How Often Should I Poop?

How often does the average person poop?


A quick fecal fact — if you typically poop the same number of times a day, every day, you’re probably normal and healthy, regardless of the actual number of times that turns out to be.  But let’s get the poop on pooping punctuality.

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How many times a day should I be having a bowel movement is one of the most common questions that doctors used to get back in the good old days, and one of the most frequent questions on the Internet.

Pooping is a necessity of life. Those (usually) daily bowel movements allow you to empty processed waste from your body via the digestive system. While everyone poops, the frequency of bowel movements varies greatly.

Not surprisingly, there have been a number of medical studies and informal surveys that have looked into how many times a day people poop.  Overall, the results indicate that normal, healthy people can have three bowel movements a day to three a week.  

For the most part, the consistency and color of your stool will be a better indicator of digestive health, and overall health, than how often you poop.  That being said, if you don’t have enough, or too many bowel movements (especially diarrhea), you might have health problems that deserve extra attention and investigation.

How Often Should I Poop?

As stated, there is no official or optimal number of bowel movements per day.  The most common range is three bowel movements a day to three a week. What doctors are more concerned about is how regular and consistent your bowel movement pattern or schedule is.  Healthy people will tend to poop about the same number of times a day and generally have their bowel movements at the same time each day.  

Pooping Frequency

A survey conducted by Healthline, recorded the bowel movements of more than 2000 volunteers and they got the following results.  About half of the population has a bowel movement once a day… just over a quarter of the population goes twice a day… and under 6% went just once or twice weekly.

Well over half of those in the bowel movement survey reported they typically pooped in the morning… 22% pooped in the afternoon… and less than 3% of people had bowel movements late at night.

What Can Affect Bowel Movement Frequency?

It’s important to remember that pooping statistics can vary greatly depending on geographical, cultural, and other conditions.  Let’s look at things that make you poop more or less frequently.

Diet

The amount of fiber in your diet will have a huge effect on your pooping.  Soluble and insoluble fiber — the kind you’ll find in vegetables, grains, and fruits — will add bulk to your stool, increasing the number and “quality” of your bowel movements. Not always, but usually, low fiber results in less pooping (and harder pooping).  Bear in mind that proper fluid intake is also important for bowel movements as the liquid works with the fiber. That’s why doctors will often prescribe more fluids for constipation.

Age

Your body changes as you age, including your digestive system.  As you get older you’re more likely to be constipated. Some of the more common reasons include reduced gastric movement that typically encourages digestion, taking more medications that can slow bowel movement or affect bowel health, and reduced mobility (regular exercise usually contributes to regular pooping).

Physical Activity

Walking and other types of exercise or movement can result in bowel movement.  Your body in motion can stimulate peristalsis — which is the fancy scientific name for the way your intestines push food through the digestive system until it comes out as poop.

Illness

A variety of chronic illnesses  — for example, Chohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and other inflammatory bowel diseases can result in more frequent  bowel movements, followed by stretches of constipation.

Acute illnesses, like the stomach flu, can slow down your pooping frequency.  There are also a number of pain medications that can cause constipation or slow your bowel movements.

Hormones

Progesterone, estrogen and other hormones, can affect how often a woman a woman poops. For example, some women report looser and more frequent bowel movements leading up to and at the start of their period.

Social factors

Do you have difficulty pooping in public?   Far more people do than you might think! For those who find it difficult to have a bowel movement in a public bathroom, shared work bathroom, or anytime and anywhere other people are nearby, it can lead to holding it in longer than what would be ideal.  If done consistently, holding it in can train your body to not respond normally to the need to poop — leading to constipation or difficulty having a bowel movement even in private situations.

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