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Constipation: The Embarrassing Hypothyroidism Symptom That May Save Lives

Dana Trentini, Contributor
Thyroid Nation

June 2003, New York City, Dana Trentini, Hypothyroid Mom openly shares her story about Constipation.

“Dana, we recommend the first colonoscopy at age 50. You are only 33 years old. I highly doubt it is necessary. However given your father’s recent colon cancer diagnosis and your current symptoms, we will schedule your colonoscopy.’ “Dana, we will begin the procedure now, it shouldn’t take long.” “Dana, we removed a large size colon polyp. Fortunately it is benign. I can’t believe the size of this polyp considering you are only 33 years old. I don’t know what would have happened if you had waited until age 50 for your first colonoscopy. Thank your father. He may have saved your life today.”

I would like to thank my father for encouraging me 10 years ago to speak with my doctor about a topic that was too embarrassing to discuss – my lifelong constipation. My dad is no longer with us, but I know he is watching over me right now as I type this article. By sharing our story, we may save the life of a reader here today. Thank you Dad. 

My Lifelong Constipation

Constipation is a taboo subject that no one likes to discuss. However it is a very real issue for hypothyroidism sufferers. In order to make real change at Hypothyroid Mom, we must discuss all the issues including the most embarrassing ones. So here it goes. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism following the birth of my first son in 2006, however I have really suffered from hypothyroidism symptoms ever since I was a baby. To tell you the truth, constipation has been an issue ever since I can remember. I even landed in the emergency room from severe constipation once during a vacation. In 2003, my husband and I decided to take a trip of a lifetime to Asia visiting Hong Kong, Shanghai and Cambodia. It was an incredible trip. However like all vacations, constipation was an issue during this trip especially when I returned home. This particular time I found some blood when I used the toilet, not a great deal but enough to catch my attention. It went away and I almost passed it off as normal from the constipation. My father had been diagnosed with colon cancer that year. He insisted I get myself checked out. I went to my doctor with my symptoms along with my family history of colon cancer. At that time I was only 33 years old. “Dana, the blood you experienced in your stool was from an internal hemorrhoid. In addition to your colon polyp, you have diverticulosis, pouches in the wall of the colon. Your chronic constipation is a serious health issue that needs to be resolved.”

Hypothyroidism & Constipation

Have you ever checked the drugstore aisle for laxatives and stool softeners? Have you ever noticed how many products are on those shelves? Constipation is one of the classic signs of an under-active thyroid. Without enough thyroid hormone, many of the body’s functions slow down. Hypothyroidism slows the action of the digestive tract causing constipation. The Thyroid Federation International estimates there are up to 300 million thyroid sufferers worldwide, yet over half remain undiagnosed. With millions of undiagnosed hypothyroidism sufferers worldwide and millions more insufficiently treated, is it really any wonder why the shelf for constipation remedies is stocked so high? Looking back I’ve suffered from hypothyroidism symptoms including chronic constipation ever since I can remember. When I landed in the emergency room during a vacation from severe constipation, my thyroid was NOT tested. Even when my colon polyp was discovered in 2003, my thyroid was NOT tested. It took landing in the emergency room after my first son was born with excruciatingly painful kidney stones in 2006 to finally receive my hypothyroidism diagnosis.

Are you reading this article right now and suffer from constipation but you’ve never had your thyroid tested? Please get tested.


It wasn’t until I found a great thyroid doctor who listened to my symptoms and worked with me to find optimal treatment that I was finally on the road to overcoming the constipation that had plagued me my whole life. I knew the time had come to open up about my constipation and share with my doctor exactly what was happening. I am so happy I did.

How I Reversed My Constipation

We are each unique in how our bodies react to different substances. Consult with your doctor before trying any supplements mentioned at Hypothyroid Mom to be sure they are safe for you and to determine the ideal dosage for you. Be sure to take a look at the links in this list because they were each carefully selected to provide additional important information.

  1. Optimal Thyroid Treatment – It wasn’t until my doctor did comprehensive thyroid testing and explored the thyroid drug options to find what was right for me, that my constipation began improving. This is a critical step for every hypothyroidism sufferer. If you are reading this article right now and you suffer from chronic constipation but you’ve never been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, please get your thyroid tested. If you are being treated with thyroid medication but you still suffer from common symptoms like constipation, take a closer look at whether you are being optimally treated.
  2. Fiber-rich foods –  I added fiber-rich foods to my diet including a variety of beans, avocado, pear, raspberries, blackberries, apples, prunes, and almonds. Be sure to start slowly because a sudden shift to a high fiber diet can cause gas and bloating.
  3. Water – I increased my water intake to 8 glasses of water a day.
  4. Probiotics – I included a probiotic every day.
  5. Omega-3 – I increased Omega-3 in my diet with fish oil, careful to select mercury-free brands.
  6. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil – I included coconut oil in my baking and added it to my smoothies.
  7. Magnesium – All 6 points mentioned above were helpful in improving my constipation. However the real change came when my doctor tested my magnesium level and found it to be below the normal range. Magnesium deficiency is a common issue for hypothyroidism sufferers. Thanks to taking magnesium glycinate every night before bed, I now go regularly every day! That’s a miracle for me. Magnesium has saved my life. If you are suffering from constipation please, please please get your magnesium tested.

TNE-Ad6-Front-Free-ShippingFor weeks I went back and forth on whether this was a topic that I wished to write about here on Hypothyroid Mom. It is very embarrassing to talk about my constipation and I hesitated about sharing it. However I hope that by writing about my personal experience, those of you suffering with constipation will see how important it is to discuss with your doctor. I am not saying that everyone will have colon polyps, hemorrhoids or diverticulosis from chronic constipation as happened to me or develop colon cancer, but an unresolved constipation issue could put your life at risk and should be discussed with your doctor.

By shining light on our symptoms, even the most embarrassing ones, we will CONQUER them!

About the Author

Dana-close-up-copy-x600 Dana Trentini – Who knew this little butterfly-shaped thyroid gland at the base of my neck could affect my life so completely? Hypothyroid Mom was created in memory of the unborn baby I lost to hypothyroidism. Connect with me on Google+ and Follow her on Facebook and Twitter. You can read this original article, here.

Questions or anything to add about constipation? We want your thoughts in the comments section–Please! You might just help someone else in need. 

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  1. Thank you for this post.
    My doctor is hesitant to do a colonoscopy yet (wants me to try a treatment thing first… Not working), but the symptoms are so similar.
    Only difference, when I do go, it is (usually) soft as if I was never constipated.

    I think I will ask for my magnesium to be checked. I do all the rest.

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  4. I love this! I wrote you early today, (to one of your post under the name of “The best medicine for hypothiroidism”), excuse my english by the way , is my second language, I know I make many mistakes when I write. You don’t know how relevant your post is to me. I am currently under treatment, it has been almost two years know, but men, I really want my colon problems to go away. I was seriously considering a enema or a colonoscopy to see what was wrong. Because I don’t want to become hypochondriac I don’t pay attention to many things, I don’t want to blame everything to my thyroid. Sometimes I don’t know if it is something I am doing wrong. People attribute everything to stress nowadays. I am a mental health therapist, so I know that even if we think we are handling our stress properly, it might only be at a cognitive level, thus expresing itself throught our body. But I think this is not my stress. There is something wrong with my body and I don’t know if it is only my thyroid. This post was really nice for me. Thank you. Keep up the good work!

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