Definition Typically this is:

A decreased frequency of going to the toilet (not going so often)
A change to passing harder drier stools

However people who feel they are not empting properly and have to strain more may also say they have constipation, even when they have no change in the frequency of going to the toilet or a change in the consistency of the stool. It is therefore important to be able to say:

1. How often you normally go to the toilet to open your bowels?

2. Has the frequency changed to going less or more often to the toilet?

3. Have the stools changed to harder or looser consistency?

4. Has this persisted for more than 4 weeks or recurred in spite of simple treatments?

5. Is this a new symptom or is it a recurrent problem?

For information on how to treat constipation click on ‘Treatment for Bowel Symptoms’ below.