Women Are 208% More Likely To Be Constipated Than Men — Here's Why
We've all dealt with constipation, but research shows that women are more likely to fall victim to struggles with regularity—by a lot. According to a 2020 cross-sectional study from BMC Gastroenterology, women are more than twice as likely (208% to be exact) to deal with constipation than men. I was shocked when I read this statistic and had to know why.
Why constipation is more common in women.
There are varying theories as to why exactly women are more prone to constipation and other functional gastrointestinal disorders (e.g., bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, pelvic floor dysfunction).
Some scientists believe females have a longer gut transit time—i.e., it takes longer for food and waste to move through their GI tracts. This could be due to hormonal fluctuations that are more frequent in women (more on that in a moment) or the fact that women's colons are 10 centimeters longer1(!) than men's, on average. Researchers aren't entirely sure why women have longer large intestines, but their smaller stature and the limited shared space (with their uteruses, bladders, etc.) may indeed play a part in susceptibility to constipation.
As women, we've all experienced the highs and lows of hormone imbalance. From puberty to menstruation to pregnancy to menopause, there are very few times throughout a woman's life span when reproductive hormones aren't playing a massive role. Fluctuations in progesterone2 and estrogen3 (which are prominent players in menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause) have been linked to constipation, as have thyroid hormones4 (which have a large impact on digestion and metabolism, as well as a number of other physiological systems).
In short, research detailing exactly how or why women are more prone to constipation and functional GI disorder (FGID) is ongoing. But not to fear—solutions for finding relief from constipation are well within your reach.
How to promote regularity (and find relief).
If you're experiencing chronic constipation or have been diagnosed with a FGID, be sure to work with a gastroenterologist to address your unique health needs.
That said, there are a few proven techniques that have been shown to help promote regularity:
- Move your body daily (even a short walk or quick yoga flow can help get things moving).
- Make sure you're properly hydrated.
- Up your intake of fiber—which has been shown to improve stool frequency and consistency5—by taking a fiber supplement (you can find mindbodygreen's recommendations here).
Constipation can hit anyone at any time, but it's more than twice as likely to affect women—especially during times of hormonal changes. To keep constipation symptoms at bay, consider physical activity, proper hydration, and increasing your dietary fiber intake.
RELATED: The 12 Best Fiber Supplements For Gut Health & Regularity*
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.