Do I have constipation?

Everyone’s bowel habits are different. For some people, you could set your watch by their daily bowel movement; but for others, it is a bit hit and miss. Does that mean they have constipation? Or is that their ‘normal’?

Constipation is common, but what are the usual symptoms?

Constipation symptoms

Defining symptoms of constipation is a topic discussed by medical professionals worldwide and is continuously evolving. Functional or chronic constipation can be defined as experiencing two or more of the following symptoms in the last three months:

  • Infrequency — Less than three bowel movements per week.
  • Hard stools — Hard or lumpy stools more than 25% of the time.
  • Manual manoeuvres — Manual manoeuvres required to facilitate emptying more than 25% of the time.
  • Incomplete evacuation — Feeling like your bowels haven’t emptied completely, more than 25% of the time.
  • Obstruction— Feeling like your lower bowel is obstructed more than 25% of the time
  • Straining — Straining when you poo more than 25% of the time

Your healthcare professional will look at how long you have had these symptoms; generally, if you have been experiencing two or more of these symptoms for longer than three months, you may have chronic constipation.

I’m constipated. Help!

If you are looking for natural constipation relief, first try the three F’s: fibre, fluid and fitness.

Fibre and constipation

Increasing your fibre helps add bulk to the stool, helping to move it through your bowel, as well as softening the stool, making it easier to pass. Good fibre sources include wholegrain cereals like oats and wheat, fruits, vegetables and legumes, such as lentils. Fibre can be helpful for some people, but it’s best to check with your GP or health professional about whether fibre is right for you.

Fluids to drink when you’re constipated

Increasing your water intake can help relieve constipation if you are dehydrated. Fruit juices such as apple, pear or prune juice may also help as they contain fructose, sorbitol and water, which all work together to help relieve constipation.

Constipation and exercise

If your body is sluggish, so is your bowel. Exercise helps improve bowel motility — aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day.4 You could join an exercise class or try to increase your incidental activity, such as taking the stairs instead of the lift, as every little bit of exercise helps.

If these lifestyle approaches don’t provide relief, then an over-the-counter medicine may help. Speak to your healthcare practitioner about which product in the Dulco range is right for you. 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.

Constipation is nothing to be embarrassed about; speak to your pharmacist or GP about the right treatment options 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. Wiriyakosol, S et al. Asian Journal of Surgery. 2007; 30 (3): 167-172.
  4. Mandel, L and Silinsky, J. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 1960; 83 (8): 384-387.
  5. Phillips, R.W. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 1965; 13 (1): 78-79.
  6. Pincock, J.G. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 1960; 82: 268-269.
  7. 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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