What is constipation?


Put simply, if you’re having infrequent, irregular or incomplete bowel movements, it’s probably constipation. The longer food waste remains in your bowels, the more moisture is lost from the stools (‘poo’), into the body. This results in a hard, dry stool that may involve straining and pain to pass. It’s also common to feel bloated and uncomfortable.

Dehydration - a common cause of constipation​

Normally, by the time the stool reaches the rectum, most of the water in the waste should have been absorbed back into the body, leaving a soft, but formed, stool.

If the waste has travelled through too fast, not enough water will have been reabsorbed back into the body, causing loose, watery stools (diarrhoea).

If the transit of waste has been too slow, too much water is reabsorbed back into the body, leaving the stools dry, hard and difficult to pass (constipation). MOVICOL® relieves constipation by bringing water back into the stool to compensate for that lack of water – thereby working in a natural way to trigger a bowel motion. To learn more, watch this video.

See this chart for different stool types, depending on the level of hydration or dehydration of the stool.

What is faecal impaction?

A doctor or nurse may use this term when there hasn’t been a proper bowel movement for several days – or even weeks. It means the poo has been building up in your intestines and becoming more and more difficult to get out. Children with faecal impaction tend to have a dribbly bottom and often dirty their pants, which can be confused with diarrhoea and lead to the wrong treatment. Faecal impaction needs to be confirmed by a doctor, as it requires a specific treatment approach and a dose of MOVICOL different from the one recommended to treat constipation.

Who suffers?

Anyone can become constipated, but some groups are more likely to suffer than others. Constipation is more common in elderly people and young children than in younger adults, and women are more likely than men to be affected. Some medications and other health issues can also increase the likelihood of constipation.