Women twice as likely as men to be constipated

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – About one in four adults say that they have suffered from constipation in the past 3 months, with women nearly twice as likely to report symptoms as men, according to a survey of Canadian adults.

About 40% of more than 1100 adults surveyed said they had been constipated at some point in the past year and 27% said they had been constipated in the past 3 months. About 13% of those people experienced constipation as a side effect of medication or a medical condition, according to the report in a recent issue of The American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Thirty-four percent of the subjects said they had visited a doctor for their symptoms and about one third reported using laxatives, the report indicates. When the researchers used a strict definition of constipation–classified as experiencing at least two of six symptoms–about 15% to 17% of the subjects had constipation.

Regardless of the definition used, women were twice as likely as men to be constipated, the authors note.

Women, individuals who recently used antidepressants, and older subjects were more likely to seek help from a doctor, according to the report.

"Constipation and related healthcare seeking are common in the Canadian population," Dr. P. Pare from Laval University in Quebec City, Quebec, and colleagues, conclude.

Am J Gastroenterol 2001;96:3130-3137

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