Constipation treatment available online today

In order to treat your constipation, consult with one of our board-certified primary care online doctors to prescribe medication to ease your symptoms and get back on a regular schedule. Get a new prescription to relieve constipation or refill an existing prescription today.*

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*Prescriptions are provided at the doctor's discretion. Learn more about our controlled substances policy and how to save up to 80% with our prescription discount card. PlushCare doctors cannot treat all cases of constipation. Our primary care physicians can conduct an initial evaluation of your symptoms but may need to refer you to a specialist or for in-person treatment. If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Learn about constipation

Constipation is a condition marked by infrequent bowel movements. A person is considered constipated if they have any two of the following features: straining, lumpy hard stools, the sensation of incomplete bowel movement, use of external measures to have a bowel movement, sensation of obstruction or blockage with 25 percent of bowel movements and decrease in stool frequency (less than three bowel movements per week).

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, about four million people in the United States experience frequent constipation. In most cases, treatment for constipation depends on its underlying cause.

There are four types of constipation:

  • Normal transit constipation: During normal transit (unknown cause, also called idiopathic) constipation, the colon moves stool within 24–72 hours. This type of constipation usually doesn't have an underlying cause, and most people respond to fiber or laxative treatment.

  • Outlet constipation: The pelvic floor muscles do not function properly, often due to damage. You might feel like you can't fully empty the stool from your rectum, or you might have to use your fingers to pass stool. Outlet constipation can happen due to outlet obstruction, which blocks the stool from coming out.

  • Slow transit constipation: The food moves through the digestive tract more slowly, leading to infrequent bowel movements. Sometimes, bowel movements may only occur every 2–3 weeks.

  • Secondary constipation: Secondary constipation occurs as a result of an underlying health condition or as a side effect of medication use.

Constipation causes

Constipation happens when waste moves too slowly through the digestive tract or cannot be eliminated effectively from the rectum. When the colon absorbs too much water back into the body, stool consistency can become hard and dry. Constipation has several possible causes, including:

  • Taking certain prescription medications

  • Not drinking enough liquids

  • A lack of fiber

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

    Some forms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) cause constipation.

  • Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement

  • Changes in lifestyle, such as pregnancy or old age

  • Issues related to intestinal function

  • Laxative abuse

  • Blockages in the colon or rectum

    This can be caused by anal fissures, bowel obstructions, or colon cancer.

  • Health conditions that affect hormones

    This includes diabetes.

Constipation symptoms

Constipation affects everyone differently, and symptoms may vary from person to person.

  • Common symptoms of constipation include:

    • Passing fewer than three stools a week

    • Uncomfortable and painful bowel movements

    • Feeling like there's a blockage in your rectum

    • Feeling bloated, sluggish, or uncomfortable

    • Having lumpy or hard stools

    • Abdominal pain

    • Feeling like you can't completely empty the stool from your rectum

    If you've experienced two or more of these symptoms over the last three months, you may have chronic constipation.

How to treat constipation

In general, treating constipation depends on its underlying cause. If you experience any symptoms of constipation, talk to your doctor to explore your treatment options.

One of our trusted doctors may recommend lifestyle changes to treat constipation, such as:

  • Making changes to your diet (i.e., by increasing your dietary fiber intake or taking fiber supplements)

  • Increasing your water and fluid intake

  • Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine

  • Taking over-the-counter medications, such as stool softeners and laxatives

If home remedies don't work, your doctor may prescribe a medication for relieving constipation. In some cases, your doctor may recommend biofeedback therapy or surgery.

Constipation medication

Several medications can relieve constipation. Some medications are over-the-counter treatments, while others require a doctor's prescription. Common over-the-counter constipation medications include:

  • Fiber supplements

    Calcium polycarbophil (FiberCon)

    Methylcellulose fiber (Citrucel)

    Psyllium (Metamucil)

  • Osmotic laxatives

    Polyethylene glycol (Miralax)

    Magnesium citrate

    Magnesium hydroxide (Milk of Magnesia)

  • Stool softeners

    Docusate sodium (Colace)

  • Prescription medication

    These include prescription laxatives and treat chronic constipation. They include:

    Constulose (lactulose) Linzess (linaclotide)

    Lubiprostone (Amitiza)

    Plecanatide (Trulance)

    Polyethylene glycol (Golyely, Nulytely)

    Prucalopride (Motegrity)

How to prevent constipation

The same home remedies to treat constipation can help you prevent chronic constipation:

  • Drink plenty of water and fluids

  • Eat plenty of high-fiber foods, such as beans, vegetables, fresh fruits, and bran cereal

  • Eat fewer lower-fiber foods, such as processed foods, dairy, and meat

  • Stay active and make time for regular exercise

  • Find healthy ways to manage stress

  • Don't ignore the urge to pass stool

  • Try to create a regular schedule for bowel movements

When to see a doctor for constipation treatment

If you experience severe pain, unexplained and persistent changes in your bowel habits, or if constipation persists despite at-home treatment, book an appointment with one of our board-certified primary care doctors to discuss your treatment options to ease constipation.

Some more serious symptoms of constipation which may require professional medical attention include constipation which persists for three weeks despite changes to diet or lifestyle, feelings of intense abdominal pain, or pain which inhibits movement, unintentional weight loss, blood or mucus in your stool, the inability to pass stool, or the development of hemorrhoids as a result of straining to go the bathroom.

Related conditions to constipation

Because constipation can share common symptoms with other digestive and kidney diseases, it's important to talk to your doctor if you experience any symptoms. Your doctor can determine the underlying cause of your constipation so you can follow an appropriate treatment plan.

  • Constipation symptoms may be related to the following health conditions:

    • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

    • Certain types of cancer

      • These include colon and colorectal cancer

    • Endocrine and metabolic disorders

    • Neurological conditions

      • These include multiple sclerosis (MS)

    • Heart disease

    • Lazy bowel syndrome

    • Intestinal obstruction (small bowel obstruction, also called SBO)

    • Multiple organ diseases

    • Structural defects in the digestive tract

      • These include anal fistulas or abscesses

    • Mental health conditions

      • These include anxiety, depression, and eating disorders

Constipation treatment FAQs

  • How long is "too long" to be constipated?

    Bowel regularity varies from person to person, and "regular" bowel movements will depend on your normal stool frequency schedule. If you go more than three days without having a bowel movement, talk to your doctor.

  • What happens if I let constipation go too long without being treated?

    Without treatment, chronic constipation can cause excessive straining and pain. Over time, it can lead to serious complications, such as hemorrhoids and anal fissures.

    In some cases, chronic constipation can develop into fecal impactions, where stool becomes stuck in the rectum and prevents other stool from passing. Fecal impaction can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and other uncomfortable symptoms.

    If you feel like something is blocking your stool, seek immediate medical attention.

  • Will a stool softener help my constipation?

    While over-the-counter stool softeners may be effective for some people, there's no evidence that they improve symptoms. Stool softeners can provide short-term relief from mild constipation.

  • Will I need surgery to fix my constipation?

    Surgery for constipation is a last-resort treatment. Most cases of constipation can be treated with fiber-rich foods, lifestyle changes, and laxative therapy.

    Surgery may be an effective treatment if you've tried other treatments, or if your chronic constipation is caused by a blockage, rectocele, or stricture—structures that block stool from leaving the body.

  • What should I not do when constipated?

    Lifestyle and behavioral changes can help unclog your digestive tract, improve digestive health, and encourage bowel movements, but some changes can make it harder for you to get back to a regular schedule.

    If you're constipated, avoid:

    • Adding fiber to your diet too fast: Eating high-fiber foods is important, but add fiber to your diet slowly. Eating too much fiber too fast (through a fiber supplement or fiber-rich foods) can lead to painful bloating and gas. Try aiming for 20–35 grams of fiber daily, but add no more than 5 grams each day.

    • Drinking alcohol: Alcohol can disrupt the regularity of your bowel movements, leaving your body dehydrated. Sometimes, drinking can make your stools harder to pass. Drink plenty of water to soften stools and reduce the effects of constipation.

    • Eating dairy products: Milk and cheese can make constipation worse. Try avoiding dairy products when you're dealing with constipation and defecation problems.

  • Why am I constipated?

    Diet is the leading cause of constipation. Too many processed foods or a diet with fiber intake can make your stool hard, dry, and difficult to pass. Certain medications can cause constipation, such as opioids taken after surgery. A sedentary lifestyle, pregnancy, and dehydration are also common causes.

3 simple steps to request treatment for constipation today

Step 1

Book a constipation treatment appointment.

Book a same day appointment from anywhere.

Step 2

Talk to your medical provider regarding your constipation symptoms.

Visit with a doctor on your smartphone or computer.

Step 3

Pick up a prescription to treat constipation, if provided

We can send prescriptions to any local pharmacy.

Constipation treatment pricing details

How pricing works

To request constipation treatment and get a new or refill on your prescription, join our monthly membership and get discounted visits.

Paying with insurance



First month free



30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price with insurance

Often the same as an office visit. Most patients with in-network insurance pay $30 or less!

  • We accept these insurance plans and many more:

    • Humana
    • Aetna
    • Cigna

Paying without insurance



First month free



30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price without insurance

Initial visits are $129.

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If we're unable to treat you, we'll provide a full refund.


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PlushCare content is reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, nutritionists, and other healthcare professionals. Learn more about our editorial standards and meet the medical team. The PlushCare site or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.