Chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC) is when you have hard stools that are difficult to pass and you typically poop fewer than 3 times a week. It’s a common condition that affects more women than men.
CIC doesn’t just cause constipation. It can upset your emotions, too. Chronic constipation can:
Five years ago, childbirth brought Loriel Adams of Tampa, FL, a bundle of joy in the form of a baby boy. But it also brought painful hemorrhoids that she's been dealing with ever since.
"I had an epidural. I couldn't feel anything, so I was pushing in the wrong ways. And I think that's what flared it up," she says.
Pregnancy and childbirth can often lead to hemorrhoids. Constipation and pushing to have a bowel movement or other activities that cause similar strain can also trigger the painful...
Stress can upset your gut and make you tense your muscles. That can make your constipation worse. And your brain is on high alert during times of stress, so you’re more aware of belly upset.
Chronic constipation can affect your emotions and your well-being. That can put a strain on your relationships and sex life.
Some experts think chronic constipation may be tied to off-kilter levels of serotonin, a hormone that helps keep your mood on an even keel. Low serotonin can cause anxiety and affect your sleep. It also can affect how food or waste moves through your digestive system.
If CIC affects your emotions or your quality of life, talk with your doctor. He’ll ask you some questions about how much or how often CIC makes you feel stressed, sad, or unable to enjoy your normal activities.
If he thinks you might have anxiety or depression, talk therapy can help. He can refer you to a therapist, who can work with you to manage your emotions.
Your doctor or therapist can also help diagnose and treat sleep problems. Poor sleep is not just a common symptom if you have CIC. It’s also a possible cause of constipation. Over time, poor sleep can change how the muscles in your rectum expand when you try to poop.
Talk therapy, relaxation skills, and better sleep habits can all help you sleep better.
Tips to Manage Stress and Your Emotions
You can do some things to keep your emotions on a more even keel:
Find activities that appeal to you, like gardening, walking in the park, or artwork. Make time for your hobbies. They’re just as important as your job or housework.
Meditation, yoga, mindfulness, and prayer may help ease your stress. Tune out your distractions when you meditate. Think about how you can feel better about yourself.
Get more active. Take a 20-minute walk or a swim. Exercise helps you release stress and feel better. It may also help with your bowel movements.
Talk to friends or family members who offer support. Don't feel that you have to deal with CIC stress alone.