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6 Reasons You Can't Poop

Get things moving again by addressing these habits.

Not being able to poop can be frustrating, not to mention, incredibly uncomfortable. Constipation happens when stool is challenging to pass and you're not going to the bathroom as often as you normally would during the week, the Cleveland Clinic explains. Everyone's regular bowel movements are different—some may experience them a few times daily, and others may only poop once or twice each week. But whatever your unique pattern may be, the more time that passes before you go to the bathroom, the more challenging it will be for the stool to exit your body. We spoke with Dr. Peyton Berookim (MD, MA, FACG, AGAF) at the Gastroenterology Institute of Southern California and advisor to BelliWelli, who shares some reasons why you can't poop and exactly how to deal with constipation.

Keep reading to learn about the reasons you can't poop, and next, don't miss the 6 Worst Lifestyle Habits That Are Making You Constipated.

You're not exercising enough.

man walking getting exercise outdoors near tropical beach

Getting in just the right amount of exercise daily is important for your overall health—and it helps relieve constipation! According to WebMD, exercise decreases the amount of time the food you consume passes through your large intestine. This reduces how much water your body soaks up from the stool. (After all, stool that's dry and hard is more troublesome to get rid of.)

WebMD recommends performing any intense exercise an hour after eating a big meal. Berookim stresses the importance of adding more physical activity to your routine. Even just 10 to 15 minutes can make a major difference!

You're not eating enough high-fiber foods.

high-fiber foods

So long as you drink sufficient water, fiber is your best friend if you're looking to relieve constipation. "Our gut microbiome is affected by our diet and lifestyle, so it's important that we provide our bodies with the right amount of fiber (around 25 to 28 grams of fiber daily average) and diversify bacteria," Berookim explains.

Choose healthier snacks with probiotics and fiber rather than options that are packed with salt, sugar, and fat. Berookim personally recommends BelliWelli bars because they're a seamless way to work additional fiber into your day (three or four grams per bar). They also give you your daily fill of probiotics (500 million CFUs per bar—more than some kombuchas and yogurts). Plus, they're delicious and use real ingredients like almond butter, oats, and chia seeds that help support a healthy digestive system and regular bowel movements.

You're eating too many gut-irritating foods.

dairy products

What you put into your body has a massive impact on your gut health and bowel movements. Berookim says you should ditch any gut-irritating foods and beverages such as spice foods, alcohol, soda, dairy, caffeinated drinks, and gluten. After cutting them out, wait to see if there's a change in your bowel movements.

"Another reason BelliWelli bars are great—they're Monash low-fodmap certified so very gently on the gut and are free from ingredients that tend to cause bloat or discomfort such as dairy and gluten," he adds.

You're not drinking enough water during the day.

close-up hand pouring water

An extremely crucial yet simple daily nutrient that's often overlooked is water! Berookim explains dehydration is the most typical cause of constipation, so making sure you're consuming just the right amount of fluid ounces each day (i.e. half a gallon/day) is necessary if you want to keep your bowel movements regular.

"Fruits such as watermelon, grapes, oranges, and grapefruit are not only high in fiber but a great source of water," he explains. "Coconut water is also a great source of hydration."

You're under too much stress.

man stressed close-up

Stress is already so unhealthy for your body, but did you know that being stressed out could also be the culprit behind your constipation? Anything your brain classifies as "stress" is also looked at that way by your bowels, GoodRx Health explains. Stress can actually alter the discharge and action of your bowel's neurotransmitters, which can greatly impact how your bowel functions and result in constipation.

If you think stress is causing constipation, there are plenty of things you can try. GoodRx Health recommends meditating, practicing mindfulness, performing deep-breathing exercises, doing yoga, utilizing your support system, exercising, and being around animals.

You're dealing with an underlying medical condition.


Last but not least in our list of the reasons why you can't poop is you may be dealing with an underlying medical condition. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or a low-action/underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can both cause constipation. It's always a smart idea to check in with your healthcare provider or a gastroenterologist to pinpoint exactly what's going on so they can provide the right course of attack for you.

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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