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There can be many possible causes of constipation. Sometimes there is just one reason for your bowel problem but often there will be a combination of factors behind your inability to pass stools.

Perhaps the most common cause of constipation is a lack of fibre in the diet. Not eating sufficient fruit, cereals and vegetables is likely to cause to a fibre deficiency which invariably leads to difficulty in the passing of stools.

Other possible causes of constipation include dehydration, anxiety, depression, or a lack of mobility. Psychiatric problems such as those caused by violence or trauma can also lead to constipation.

A huge variety of medication can also cause you to become constipated. Anything from antidepressants and antipsychotics to iron and calcium supplements can have the side effect of temporary constipation.

Pregnant women are also prone to developing constipation, with over one in three women becoming constipated during their pregnancy. Hormonal changes increase the levels of progesterone in the body which can make it more difficult for the bowel muscles to contract, and therefore pass stools.

Although most causes of constipation, such as the ones mentioned above, are relatively minor in nature, constipation can occasionally be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. The problem can develop as a result of diabetes, hypercalcaemia, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, underactive thyroid, and colon or rectal cancer. This is why you shouldn't hesitate in making an appointment with your GP if your constipation persists for longer than four or five days.

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