7 Best Things You Can Do to Ease Your Constipation

Constipation can be uncomfortable, painful, and frustrating. But you have options for treating it.

You get constipated when your colon's contractions are too slow. That makes your digestive system remove too much water.

This leaves you with small, hard stools that are painful to pass. Gas and bloating usually come along for the ride.

You have options for easing your symptoms without drugs. This article looks at seven ways you can get things softened up and moving better.

Constipation may come in occasional bouts. Or you may have a condition that includes chronic constipation. These include:

If you have regular constipation, talk to your healthcare provider.

1

Eat More Fruit

bowl of pineapple slices
Laszlo Selly/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Fruits contain a lot of fiber. So most of them help soften stools and ease constipation. Some are better than others. They include:

  • Papaya
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
  • Prunes

It's just a coincidence that they all start with P. But it gives you an easy way to remember them at the grocery store.

Low FODMAP Fruits

Papaya and pineapple are low in FODMAPs. Those are sugars can aggravate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). So these two fruits are the best choices if you have IBS.

2

Eat More Vegetables

Kale bunch

Enrique Díaz / 7cero/Moment/Getty Images

Eating more vegetables that are high in soluble fiber can help keep you regular. Some people have better luck with cooked vegetables than with raw.

Vegetables that may be especially good for easing constipation are:

Greens:

  • Kale*
  • Spinach*
  • Swiss chard*

Vegetables:

  • Artichoke hearts*
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli*
  • Carrots*
  • Green beans

Beans:

  • Canella beans
  • Pinto beans
  • White beans

*Low-FODMAP foods. Canned artichoke hearts should be well-rinsed and limited to a 1/8 cup serving.

3

Get More Fiber

bowl of flaxseed
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Other ways to get more dietary fiber include seeds and supplements. Seeds that are high in soluble fiber include:

Fiber supplements, or bulk laxatives, are available over-the-counter (OTC). Psyllium fiber has some research supporting its use.

But Citrucel is non-fermentable. So it may be better for a low-FODMAP diet.

Recap

Fiber helps you have normal bowel movements. You can increase your fiber intake with fruits, vegetables, seeds, and fiber supplements.

4

Take Magnesium

man shopping for vitamins
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Research is lacking. But some people say magnesium supplements help relieve their constipation.

Magnesium helps relax the muscles of the colon. That means a smoother contraction rhythm. In other words, it pushes out stool better.

Magnesium also draws water into the colon. That makes stools softer.

Magnesium can have digestive side effects, though. Check with your healthcare provider to see what dosage is best for your age, gender, and other factors.

5

Use Heat

girl with hot water bottle
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Try sleeping with a hot water bottle or a heating pad.

There's no research behind this. But heat can be mentally and physically relaxing. It may help relax your intestinal muscles so they function better. That can help with bowel movements.

Be sure to use heat for short periods of time. Don't put it directly on your skin.

Recap

Anecdotal evidence supports magnesium supplements and a heating pad to help relieve constipation.

6

Train Your Body

man on toilet
Jonathan Kirn/The Image Bank/Getty Images

For most people, the system that makes you want to defecate peaks in the morning. When you have chronic constipation, this system is out of whack.

You can re-awaken this morning response, though.

First, have a substantial breakfast. That stimulates the gastrocolic reflex (intestinal contractions.)

Second, make sure you have time for a relaxing bathroom trip after breakfast. Don't push and strain. Give it time to happen naturally.

7

Try Biofeedback

biofeedback
Frances Twitty/E+/Getty Images

This treatment can be effective if your constipation is from a condition called dyssynergic constipation.

Biofeedback is a treatment that helps you re-train your muscles. It does that with feedback from sensors. For constipation, it targets your pelvic area.

Summary

Fiber helps you have normal bowel movements. You can increase your fiber intake with fruits, vegetables, seeds, and fiber supplements.

Anecdotal evidence supports magnesium supplements and a heating pad to help relieve constipation.

Re-train your body for normal morning bowel movements by having a substantial breakfast. Then have a long, relaxed trip to the bathroom.

Biofeedback may help if you have dyssynergic constipation.

A Word From Verywell

Constipation is not only frustrating but possibly painful. It can also be embarrassing.

Don't let that stop you from talking to a healthcare provider about it. Letting constipation go untreated can lead to complications and lower your quality of life.

Get a proper diagnosis and treatment so you can get back to enjoying life.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you relieve constipation with a heating pad?

    Possibly. Some small studies have shown raising your body temperature can ease constipation. But most of the support for using heating pads is based on personal experience and not research.

  • How can I relieve my baby's constipation quickly?

    If your baby is over a month old, give them a little apple or pear juice. They can have an ounce for every month of age up to four ounces.

    You can also give them one to two teaspoons of corn syrup.

  • When should I worry about being constipated for too long?

    It depends on what your normal bowel movements are like. Some people typically skip a few days. Others go several times a day.

    Call your healthcare provider if:

    • You've gone much longer than usual
    • Hydrating or other simple treatments aren't helping
    • You have bloating and abdominal pain

    Go to the emergency room for constipation plus:

    • Vomiting
    • Bloody stool
    • Unintended weight loss
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8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cleveland Clinic. Constipation.

  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary guidelines for Americans.

  3. Bothe G, Coh A, Auinger A. Efficacy and safety of a natural mineral water rich in magnesium and sulphate for bowel function: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studyEur J Nutr. 2017;56(2):491–499. doi:10.1007/s00394-015-1094-8

  4. Schuster BG, Kosar L, Kamrul R. Constipation in older adults: stepwise approach to keep things movingCan Fam Physician. 2015;61(2):152–158.

  5. Lee HJ, Jung KW, Myung SJ. Technique of functional and motility test: how to perform biofeedback for constipation and fecal incontinenceJ Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2013;19(4):532–537. doi:10.5056/jnm.2013.19.4.532

  6. Nagashima Y, Igaki M, Suzuki A, et al. Application of a heat- and steam-generating sheet increases peripheral blood flow and induces parasympathetic predominance. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2011;2011:e965095. doi:10.1155/2011/965095

  7. American Academy of Pediatrics. Infant constipation.

  8. Cleveland Clinic. How to know when constipation is an emergency.

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