The Science Behind Why Women Are More Likely To Be Constipated

We've all had those days when we just can't seem to find the motivation to do anything, let alone get off the couch. But for some of us, the problem is even bigger: we can't seem to go number two.

If you're female, you may already be nodding your head in agreement. That's because women are much more likely than men to suffer from constipation. Why must women go through life 

From biology to hormones, there are several factors that contribute to why women may be more likely to experience digestive issues than their male counterparts. So if you've ever wondered why your stomach sometimes gives you grief, read on to get a better perspective–along with a few tips on how to alleviate it.

What Is Constipation?

Ahh, constipation. The great equalizer of the sexes, it seems. According to science, women are more likely to suffer from regular bouts of constipation compared to men. But let’s not jump ahead – first things first, we have to understand what constipation actually is.

Constipation can be described as infrequent and difficult passage of stools due to hardening or a blockage in the colon or rectum. Yup, it’s not a fun topic that often gets overlooked at dinner parties but it’s a common issue experienced by many people of all genders! Constipation can also cause bloating, abdominal pain and feeling overly tired.

How Does Gender Play a Role?

It all comes down to science and a few major differences in our bodies.

For starters, women take longer to digest food than men – which could mean that their bowels are less efficient at pushing out what they don't need. Then there's the body structure part: female anatomy is completely different, with narrower pelvic walls. So when those muscles contract, they don’t have as much space to do their job.

And let’s not forget hormones! Menstruation and pregnancy can cause hormonal shifts that can impact how well your digestive system does its thing.

Hormones and Constipation

Women have a hormonal advantage when it comes to constipation, and that means they're more likely to experience it. After all, the female hormone estrogen might make the stool so slippery that it's harder for it to pass through the large intestine in a timely manner.

Meanwhile, progesterone has been known to drive up water absorption in the colon which makes constipation even worse. And don't forget about testosterone: this hormone directly influences enzymes that help your body digest food, but since women produce much lower levels of the stuff compared to men, the digestion process may become interrupted and result in constipation.

It's also worth noting that because of physiological differences between men and women—the shape and length of their respective colons, for example—this might also be one reason why women are statistically more likely than men to suffer from constipation.

Diet and Constipation

What we put into our bodies affects our digestive health. You are what you eat, after all. Women's diets can have a particular effect on their likelihood of becoming constipated—namely the lack of dietary fiber and increased consumption of processed foods.

Fiber is essential for healthy digestion, as it helps to regulate bowel movements and keep them regular. Unfortunately, diets low in fiber because they are high in processed foods can leave women with less healthy bowels.

Plus, one should take note that even if women get enough dietary fiber, they may still be getting less than men—men typically consume more calories than women and therefore more fiber by default. So even if you're eating enough fiber, you might still be at a disadvantage compared to the average man!

The Role of Stress and Mental Health

Did you know that stress and mental health can play a role in why more women experience constipation than men? Yup, it's true—chronic stress can cause muscles to tighten throughout the body, which in turn increases the risk of constipation. Stress can also disrupt your body’s natural hormone balance, which can lead to further digestive issues.

Solutions for Women's Constipation

If you're a woman who has been struggling to get things moving, you're not alone. So what can women do in order to get things moving again?

  • Fiber-Filled Foods: You might want to increase your intake of fiber-filled foods. This helps move digested food through the intestines and can help get things back on track. And if eating fibrous veggies like Brussels sprouts is a little too much for you, don't worry—there are plenty of tasty foods with fiber: oatmeal, nuts and seeds, as well as whole grains like quinoa or brown rice. Or even cereals. For instance, Poop Like A Champion Cinnamon Toast Ultra Fiber Cereal will get you more than half of your daily fiber needs with a cinnamon twist to make eating healthily more fun.
  • Take a Dose Of…Milk?: Believe it or not, milk can be a beneficial elixir for curing constipation. The theory is that it contains lactic acid which boosts your good gut bacteria—and a happy gut means healthy bowels! However, if dairy just isn't your thing then there are plenty of other options out there like probiotics and herbal teas which can still do the trick.
  • Exercise & Stress Relief: Exercising regularly and managing stress levels is key for maintaining healthy bowels. Physical activity helps mechanically move food through your stomach more quickly while reducing stress keeps cortisol (the hormone responsible for making us feel stressed out) levels lower which in turn keeps our digestive system happy and healthy.

 

Women are more likely to experience constipation than men due to the combination of both biological and lifestyle factors. But hey, the silver lining is that if you are struggling with constipation, you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone and there are lots of things to do to beat it. So, here’s to all women! May your bowel movements be as regular and healthy as possible.

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