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Constipation is the infrequent and difficult passage of stools. It is the most common digestive complaint in the United States, resulting in approximately two million doctor visits annually. Women, especially those who are pregnant, and adults aged 65 and older are most commonly affected. Virtually everyone experiences an occasional bout of constipation that resolves itself with dietary changes and time. Although uncomfortable, it is usually not dangerous. However, it can lead to other problems such as hemorrhoids or signal an underlying health condition.

Our Approach to Constipation

Most people can treat and prevent constipation with simple diet and lifestyle changes, such as increasing their fiber intake and getting enough exercise. For patients who continue to suffer from constipation, a doctor can help determine whether any medications they're taking may be contributing to the problem and whether they should consider other treatment options, such as laxatives.

Awards & recognition

  • usnews-neurology

    Among the top hospitals in the nation

  • One of the nation's best in gastroenterology & GI surgery

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.