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Constipation is Not Romantic

Posted by on Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

First Group of 71 Women Marine Officer Candidates, 13 March 1043

I’ve written about this particular affliction before but, considering how common and chronic it can be, I think it’s worth revisiting. It’s embarrassing to have a problem you can’t talk about. I mean, some people do but it’s not the politest of topics for conversation. Sometimes, when I’m with a group of women, I wonder how many of us are experiencing constipation. Since women have it far more often then men, chances are good that some of us are. Chances are extremely good that I am, since I seem to have a constant, unstoppable case.

When an ailment is so common, so universally experienced and universally despised, you’d think we’d be more comfortable talking about it. Everybody poops, right? Or, doesn’t, as the case may be. I’m turning over a new leaf. I’m not going to let myself be embarrassed about it anymore. If Lynda Carter, Wonder Woman, can be the spokeswoman for IBS, I can admit to my own intestinal woes, right? Right.

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman

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The most frustrating thing about constipation is the waiting (it’s gross, I know, but we’re not being embarrassed, remember?) With most ailments, you get sick and you get better. You may feel bad for a while. You may rue the day you agreed to attend a birthday party with flu-ridden children but you know it will all be over soon. The flu runs its course and leaves the building. Not so with constipation. It’s a disorder characterized by stillness. Day after day you wait for something to happen. You eat fiber, change your diet, take laxatives, drink gallons of water, exercise, take a warm bath, do yoga stretches, etc., etc., and still: nothing. I am not a patient person. I am not comfortable waiting powerlessly while my body doesn’t do something. Of course, as with most things, the stress only makes it worse. Chronic constipation can be dangerous too, especially if the sufferer abuses laxatives which is easy to do when you’re constantly backed-up.

Logo for Activia Yogurt from Dannon

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For me, what usually works is avoiding dairy products and alcohol, two of my favorite things. I haven’t had a drink in several months and so far I only miss it when I eat pizza. Cheese, on the other hand, is essential to my existence. I’m sick to death of the fake digestive cures advertised everywhere, like Activia yogurt. There’s no proof that Activia works (as I’ve mentioned angrily before) and yet, it’s still marketed as a constipation cure (note the gross down arrow in the logo, above). The only sure-fire cure is complete bowel removal and I don’t see many people cheering for that. All we can really do is try to eat healthy, exercise, take multivitamins (or, at the very least, magnesium), avoid foods we know make us sick (yeah right), and pray.

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