Constipation: risk factors

There are several risk factors in developing constipation. These include:


  • Women are 3 times more likely to be constipation than men.
  • Pregnant women are more often constipated due to the pressure of the baby on your intestines


Advancing age can contribute to constipation. This may be because you are bed-ridden, lack physical activity or take multiple medication.


Rich, heavy food lacking in fibre is the major risk factor leading to constipation.

Below is a list of food to avoid if you suffer with constipation:
  • Bananas, grapes, coconuts
  • Chocolate
  • Lentils, cereals
  • White Rice
  • Carrots, celery
  • Tea

Physical exercise

A sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity are two important risk factors for constipation.

Daily lifestyle

It is important to open your bowels regularly and not to delay as this can lead to ongoing constipation.


Some medication can induce constipation including:
  • Painkillers especially those which contain codeine
  • Antacids or heartburn medication
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-convulsants (anti-epileptic drugs)
  • Antispasmodics
  • Additional iron and calcium supplements

Other illnesses

Other illnesses can present with constipation - these include:
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Colon cancer
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson disease

This is not an exhaustive list, so if you are concerned or have any other symptoms (including those below), please consult your GP.

When to consult your doctor

You should consult your doctor if your constipation is new and there is no obvious cause.

In the following circumstances, you should not delay in obtaining medical advice.
  • Blood in your stools
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Inability to pass wind
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Previous history of other abdominal illnesses including cancer