Do you know how often you should poop? You might think that the frequency of your bowel movements is a personal matter, but it’s actually a key indicator of your overall health.
If you aren’t going to the bathroom regularly, some things could be causing it. Find out what they are and get back on track with our guide!
Read this blog post now for our free guide on how often one should poop!
How often should you poop?
Pooping once a day is considered healthy. However, pooping less than three times per week could be due to constipation, while more frequent visits than three times per day might indicate diarrhea, either of which could be signs of poor gut health.
A frequent problem when pooping is diarrhea. It could indicate acute illnesses like viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu), food intolerance, or sensitivity. So you have to watch your stool frequency and your pooping habits.
What is constipation?
Constipation is a condition in which the stool (solid waste material from digestion) becomes hard, dry, and difficult to pass. Most people have constipation at some point in their lifetime, but they often do not talk about it.
If you think that your bowel patterns are regular but still feel uncomfortable or painful, you may suffer constipation.
It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of constipation to prevent long-term complications such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, urinary tract infections (UTIs), appendicitis, or bowel obstruction.
What causes a person to become constipated?
Constipation can develop for many different reasons, including:
- Sometimes you may eat a certain food that does not agree with you.
- A diet low in fiber and high in fat or sugar can also contribute to constipation.
- Health conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.
- Food poisoning.
- Certain medications such as painkillers, antidepressants, diuretics, antacids, antihistamines.
- Iron supplements, calcium channel blockers (used to treat high blood pressure), anticholinergic drugs (used to treat overactive bladder)
- Antipsychotics and even some antibiotics can cause constipation.
How is constipation diagnosed?
If you have signs of constipation, you will want to schedule an appointment with your doctor for a complete physical exam. During this exam, your doctor will assess you for signs of constipation.
They may also take your medical history and family history and ask you many questions about yourself. Your doctor can check to see if you have become constipated by pressing on your abdomen with their hands.
This is called palpation. If you stay as hard or your bowel movement patterns are as small as you were the week before, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.
The severity of constipation will be determined by how you responded to the initial investigation and examination. There are four categories used in diagnosing constipation; Diagnostic Category I, II, III, and IV.
Diagnostic Category I
Suppose you had a bowel movement within three days of the initial examination. You were completely asymptomatic, and you have no stools remaining after palpation.
Diagnostic Category II
You had a bowel movement more than three days ago. But it was less than 50% of your usual poop size, or you still feel pain/discomfort on palpation.
Diagnostic Category III
You did not have a bowel movement at the initial examination. But you were completely asymptomatic, and you had all your stool removed after palpation.
Diagnostic Category IV
You did not have a normal bowel movement within three days of the initial examination, nor did you have an adequate bowel movement frequency at the time of the exam. You also have discomfort or pain upon palpation.
The diagnosis you receive will determine which category you fit into best and can help you determine what your next course of action should be to get relief from your constipation.
What are the symptoms of constipation?
There are several signs that you may be suffering from constipation, and your digestive system is not working properly. You may be constipated if you notice any of the following:
- Small, hard, dry bowel habits and you are uncomfortable passing them
- You feel bloated all the time
- Your stomach feels tight, or you have pain in your lower abdomen
- Unable to pass any normal bowel movements, even if you try at home using over-the-counter medicines you have to strain for several minutes or feel you need to push, you may be suffering from constipation.
- You pass hard, dry stools more than three times a week
- You pass fewer than three bowel movements in a week
- Bowel movements are small and round
- Abdominal pain
Treatment options for constipation
If you have tested positive for constipation, you have several treatment options to help you relieve your symptoms. Your doctor will walk you through these options and help you decide which is best for you.
Dietary changes to improve your digestive health. You can make them by eating more fiber, increasing fluid intake by drinking more water. Also, reducing or eliminating fat and sugar from your diet. This will help you stay regular as you continue to take antibiotics.
Medications you can use to help you stay regular include stool softeners, laxatives, and osmotic agents. Stool softeners will make your stools more watery, making them easier to pass, while laxatives are medications that stimulate your bowels to contract and move the bowels along.
Osmotic agents are medications that help you stay hydrated and draw water into your bowels to soften them.
Enemas or suppositories
Enemas, you can receive an enema at the doctor’s office or buy enema kits in a drugstore. An enema is like giving your body a quick cleanse by flushing out the colon.
Manual manipulation of the bowel (also known as manual evacuation)
Manual evacuation you can have your doctor perform a manual evacuation. This process cleans you out by manually removing the hard stool from your colon to relieve you of your symptoms.
Procedures you may be eligible for a colectomy surgery, or you may be required to have a bowel resection.
These procedures are similar in that you are having your large intestine removed. However, you can only have a resection if you do not have any other medical conditions, making surgery too risky.
If you are a candidate for any of these options, you will want to schedule an appointment with your doctor and discuss which option is right for you.
How to prevent constipation
You can prevent constipation by making small dietary changes to your routine. These include adding more high-fiber foods to your diet and drinking plenty of water each day.
Making these simple changes can help you avoid the discomfort you feel when you are constipated. You should also make sure you are taking your medication as prescribed, and you should not wait too long between bowel movements.
If you do not make dietary changes, you should still try to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Also, you should move your body by exercising or taking part in physical activity for 30-60 minutes every day.
If you are still having trouble, you should contact your doctor for more information about potential treatment options that you may not be aware of.
What should healthy poop look like?
A healthy stool is usually brown in color, and you should have three or more bowel movements per day. You should also be able to pass your stool without straining or feeling you need to push. Your stool will not be hard and dry, but it should feel like the consistency of soft-serve ice cream so you can pass them easily.
How often should you poop? The bottom line is that the best way to avoid constipation and other problems associated with poor digestion (like digestive disorders, heartburn, or acid reflux) is by sticking to a healthy diet.
Eating plenty of fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains will help you maintain regular bowel movements without having to strain too hard.
If you’re worried about your poop schedule but don’t want to change what you eat for fear of losing weight…don’t worry!
Medically reviewed and approved by Nataniel Josue M D.