Decisions that support a healthy lifestyle

Constipation can affect many people at some point during their lives – from 12% to 19% of individuals in North America. Some common causes of constipation include a lack of physical exercise, poor dietary habits — such as a low intake of dietary fibre or inadequate fluid intake — and certain medications.

Upset stomach, gas and bloating are other symptoms of indigestion that can be related to dietary habits and lifestyle decisions. Discover how simple actions can help manage, relieve and prevent your symptoms.

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Maintaining a balanced, healthy diet

Changing your eating habits

Fibre is the portion of food that is not digested — in other words, it cannot be completely broken down by the stomach. Fibre increases bulk and softens the stool by absorbing water, which helps to prevent constipation.

Use the chart below to help plan your daily menu with the 26-35 grams of dietary fibre recommended to help avoid constipation.

FRUITAMOUNT/SIZETOTAL DIETARY FIBRE (GRAMS)
Mango1/21.9
Avocado1/26.7
Pear w/skin15.0
Figs, dried21.6
Orange12.3
Apricots, raw32.1

Use the chart below to help plan your daily menu with the 26-35 grams of dietary fibre recommended to help avoid constipation.

VEGETABLEAMOUNT/SIZETOTAL DIETARY FIBRE (GRAMS)
Brussels sprouts, fresh or frozen, boiled, drained4 sprouts3.2
Sweet potato, baked, peeled after cooking½1.9
Potato, baked, flesh13.4
Turnip (white turnip), cubed, boiled, drained125 mL (½ cup)1.6
Edamame125 mL (½ cup)4.3
Broccoli, chopped, boiled, drained125 mL (½ cup)2.0
Peas, green, frozen, boiled, drained125 mL (½ cup)3.7

Use the chart below to help plan your daily menu with the 26-35 grams of dietary fibre recommended to help avoid constipation.

CerealAMOUNT / SIZETOTAL DIETARY FIBRE (GRAMS)
Oat bran cooked175 mL (¾ cup)3.4
Oatmeal, instant, regular1 packet2.7
Oatmeal, large flakes/quick175 mL (¾ cup)2.6
Barley, pearled, cooked125 mL (½ cup)2.0
Rice, brown, long-grain, cooked125 mL (½ cup)1.5

Use the chart below to help plan your daily menu with the 26-35 grams of dietary fibre recommended to help avoid constipation.

Bread ProductAMOUNT / SIZETOTAL DIETARY FIBRE (GRAMS)
Muffin, bran, homemade57 g (1 medium)3.7
Melba toast, plain2 crackers0.6
Whole wheat crackers41.7
Bread, whole wheat, commercial35 g (1 slice)2.4
Spaghetti, whole wheat, cooked250 mL (1 cup)4.8
Bread, rye35 g (1 slice)2.0

Use the chart below to help plan your daily menu with the 26–35 grams of dietary fibre recommended to help avoid constipation.

LegumeAMOUNT / SIZETOTAL DIETARY FIBRE (GRAMS)
Beans, black, canned, not drained175 mL (¾ cup)12.2
Beans, pinto, canned, not drained175 mL (¾ cup)8.2
Beans, kidney, dark red, canned, not drained175 mL (¾ cup)12.1
Vegetable patty15.7
Beans, baked, with pork, canned175 mL (¾ cup)10.4
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans), canned, not drained175 mL (¾ cup)7.8
Nut/SeedAMOUNT / SIZETOTAL DIETARY FIBRE (GRAMS)
Almonds, dried60 mL (¼ cup)4.2
Flaxseeds, whole and ground15 mL (1 tbsp)3.0
Hazelnuts or filberts, dried60 mL (¼ cup)3.3
Sunflower seed kernels, roasted, salted60 mL (¼ cup)2.9
Walnuts, dried60 mL (¼ cup)1.7

Use the chart below to help plan your daily menu with the 26-35 grams of dietary fibre recommended to help avoid constipation.

Drinking more fluid (2.2 L or 9 cups of water or juice a day) can help avoid constipation. Also, try staying clear of caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea or cola. They can cause frequent urination. That leaves less fluid for the digestive tract, which may result in constipation.

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Exercise

Staying physically active

Regular physical activity is beneficial to many aspects of your health — including managing bouts of constipation. Walking, running, biking, swimming and practicing yoga are all great ways to tone and strengthen your colon wall. Physical exercise also increases blood flow to all parts of the body, including the digestive tract.

Regular physical activity is beneficial to many aspects of your health — including managing bouts of constipation. Walking, running, biking, swimming and practicing yoga are all great ways to tone and strengthen your colon wall. Physical exercise also increases blood flow to all parts of the body, including the digestive tract.

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Stress

Maintaining a balanced lifestyle

The physical effects of stress and anxiety can cause a variety of changes within the body that may result in constipation. If antidepressant/antianxiety medication is being prescribed, a healthcare professional may also recommend a laxative with stool softener to help manage any side effects of constipation or stomach upset. If stress is a factor that may be causing your constipation symptoms, try to include a couple of the following simple relaxation techniques throughout the day:

  • Take 5 minutes to focus on breathing. Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths.
  • Reach out to friends, preferably face-to-face, for support and a fresh perspective.
  • Get up and take a 5-10 minute walk outside. Breathe deeply.
  • Take a green tea break — green tea contains theanine, an amino acid that calms the body.
  • Take an internet break. Laughter is a natural relaxant.

Any change to your typical schedule, diet and time zone can all throw the digestive tract off its rhythm. Help it out by increasing your fluid intake and consuming more daily fibre. As well, it is best to avoid long periods of sitting, such as driving or sitting on a bus — periodically taking time to stretch your legs helps to maintain your digestive health and prevent constipation. A healthcare professional may also advise taking a natural laxative along, like SENOKOT® Tablets

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Women

What you need to know

Women in Canada are nearly 2x as likely as men to experience constipation and the reasons for this are currently unknown.

As with any medication, if you are pregnant or nursing, you should talk to a doctor before taking SENOKOT® products.

SENOKOT® for Women Tablets use natural senna to help provide gentle overnight relief from constipation. Adults should not exceed taking 4 tablets, twice a day. Children should not exceed 2 tablets, twice a day.

DOSETIMES PER DAY
Adults2-4 tablets1-2*
Children aged 6-121-2 tablets1-2†

SENOKOT® for Women Laxative Tablets: Available in packs of 25 and 90

* Total daily dose not to exceed 8 tablets
† Total daily dose not to exceed 4 tablets

Yes. SENOKOT® for Women Tablets (standardized sennosides) may be taken by men. Adults should not exceed 4 tablets, twice a day. Children should not exceed 2 tablets, twice a day.

DOSETIMES PER DAY
Adults2-4 tablets1-2*
Children aged 6-121-2 tablets1-2†

SENOKOT® for Women Laxative Tablets: Available in packs of 25 and 90

* Total daily dose not to exceed 8 tablets
† Total daily dose not to exceed 4 tablets

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Additional FAQs

What you need to know

Constipation is the infrequent passage of stools (less than three stools a week) that are difficult and painful to pass. Constipation symptoms include feeling bloated, strained bowel movements, abdominal pain and gas.

Some common causes of constipation include a lack of physical exercise, poor dietary habits — such as a low intake of dietary fibre or inadequate fluid intake — and certain medications.

Stool softeners, like docusate sodium, help to draw water into the intestine, making it easier for hard, dry stools to pass through.

Find out more about how SENOKOT® is made.

Learn How

Sennosides (or senna glycosides) found within the senna plant stimulate a series of comfortable wave-like contractions called peristalsis to help encourage bowel movements.

As food moves through the colon, water is absorbed to leave behind waste products, or stool. The muscles that line the colon contract in a wave-like motion to push the stool down toward the rectum. By the time the stool reaches the rectum, it is solid because most of the water has been absorbed. However, if the muscles of the large intestine are sluggish, the colon will absorb too much water and the stool will become dry and hard, resulting in difficult, painful bowel movements and constipation pain.

If left untreated, constipation may lead to complications such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, rectal prolapse, and fecal impaction.

Common ways of avoiding constipation include being more physically active, consuming more dietary fibre (between 26-35 grams/day), and drinking more water (at least 2.2 L or 9 cups/day).

A laxative with a stool softener can help to provide gentle constipation relief when constipation is accompanied by hard, dry stools. The laxative stimulates the muscle contractions to move the waste through the colon, while the stool softener (i.e., docusate sodium) softens the stool for added comfort.

Do not use if you are hypersensitive to the active substance (sennosides) or to any ingredient in the formulation; have an acute surgical abdomen; abnormal constrictions of the gastrointestinal tract; potential or existing intestinal blockage and stenosis; ileus; atonic bowel; appendicitis; inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis; abdominal pain of unknown origin; undiagnosed rectal bleeding and severe dehydration with depleted water or electrolytes.

Everyone has their own version of “normal”: For some, it’s three times a day; for others, it’s three times a week. Normal isn’t about quantity, it’s about quality. Straining, pushing or discomfort are signs of constipation.

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Constipation in adults

Everything you need or want to know about poop.

Constipation is the infrequent passage of stools (less than three stools a week) that are difficult and painful to pass. Constipation symptoms include feeling bloated, strained bowel movements, abdominal pain and gas.

Although constipation can affect people of any age, the risk and rate of constipation increases considerably with age. Among people 65 years of age or older, 26% of women and 16% of men are constipated. That being said, constipation is not caused by simply getting older; rather, it is caused by other age-related problems such as decreased mobility, age-related medical conditions, changes in diet and an increased use of medications that cause constipation as a side effect.

Some common causes of constipation include a lack of physical exercise, poor dietary habits — such as a low intake of dietary fibre or inadequate fluid intake — and the side effects of certain medications.

Certain lifestyle changes can help to relieve constipation. These include eating more fibre, staying well hydrated and being as physically active as possible.

  • Eat more fresh fruits, dried fruits such as apricots, prunes and figs, cooked or raw vegetables, and whole-grain cereals and breads
  • Drink lots of water, juices and other fluids
  • Do things that keep you moving and active like going for walks or taking care of your yard
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Constipation in children

Some guidelines for identifying constipation in children and infants include:

  • Experiencing no bowel movements for two to three or more days than usual
  • Less than three bowel movements a week
  • Hard or painful bowel movements
  • Large stools that may clog the toilet or drops of blood on the outside of their stool

The symptoms of constipation in children are the same as they are in adults, but children can develop constipation differently. Children may be reluctant to use a stranger’s bathroom or interrupt playtime with friends, thereby disrupting their natural clock.

Constipation in children can be related to many factors including:

  • Eating too many foods that are high in fat and low in fibre, like fast foods
  • Not drinking enough water or fluids
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Not wanting to use public bathrooms
  • Feeling stressed because of school, friends or family matters
  • Changes in routine like starting a new school year or not having enough breaks to use the bathroom
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