If you are a someone with chronic constipation you might not want to talk about it to everyone you know.

But there are some topics that I rarely see discussed, even on IBS specialist accounts. And so I wanted to share a few things I don’t think anyone is talking about.

Chronic constipation

Things you need to know, that no-one talks about.


1. Using your finger – digital disimpaction

When you’re very constipated, the stool can get harder the longer it sits in your intestine. Sometimes people have to use their finger to get the poo out.

No-one wants to talk about that. But if you sometimes need to help things along a little bit, you’re not alone.

In a medical setting it’s called digital disimpaction, but some people need to do this at home. 

I shared this fact to my email list and had two people reply straight back telling me that they also have had to do this. 

You might feel embarrassed if this has happened to you. It’s not normal, but it’s also not unheard of.

By the way – It’s not recommended you do this frequently, as you can could add bacteria into the rectum, or affect the anal sphincter.

2. It’s ok to use laxatives

There are different types of laxatives to help you poo.

  • Firstly some provide more fibre and bulk which encourages a bowel movement.
  • Secondly, osmotic laxatives help draw water into the bowel to soften the stool.
  • And thirdly other laxatives stimulate the bowel to need to empty.  

If you have chronic constipation you may need a combination of laxatives together. It is ok to take two types at a time in cases where one type doesn’t work. 

Speak to a pharmacist about how to do this if you want some support. 

A higher fibre diet is normally the best way to avoid future flare ups of constipation. But it can lead to bloating if the food is getting stuck. 

I’ve found after years of working with clients who have constipation, it’s best to clear the constipation before increasing your fibre intake.

This helps to reduce the build up of fibre that can be fermented in the bowel, causing major bloating.

If you just carry on increasing your dietary fibre and it’s not going anywhere you can end up pretty fed up with the bloating, cramps and gas. 

      blue and white woman sitting on a toilet with a red glow around her stomach, holding a toilet roll.

      3. Fibre isn’t all the same

      Some fibre helps form a bulk in the stool. This can support or stimulate your urge to go to the toilet.

      Other types of fibre help to create a more gel-like smooth stool that is easily passed.

      • Viscose, gel forming fibre includes oats, oranges, berries, peas, beans, apples, root vegetables, and asparagus. 
      • Bulk forming fibre includes wheat bran and whole grains, vegetables and nuts & seeds. 

      If you are finding fibre makes you very bloated and gassy, try increasing low FODMAP fibres. These are less fermentable fibres. Examples of this could be:

      • oranges,
      • kiwi,
      • berries,
      • rice,
      • green pepper,
      • courgette,
      • chickpeas.

      These are considered lower FODMAP foods.

      This means they are not as rapidly fermentable by your gut bacteria. By eating more low FODMAP foods you should have less fuel for the bacteria to munch on, and produce gas.

      It’s important to still focus on low FODMAP fibre to create more stool bulk. You don’t want to avoid all fibre, because this can cause more constipation. 

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      4. You can get overflow diarrhoea in chronic constipation

      If you’re chronically constipated and the stool is very hard and impacted, then softer looser stools can spill over, causing diarrhoea. 

      Sometimes people mix this up with an IBS-Mixed diagnosis. You might think you alternate between diarrhoea and constipation, but actually it could all be constipation with spill over diarrhoea. 

      5. Sitting on the toilet too long doesn’t help

      Sitting in the same position for too long won’t necessarily help with the urge to pass a stool.

      Straining with a hard poo can cause piles. Haemorrhoids are small veins that protrude from your anus, and can be painful, itchy or bleed. They may be caused through frequent straining, as well as sitting on the toilet for too long. 

      People who have a sedentary life tend to be more prone to getting piles, due to sitting down for so long. You can also get piles from severe diarrhoea, pregnancy or heavy lifting. 

      If you think you need some help with your diet for constipation, please get in touch to see if the Gut Reset is right for you. Email info@goodnessme-nutrition.com or use the Contact page. 

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      IBS Nutritionist

      Hi, I'm Anna Mapson, registered Nutritional Therapist.

      I help people with IBS and SIBO get control of unpredictable gut symptoms to find long term relief from painful and embarrassing IBS without restrictive dieting.

      I can help you to:

      • understand your digestion better, so you recognise your triggers
      • eat a well balanced diet, with tasty meals that are simple to prepare
      • reintroduce your trigger foods so you can get back to enjoying food again

      Find more about my 3 month 1:1 Gut Reset programme. 

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