Your constipation questions answered

14 common constipation myths

Myth 1: You have to have a bowel movement every day. False

What is normal when it comes to bowel movements can vary from person to person. ‘Normal’ could be anything from every day to once every few days. If, however, you are having less than three bowel movements a week or are experiencing straining or hard lumpy stools, you may be constipated.

Myth 2: Increase your fibre, and you’ll be right. False

Lack of fibre is not the only cause of constipation. Constipation can be caused by medical conditions, some medications and other contributing lifestyle factors. If you’re constipated, you should consider more than just your diet.

Learn more about the relationship between your fibre intake and constipation.

Myth 3: Swallowing chewing gum will block your bowel. True-ish

For most people, gum moves through and out of your body just like the food you eat. Frequent gum swallowing, though, over time could result in a non-digestible lump called a bezoar that could block your digestive tract and require medical assistance.

Myth 4: Going on holiday can cause constipation. True

Travel broadens the mind and your diet. When you’re on holiday, your daily routine changes, as does your diet and exercise habits. You may spend more time relaxing and less time moving, which can affect your digestion. To prevent constipation while travelling, include cooked fruit and veggies in your diet, drink plenty of water and stay active.

Find our more about traveller’s constipation.

Myth 5: Emotions can affect your bowel movements? True

Changes in your emotional state may trigger constipation or make it worse. Relaxing your mind and body through meditation or yoga may help support bowel function. You could also try massaging your belly and the muscles that support the intestines.

Myth 6: Holding it in can cause damage. True

Ignoring the urge make you physically uncomfortable, more than a little grumpy or even exacerbate constipation. Going when you have the urge helps prevent constipation and keeps you happy and healthy.

Myth 7: Constipation can be an adverse effect of some medications. True

Constipation can be a side effect of certain medications. If you’re concerned your medication is causing constipation, talk to your pharmacist or doctor. They can also discuss options to help provide relief.

Myth 8: All fibre is treated the same by the body.False

Foods can contain insoluble and soluble fibre. Insoluble fibre adds bulk to help the stool pass through your intestines faster. Insoluble fibre is in wholegrain bread, pasta, and cereal. Soluble fibre is absorbed in water and helps support bowel health. Find soluble fibre in beans, peas and other plant foods.

Myth 9: Prunes are a natural laxative. True

Small in size, prunes have a big effect on the bowel. This small dried fruit has earned an excellent reputation as nature’s remedy for constipation because prunes are rich in insoluble fibre, as well as the natural laxative sorbitol.

Myth 10: Drinking water helps you poop. True

Water helps soften stools and prevent constipation. You can keep your body hydrated by drinking water and other fluidsor consuming water-rich foods such as fruit and vegetables.

Myth 11: Exercise will help you become more regular. True

Exercise can help to prevent constipation. When the body is active, it helps decrease the amount of time it takes food to pass through the large intestine. As a result, the amount of water absorbed by the colon is reduced, helping prevent constipation. Try 10–15 minute walks several times a day to get your bowels moving!

Myth 12: Stool softeners are laxatives too. True

Stool softeners absorb more water from the bowel, helping to make your stools softer. As with any laxative, it’s important to address the underlying cause of constipation. If you need to use stool softeners regularly, talk to your doctor or health professional.

Myth 13: Constipation naturally occurs with age. False

It’s often thought that constipation comes with ageing, but that’s not necessarily the case. Although it is true that older people have higher rates of constipation an advancing age is a risk factor, whether you’re 7, 27 or 70 years old, the same constipation prevention tips apply, like getting enough fibre and water and increasing exercise.

Myth 14: Kids don’t get constipation. False

Just like adults, kids can become constipated. The main indicator of constipation in kids are bigger than normal poops or poop that’s pellet or log-shaped. Kids’ poop should ‘come out’ shaped like mushy blobs, thin snakes or soft-serve ice cream. Factors contributing to constipation in kids may include pain, fever, food and fluid intake, emotional issues, toilet training, medicines, and a family history of constipation.

If constipation affects you or any family member, the Dulco range of products could be helpful. The Dulco range includes Dulcolax Tablets and Dulcolax SP Drops that provide clinically proven1-3 relief from constipation. Dulcolax suppositories are effective in 20-45 minutes for predictable relief from constipation.

Speak to your healthcare practitioner about which Dulco range is right for you.

Always read the label and follow the directions for use.


  1. Kamm et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2011; 9(7):577-583. Sponsored by Boehringer-Ingelheim.
  2. Kienzle-Horn, S. et al. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2006; 23 (10): 1479-1488. Sponsored by Boehringer-Ingelheim.
  3. Mueller-Lissner et al. Am J Gastroenterol. 2010;105(4):897-903. Sponsored by Boehringer-Ingelheim.
  4. Wiriyakosol, S et al. Asian Journal of Surgery. 2007; 30 (3): 167-172.
  5. Mandel, L and Silinsky, J. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 1960; 83 (8): 384-387.
  6. Phillips, R.W. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 1965; 13 (1): 78-79.
  7. Pincock, J.G. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 1960; 82: 268-269. 8. Lvine, J. and Rinzlner, S.H. The American Journal of Cardiology. 1960; 108-110.

Learn about which Dulcolax product may be appropriate for you.


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