If you suffer from constipation, you probably don’t visit the washroom very often. If you don’t have constipation or diarrhea, for that matter, but still visit the bathroom numerous times a day, is that normal?
Regarding bowel movements, it’s hard to know what’s normal and what’s not because we’re all different. A person’s unique diet, physical activity level, and age can all contribute to how often one visits the bathroom. You may believe that as long as your stool is somewhat solid and of a healthy color, it doesn’t matter how often you go. However, if you go “too often,” regardless of what your stool looks like, something can be wrong.
How many times a day should you poop?
There is no absolute answer to the question “how many times a day should I poop?” or “how often should I poop?” As long as you fall outside the diagnosis of diarrhea and constipation, you have a normal poop frequency. Typically, pooping anywhere from three times a day to three times a week is considered normal, with most people pooping the same number of times and at a similar time of day on a consistent basis.
A survey involving more than 2,000 people found the following results:
- Almost 50 percent of people poop at least once a day. Another 28 percent reported pooping twice a day, and only 5.8 percent said they only poop once or twice a week.
- Over 60 percent reported having bowel movements in the morning. Another 22 percent reported going in the afternoon, and only 2.6 percent pooped very late at night.
- Over 30 percent of survey participants reported the poop consistency being sausage or snake-like, and of smooth and soft consistency.
How often should you poop?
When it comes to regularity, what’s the ideal number? As mentioned, it’s difficult to set a normal amount of times to go, but on average, people tend to visit the bathroom for number two between three times a week or three times a day.
It can vary for each person, so knowing your own bathroom routine is important to spot any changes. If you fall on the lower spectrum, typically going three times a week, it would then be weird if you started going daily. On the other hand, if you go three times a day but suddenly switch to three times a week, that is also a cause for concern.
What it means when you have abnormal bowel movements
So you’ve noticed changes in your bowel movements, and yet you don’t feel sick. Should you still be concerned? The answer is yes.
First and foremost, it’s important to determine how long the changes have persisted to help you narrow down the culprit. Another important factor to examine is your diet. Have you changed your diet and, in turn, your bowel movements have changed? For example, short-term stool changes can result from an increase in alcohol or even artificial sweeteners.
Additionally, if you’ve aimed to eat healthier and have increased your fiber content – either from fruits, vegetables, or whole grains – this can lead to softened stool, so you don’t need to worry too much in that case.
If you’re fighting off an infection and taking medications, these can affect your stool, too.
If diet or medication cannot be pinpointed as the cause of your bowel changes, you will have to look back at longevity. If your bowel movements don’t return to normal after two weeks, it may be time to visit your doctor.
Lastly, if bowel movement changes are accompanied by nausea, vomiting, blood in the stool, or abdominal pain, seek medical attention immediately.
How your doctor can help
Based on your symptoms, your doctor can run specific tests to narrow down possible culprits. Symptoms like gas, bloating, joint pain, and mouth sores are common symptoms of celiac disease. Your doctor may request a colonoscopy or advise you to steer clear of foods containing gluten to see if the symptoms go away.
Blood in the stool also warrants a colonoscopy, as it is a common symptom of many inflammatory bowel diseases. If that test comes back clean, the potential cause may be irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
How to minimize trips to the bathroom
If you want to decrease the number of visits you make to the bathroom, there are a few things to consider. One step may be to look at your diet. Are you eating too much fiber or too little? Try switching your fiber from insoluble to soluble (found in oats and apples).
Check for any food intolerances because these reactions may also lead to more frequent trips to the bathroom.
Antibiotics can minimize your good bacteria count. If you’re taking any, it may be a good idea to take a probiotic to relieve your digestive tract.
Other ways to promote healthy bowel movements include:
Increase physical activity
Being physically active can significantly impact your digestive system, perhaps surprisingly so! Exercise can help to stimulate your intestinal muscles, which are responsible for pushing stool through your body.
This is why taking a quick walk, jogging, or engaging in any form of physical activity can effectively encourage a bowel movement. Therefore, physical activity isn’t just good for physical fitness but also for regular digestion as well.
Do not ignore the urge to poop
Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement can cause various health issues. It’s essential to take the time to complete your bowel movement without feeling rushed or distracted. This allows your colon enough time to empty completely and prevents you from straining when trying to release waste.
Taking the necessary amount of time to clean yourself as well is an important part of the bowel movement process. Without spending adequate time tending to yourself, you can risk infection and further discomfort! Avoid these risks by being sure not to ignore your body when it is trying to tell you something.
Drinking water regularly is an important part of having regular bowel movements. When you consciously drink more water daily, it helps get your body into a rhythm for easier bowel movement passage.
Water helps keep bowel movements soft, and by drinking enough throughout the day, you can reduce the strain that comes with constipation or difficulty passing bowel movements. Keeping the digestive system well hydrated also makes it much easier for your body to eliminate waste easily. So if you’re looking for an easy way to avoid problems with your bowel movements, start incorporating more water into your daily routine!
It appears that coffee can get more than just your morning jumpstarted; recent research suggests that it may help people have a bowel movement. Caffeine is known to stimulate digestive systems, and many studies have shown that consuming caffeine can reduce the risk of constipation, act as an enhanced laxative, and lower the risk for bowel issues.
While drinking coffee does not replace essential vitamins or minerals needed for overall bowel health, it could be a beneficial addition to your daily routine if you’re trying to resolve constipation.
Eat fruits, nuts, grains, and vegetables
Fiber is an important part of our diet, as it adds bulk to bowel movements and helps them move through the digestive system. This can help reduce constipation and prevent stool from sitting too long in the bowel. Eating foods high in fiber regularly can keep your bowel movements running smoothly, resulting in fewer health problems and greater overall wellness.
There are both soluble and insoluble fibers, so it’s essential to make sure your diet includes plenty of nutritious food sources like whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and nuts to ensure you’re getting enough fiber in your daily meals.
Change your bathroom posture
Using posture to help bowel movements may sound like a funny thought, but it turns out that it can make a significant difference! It’s all about the angle; changing your angle of sitting on the toilet can impact the angle of your colon and increase circulation, allowing for smoother bowel movements.
One simple way to adjust this angle is by using a toilet footstool. Simply slide one under your feet when you sit down to give yourself an extra boost. Doing so makes your bowel movement more comfortable and effective in comparison to not doing so. Try it out today and see if it makes a difference in how you feel after!
Train your pelvic muscles
Knowing when to relax your pelvic floor muscles during a bowel movement can help significantly reduce the effort it takes to pass stool. Your pelvic floor muscles are a group of interconnected muscles in your pelvis that support your bladder, bowel, and uterus. When these muscles are contracted, the passage of bowel movements is more difficult; relaxing them at the ideal moments will allow you to pass stool much more easily. Knowing how and when to relax your pelvic floor muscles may take some practice, but it is undoubtedly worth the effort in the long run.
We can learn a lot from our trips to the bathroom by taking the time to notice and recognize any changes in our routine.