From The Australian Women's Weekly Health Series: Constipation. Buy the Book. A Time and Motion Study Constipation – the delayed or abnormal transportation of faeces to the rectum – is a common bowel problem. It occurs when faeces are hard and difficult to pass or are passed less than 3 times a week. The problem usually affects women and young boys, although many people have constipation at different stages of their lives. It is not a disease, but a sign that something is wrong. Side effects of some medications can also slow down the bowel.
The six Cs of continence and constipation: COMMANDER: the brain and nerves, including the complex network in the gastrointestinal tract, and the chemical substances released to make the tract muscles contract CONTAINER: the gastrointestinal tract CONVEYER: coordinated muscle contraction and movement of the contents (motility) CONTENTS: amount and consistency of faeces CANAL: lower rectum and anus CONTROL: pelvic floor muscle function
Problems in any of these six areas can cause constipation. The conveyer (motility), for example, may be affected by the quantity and chemical make-up of food or faeces in any part of the system, the effects of gut hormones, “stop-go” switches within the nerve network, female sex hormones and the emotions. For example, depression can slow things down.
What not to eat: Certain foods may produce excess wind, causing discomfort. While some of them may be good for people with a normal bowel, they make the problem worse for those with altered bowel movement. Culprits include: