Chronic Idiopathic Constipation (CIC)?

CIC is a bowel condition with symptoms of lumpy or hard stools, straining, and difficult, infrequent or incomplete bowel movements. Women are more likely to get it than men, and the chances of getting it increase with age and lower calorie intake.

It can be frustrating if you are one of the ~46 million adults in the US living with this disease.*

Discover the muscle that plays a major role in your digestion, and find out why it may not work well enough in some adult patients with CIC.

Chronic means that the symptoms last a long time (at least 6 months), and idiopathic means that the cause is unknown.


CIC & the colon muscle connection

Your colon is a specific type of muscle, called smooth muscle.

Some types of muscles—like smooth muscles and heart muscles—move involuntarily in a coordinated pattern.

For example: the colon, the eyes, the heart, and the lungs all have muscles that move on their own!

Animated icons of a colon, eye, heart and lungs

The smooth muscle of the colon has 2 important jobs.

Number one

It mixes things up

These mixing movements allow more contact between digested contents and colon walls, which assists with absorption.

Animated image of colon contracting
Number two

It makes things move

This is similar to how food moves down the throat. Muscles behind the food squeeze, while the muscles in the front relax to allow contents to be pushed forward.

Animated image of colon squeezing


Colon muscle movements are typically most active during the day—especially after waking up or eating a meal—and often contract right before you have the “urge to go.”


How often do you have the urge to go?

Keep track with our CIC symptom tracker

If your colon muscle isn't working well enough, it can really slow things down.

Some people with CIC have problems with how their colon muscle is working. If your colon muscle isn't moving often or strongly enough, it may not keep things moving the way it should.


Nearly 3 in 4 people with CIC agree that they “generally never feel well” because of their condition. In fact, the average time spent on the toilet by the majority of people with CIC is 1+ hours—EVERY DAY!


Maybe it’s time for a new frame of (muscle) mind!


CIC treatments:
Which have you tried?

  • Fiber supplements
  • Laxatives or stool softeners
  • Other over-the-counter medicines
  • Changes in diet and exercise habits
  • Prescription medicines

Not all over‑the‑counter medicines work the same way. Some (like fiber supplements) work by adding bulk to your stool, while others (like certain laxatives) attract and keep water in your intestines.

Many prescription medicines for CIC help control water in the intestines to help the forming and passing of stool, while others help improve the normal movements of the colon muscle.

When it comes to CIC, talking to your doctor and understanding the role that the colon muscle plays can help put things in perspective.


Some people with CIC reported trying up to 4 over‑the‑counter and/or 3 prescription medicines before finding a treatment that worked well for them.

Did you know?

According to a survey, an overwhelming 83% of people with CIC feel that their symptoms are just something they have to live with.


Ready to talk to your doctor?

Don't give up! There's plenty of options out there. As with any condition, your doctor is your best source of information. Here's a handy CIC SYMPTOM TRACKER to help guide you through the conversation.

There are many CIC medicines available and they work in several ways. Ask your doctor which one may be right for you.