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What Are the Common Causes of Constipation in Adults?

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated May 12, 2022

What Are the Common Causes of Constipation in Adults?

Every once in a while people suffer from constipation due to a variety of circumstances. Because of this, it is normal to experience some of the causes of constipation in adults. Some may avoid it by modifying one’s habits and way of life. Although, physiological issues or illnesses are frequently the root cause of this condition.

What is Constipation?

Generally, constipation refers to not having regular bowel movements in a week. When a person is said to be constipated, they have a hard time starting or even completing a bowel movement. It takes them a while to release what is needed to be released, and their stool consistently looks dry and hard as rocks or pebbles.

The painful release may have a person feel not to have fully emptied bowels, which may also end up to further complications like:

  • Hemorrhoids (swollen anal veins)
  • Rectal prolapse (protrusion of intestines from the anus)
  • Anal fissure (tears, torn skin or breaks in the skin)
  • Fecal impaction (stools that cannot be expelled)
  • Diverticular disease (these are abnormal formations in the intestines)

People of different age groups (ranging from children to adults) can have this condition. According to a study, constipation is considered one of the most common chronic gastrointestinal condition in adults. Some are more likely to have chronic constipation, being consistently constipated more than others.  

Some of the known risk factors include:

  • Sex (females are more prone to constipation)
  • Older age (less active lifestyle leads to slower metabolism)
  • Low caloric intake
  • Low-fiber diet
  • Taking certain medications
  • Having neurological disorders
  • Having other digestive disorders

Causes of Constipation in Adults

Colon or Rectum Blockages May Slow Transit

The bowel movement may slow down because of the blockages found in the digestive tract, specifically the colon or the rectum area. Causes are as follows:

  • Anal fissure or tiny tears around the skin’s anus part. Note that fissures do not block the passage of stool. They indirectly cause constipation because patients may avoid moving their bowels to evade the pain. 
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Bowel stricture
  • Colon cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Other kinds of abdominal cancer 
  • Rectocele or the rectum bulge through the vagina’s back wall 

Nerve signaling problems around the colon or rectum

Neurological problems can also influence the occurrence of constipation. The muscles in the colon and rectum tend to contract and move stool through the intestines. Few causes of it are as follows:

  • Nerve damages that are responsible for body functions (autonomic neuropathy)
  • Injuries in the spinal cord
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Stroke

Pelvic floor dysfunction and other muscular problems

Weakness in the muscles involving the elimination process (i.e., pelvis) and other muscle function concerns may also lead to chronic constipation. Some of which are:

  • Anismus (difficulty in relaxing the pelvic muscles to prepare and permit the bowel movement)
  • Dyssynergia (inability of the pelvic muscles to coordinate well to allow a bowel movement to take place)
  • Weakened pelvic muscles


Some of the mentioned causes of constipation in adults may be prevented by considering the following tips and advice:

  • Eat a balanced diet with foods rich in high fiber (e.g., beans, vegetables, fruits, as well as whole-grain cereals).
  • Make sure you hydrate yourself and drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Know how to manage your stress accordingly.
  • “Go” (and eliminate) when you already feel like it. No need to wait. 

Key Takeaways

Constipation is a common condition most people have to deal with, which is why it is important that you know and understand the common causes of constipation in adults. 

It will help if you do not practice delaying your bowel movement in order to save yourself from having a hard kind of constipation and release.

If you present one or more of the causes of constipation in adults, consult your doctor right away.  Do not wait for blood in your stool to take action for it. 

Learn more about Constipation here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated May 12, 2022

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