When you start talking constipation the same questions will often crop up
How often is it normal to go to the loo?
We're all different! However, anything between three times a day and three times a week is considered “normal” to go to the toilet.
Do women suffer from constipation more often than men?
Yes. Women report that they suffer from constipation three times more frequently than men do.
The reasons for this are not entirely understood. Things can slow down during pregnancy and/or menopause because of hormones that relax the muscles – including the muscles in your bowel.
Do laxatives help with weight loss?
Categorically NO - they are licensed for constipation and do not cause weight loss. Taking a laxative where there is no need for constipation relief will merely result in the loss of water, salts and nothing more. Please talk to your GP if you have any concerns regarding the use of laxatives.
Do laxatives not work as well if used too often?
Experts agree that laxatives don't have a permanent long term effect on the bowel. If over a long time your doctor has been advising you to use them, your bowel can become temporarily less sensitive to the effects. If you feel that your recommended dose is not having the same effect, or you're unsure or worried, talk to healthcare professional or GP.
If your constipation symptoms persist you should contact your doctor
or pharmacist for advice.
Is laxative use habit-forming?
No, but as explained above, long term use can make the bowel less sensitive to them. Some doctors think that the longer you use them, the less likely your bowel is to work well on its own, so when you stop taking laxatives after long term use you should cut down gradually to give your bowel time to adjust.
Does constipation cause toxins to build-up in the body?
No. Experts say constipation doesn't cause a build-up of toxins in the body. There is also no evidence that constipation can lead to bowel cancer.
In some cases constipation can be a symptom of an obstruction somewhere in your intestines, so if you experience stomach pains or see traces of blood or mucus or in your stools contact your doctor immediately. You could also contact www.beatingbowelcancer.org for advice.
Can children use laxatives?
Doctors normally advise parents to try lifestyle changes first, like eating fibre-rich foods (particularly fruits and vegetables), taking regular exercise and increasing fluid intake.
If this doesn't work they may prescribe a laxative, but do not to give laxatives to children without first consulting a doctor.
How often can you use laxatives?
Standard medical advice is that laxatives that are available without prescription (like the Dulcolax® range) can be used from time to time for short term relief of occasional constipation.
You should see your doctor if you are often constipated - despite following lifestyle advice to prevent it - or if you have been constipated for more than two weeks.
You may be prescribed laxatives on a long term basis to counter the side effects of some medications or some medical conditions such as Parkinson's disease, but this will be under strict medical supervision.