Constipated? Jackie Joyner Kersee brings awareness to this medical condition


By Rollingout

At a time when the well being of professional athletes is trending, there aren’t many cases where retired athletes work with socially responsible and equally powerful companies to create national awareness of problems most people are afraid to discuss both in public and in private. Six-time Olympic Gold Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee recently teamed up with global pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo, Inc. to raise awareness of opioid-induced constipation, or OIC. In an exclusive interview, Jackie opens up about her experience being regarded as the greatest female athlete of the 20th century… in pain. While it’s common for most professional athletes to take opioid prescription pain medication due to the rigors of their respective sport, what’s not common is the ability to open up and talk about the after effects of taking these powerful drugs, such as constipation.

Q: Can you tell us more about what you have been working on with AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo?

A: Right now, I’m working with AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo, Inc. to combat this delicate but very important issue. We have teamed up to create an online community at It would be great if your [readers] could go there and try to see themselves in the story. For myself, after being prescribed opioid pain medicine throughout my career, one of the side effects was opioid induced constipation or OIC. I think it would be really great for your readers to check out the site and know that there is help out there for this issue. If you suffer from this illness, it’s really important that you talk to your healthcare provider to make sure you get the right treatment.

Q: Being an Olympic athlete, what kind of toll does that level of competition take on your body?

A: You know, for me at times it’s just unbearable – the things that I have to deal with regarding my ankles and knees. That’s really why I teamed up with AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo to really bring awareness and let people know that there is support. The rigors of global competition takes a tremendous toll on your body and that’s why I’m a part of this campaign bringing awareness to people so that they can understand. When you can’t go to the bathroom, feeling bloated, being sluggish – and being active as I am – I wasn’t as active as I would have liked to be.

Q: Mentally, what was the hardest part in coming to grips with going to your healthcare provider and asking for help on this delicate matter? The blog ( you and your pharmaceutical partners created evokes a sense of community and sometimes a side effect such as OIC might not always be a topic that people would be willing to discuss openly.

A: The hardest part for me was to put my pride aside and have that conversation and to let my healthcare provider know what I was going through. My advice would be to put your pride to the side. It’s an uncomfortable conversation but take it from me, I lived in pain for a long time and it followed me to after my career. OIC is not your regular constipation, so you really have to talk to your healthcare provider; talk to friends or anyone. We know as a community there are certain things that we don’t want to talk about.

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