As unpleasant as constipation can be, nearly everyone experiences it at some point. However, if you're feeling constipated almost every day or experiencing frequent urination alongside it, the two may be connected. Constipation can cause urinary problems due to extra pressure on the bladder. This article will explore the causes of constipation and frequent urination and the link between the two conditions.
What Is Constipation?
Constipation is a condition that causes infrequent or incomplete bowel movements due to stool moving too slowly through the digestive tract. You may struggle to pass stool because it's too hard or dry, resulting in other unpleasant side effects.
Causes of Constipation
There are several common causes of constipation, including:
- Not eating enough fiber
- Not drinking enough water
- Eating too many foods with high dairy, sugar, or fat levels
- Not exercising enough
- Holding in stool for too long
- Relying too much on laxatives
- Experiencing anxiety, depression, or grief
- Taking certain medications, including antidepressants, painkillers, iron pills, or antacids
- Having certain medical conditions, such as pregnancy or colon cancer
Signs of Constipation
Having too few bowel movements is one of the most obvious signs of constipation. This will differ for everyone, since some people go multiple times per day, while others only a few times per week. However, the longer you go without moving your bowels, the harder your stool can get, making it more difficult to pass. Other common signs of constipation include:
- Straining during bowel movements
- Feeling pain during bowel movements
- Feeling unable to completely empty bowels
- Feelings of fullness, even after a bowel movement
- Having hard, dry, or small stools
- Experiencing excessive gas
Effects of Constipation on the Body
Constipation can cause several health complications, such as hemorrhoids from straining to have a bowel movement. Straining can also result in rectal prolapse, which is when a small section of intestinal lining pushes through the anal opening. Anal fissures, or small tears in the skin around the anus, can occur when straining to pass hard stools, causing pain, itching, and bleeding.
What Is Frequent Urination?
Frequent urination is the need to urinate more often than usual. Although everyone's urinary schedules are unique, urinating about six to eight times during a 24-hour period is typically normal for healthy individuals. In some cases, frequent urination can indicate an underlying medical condition, especially if it's accompanied by other unpleasant symptoms.
Causes of Frequent Urination
For some, frequent urination may be normal. For example, hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause individuals to visit the bathroom more frequently. Women also commonly experience frequent urination as they age and enter menopause, due to lower estrogen levels causing the bladder to weaken. However, frequent urination can indicate a larger health problem that requires treatment. Some possible causes of frequent urination include:
Urinary tract, bladder, or pelvic conditions
- Drinking too many fluids
- Consuming caffeine or alcohol
- Stroke or other neurological diseases
- Stress or anxiety
Signs of Frequent Urination
The consistent urge to urinate is the primary sign of frequent urination. Depending on your condition, you may experience other physical symptoms, such as:
- Painful urination
- Back or abdominal pain
- Dribbling after urinating
- Unusual urine color or smell
- Urinary incontinence
- Frequent urination at night
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Bloody urine
Effects of Frequent Urination on the Body
Frequent urination can negatively affect your quality of life, such as restricting when you leave the house and where you go if you aren't sure there's an available bathroom. Certain medical conditions causing frequent urination can also cause other physical symptoms, including fever, vomiting, back or side pain, and fatigue. If that's the case, it's important to see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
Can Constipation Cause Frequent Urination?
Constipation can affect urination in several ways because of how it impacts different parts of the body.
The Link Between Constipation and Frequent Urination
Constipation can cause frequent urination when your colon becomes enlarged from stool buildup, placing more pressure on your bladder. This pressure can constrict the urethra, which is the tube that releases urine from the body. You may feel the need to urinate more urgently and frequently or experience bladder leaks.
How Constipation Can Affect the Bladder
Constipation can affect bladder control because of how close the bladder and colon are in the body. The bladder may not be able to fill up as much when the colon becomes too full from stool buildup. This buildup can also cause the bladder to not empty well or to contract before it's ready. These effects can lead to other problems, such as urinary incontinence, frequent urination throughout the night, or urinary tract infections.
The Role of the Pelvic Floor Muscles
Constipation can also affect your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles play an important role in bladder and bowel control because they stretch from the pubic bone in the front of the body to the coccyx, or tailbone, in the back. To keep your bladder and bowels functioning correctly, these muscles need to be strong to hold in urine and stool. Placing excessive stress on pelvic organs and nerves, whether it's from constipation, pregnancy, childbirth, or weight-lifting, can weaken these muscles, causing bladder dysfunction or accidental bowel leakage.
How Treating Constipation Can Improve Urinary Symptoms
Treating constipation can reduce urinary problems by reducing pressure on the bladder that may be causing frequent urination. This allows the bladder to fill up to capacity and can help you hold urine longer. You also won't have to strain as much to pass stool, meaning your pelvic floor muscles will remain strong and give you more control over your bladder and bowel functions.
How to Treat and Prevent Frequent Urination Caused by Constipation
Frequent urination and constipation can usually be treated with lifestyle changes that promote healthy bladder and bowel functions. Many of these changes can be done at home, but medical treatments are also available for more serious health complications. These lifestyle changes include:
- Staying hydrated: Although drinking a lot of water can cause frequent urination, staying hydrated can relieve constipation. It works by making stool softer, so it can pass more smoothly. Sipping warm liquids, such as decaffeinated tea, can also help because they widen the blood vessels in your digestive system and increase blood flow. This can stimulate the bowel to help stool pass. On the other hand, dehydrating drinks, such as caffeinated sodas and alcoholic beverages, should be avoided.
- Having a balanced diet: Certain foods, such as those high in fiber, are known to help reduce constipation. Prunes or prune juice are high in fiber and can help regulate bowel movements. Adding probiotics to your diet, such as yogurt or sauerkraut, can soften stool, making it easier to pass. Other foods that may help with constipation include beans, broccoli, clear soups, grapes, apples, pears, and wheat bran.
- Exercising every day: Moving your body daily can get your bowels moving and may cause more regular bowel movements. Exercise also speeds up how quickly food passes through the intestines by increasing blood flow, and some exercises may help with bladder and bowel control. Kegels strengthen your pelvic floor muscles by tightening and releasing them and are known to help with urinary incontinence. Make sure to check with your doctor first before starting any new fitness or exercise routine.
- Using the restroom as needed: If you feel the urge to go to the bathroom, don't hold it in. This can result in nerve damage in the rectum, which can worsen your problem over time. You can also try establishing a regular bathroom schedule by attempting to urinate or move your bowels at the same time each day. This can help train your body and give you more control over bladder and bowel functions.
Certain medications may also help reduce constipation. For instance, laxatives, such as fiber supplements or stool softeners, are commonly used to assist with bowel movements, but they should only be used for a short period. Overusing laxatives can make it difficult to move your bowels naturally.
It's important to consult a doctor before trying medication to ensure you're taking the right kind and dosage for your needs. If constipation lasts for several days, a suppository or enema can help clear the rectum of stool buildup. In severe cases, surgery may be needed to repair muscle or nerve damage.
There are also plenty of home remedies you can try to relieve constipation and prevent frequent urination. Ginger helps with constipation by reducing pressure on the lower intestines, which can alleviate stress on your bladder. Omega-3 oil, including fish oil and flaxseed, lubricates intestinal walls, making it easier to pass stool. Adjusting how you sit on the toilet is another effective way to empty your bowels. Using a stool that allows you to sit with your knees higher than your hips can aid in bowel movements.
When to See a Doctor
Medical intervention won't always be necessary, especially if the constipation goes away within a few days, and your bowel and bladder functions return to normal. However, seeing a doctor may be necessary if these conditions persist.
Warning Signs Indicating You Should See a Doctor
If you've tried multiple home remedies and nothing seems to be working, it may be time to see a doctor. Other warning signs that may require medical attention include:
- Frequent or prolonged urinary urgency
- Bloody stool or urine
- Constant abdominal pain
- Vomiting or nausea
- Difficulty urinating
- Lower back pain
- Inability to control urine or bowel movements
- Unintentional weight loss
What to Expect During a Doctor's Visit
Talking to a doctor about your bowel movements may be uncomfortable and unpleasant. However, doctors are trained professionals who are there to help and have experience discussing almost every health topic. They'll likely ask a few questions to gather personal information on:
- Current and past health conditions
- Previous surgeries, particularly on the digestive tract or the abdominal area
- Medications or supplements for constipation relief and other disorders
- Whether you've had a colonoscopy
- Recent weight loss or gain
- Family history of constipation, colon cancer, and other digestive tract diseases
Your doctor will also ask questions specifically about your bowel movements, urination, and current lifestyle habits to better understand your unique situation, including:
- How often you have bowel movements or urinate
- What your stool and urine look like
- Whether there's been any blood or red streaks in your stool or urine
- What food and beverages you consume
- What your exercise routine consists of
These questions are meant to help your doctor determine what may be causing constipation and frequent urination, so they can arrange for the appropriate exams.
Tests and Examinations That May Be Conducted
Whether your doctor arranges a test or exam will depend on your medical history, overall health, and severity of symptoms. Lab tests are one of the most common. Your doctor may take a stool sample to check for inflammation, infections, or cancer. Blood and urine tests may be conducted to check for diabetes. Other common tests include:
- Colonoscopy: A procedure that inspects your colon internally with a scope. A small tissue sample may be retrieved to test for cancer and other health problems.
- Imaging tests: These can include a CT, MRI, or lower gastrointestinal tract series to identify what may be causing your bladder and bowel issues.
- Colorectal transit study: A test that involves consuming a small capsule to track how it moves through the colon. The capsule's movement is tracked with abdominal X-rays several times after it's swallowed.
- Digital rectal examination: A physical exam where a doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to evaluate the muscles. This exam can help detect obstructions, stool buildup, and any other rectal issues causing constipation.
The Bottom Line
Constipation can cause frequent urination because of the bladder and colon's proximity to each other. While neither of these conditions is ideal, there are several ways you can help reduce constipation and frequent urination in the comfort of your home, including staying hydrated, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a regular bathroom schedule. However, if home remedies don't alleviate symptoms, it's important to seek medical attention immediately and get an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
If frequent urination is negatively impacting your life, Nexwear has several premium products, such as underwear and pads, to accommodate light or heavy leakage. These products are discreet and comfortable and come in various styles, so you can feel confident and secure no matter where you are. Take control of your life and shop Nexwear today.