There are many interesting phrases that we use to avoid talking about poop, but it is an important topic to discuss.
Bowel movements are essential for your health, because in this way your body removes waste.
But how often should you poop every day, week or month?
Learn what’s normal (and not) when it comes to bowel movements.
How often should a healthy person defecate?
There is no set number of times you should go per day or per week. Everyone’s digestive system is different and some people naturally go more often than others.
“There is a lot of variation in bowel movements from person to person,” says Bryan Curtin, MD, MHSc, director of neurogastroenterology and motility at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.
“In general, normal can range from one bowel movement every three to four days to three bowel movements per day,” explains Curtin.
A 2010 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology found that most people fall somewhere in that range.
No matter how often you normally poop, your bathroom habits are likely to follow a relatively predictable pattern, so watch for big changes in that pattern.
Do you poop too often – or not often enough?
If your frequency falls outside this range, it could be a signal that something is wrong with your body.
Having bowel movements less than three times a week would be considered constipation, adds Alexander Lightstone Borsand, MD, an Arizona-based lifestyle medicine physician.
If you feel like something isn’t right, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor.
What Can Affect Your Bowel Habits?
While we all have our own bathroom schedules, many factors can affect how often we go:
Both acute and chronic stress can affect the parasympathetic nervous system, leading to ‘stress constipation’.
What you eat — or don’t eat — can affect how well your body clears waste.
Fiber – an indigestible carbohydrate that comes from plants – is one of the most important nutrients our bodies need.
Certain types of fiber feed the good bacteria in our guts, while others can provide bulk to ease transit time.
Depending on age, dietary guidelines recommend between 22 and 28 grams of fiber per day for women and between 28 and 34 grams of fiber per day for men.
If you don’t get enough fiber, you may be less regular.
Eating plenty of whole foods that contain fiber is the best way to stay regular, but if you don’t have access to a variety of fresh vegetables, a green supplement can help fill in the gaps in your diet.
And if you follow a plant-based diet — or do a short-term cleanse — your fiber intake can help you experience more frequent bowel movements.
Our digestive processes naturally slow down as we age, which affects how often we go to number two.
The large intestine absorbs excess water when processing waste products. If you’re dehydrated, it can pull out too much water, leaving you with hardened poop that’s hard to pass.
“If you’re constipated, the first step is to make sure you drink at least 64 ounces of water a day,” Curtin.
Any movement that comes with exercise can help bring things down — which is why the American Gastroenterological Association recommends exercise to help relieve constipation.
Even something as simple as a short walk or gentle yoga can help get things going.
Certain medical conditions can cause people to poop more or less than usual.
That includes chronic illnesses like ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s disease, along with short-term illnesses like the stomach flu.
And some medications can have constipation or diarrhea as a side effect.
It comes down to
Instead of focusing on the frequency of your bowel movements, pay attention to your usual poo schedule and check for any sudden changes or digestive problems.