A postal health survey was completed by 14,761 young women (aged 18-23 years), 14,070 middle-aged women (45-50 years) and 12,893 older women (70-75 years). The prevalence of constipation was 14.1% (CI 13.5-14.7) in young women, 26.6% (CI 25.9-27.4) in middle-aged women, and 27% (CI 26.9-28.5) in the older women. The prevalence of hemorrhoids was 3.2% (CI 2.9-3.4 young), 17.7% (CI 17.1-18.4 middle-aged) and 18.3% (CI 17.6-19.0 older). In the middle-aged and older women, those who reported previous gynecologic surgery were between 18% and 63% more likely to report constipation; in the younger cohort, women with one or two children were also more likely to report constipation (adjusted OR 1.43-1.46). One-third of the young women and half the middle-aged and older women had sought help for constipation; the majority indicated that they were satisfied with the help available to them.