How often should you poop?

Poop is not a favorite topic and it’s often seen as shameful to talk about. But we need to talk about it! We especially need to talk about it with our doctors when things aren’t moving along as they should be. So this article will be the scoop on poop, everything you need to know about when you go. We will cover answers like:How often should you poop

  • How often should you poop?
  • How can you poop more regularly?
  • What can happen if you don’t poop often enough?
  • What happens if you have to poop but hold it in?

How often should you poop

Everyone’s digestive system is different, and what may be normal for one person may not be normal for another. So don’t base your frequency off of other people, your body is unique and so are your bathroom habits. Some people may have bowel movements several times a day, while others may only have them a few times a week. 

Since the frequency of bowel movements can vary from person to person how often should you poop? Normal pooping frequency can be anything from 3 times a day to 3 times a week. Any less than 3 times a week should be brought up to your doctor to make sure everything is moving how it should. 

What does matter is that there is no discomfort with your frequency. You should not be experiencing stomach cramping or pain between bowel movements. If you do, you are not having bowel movements often enough. And you shouldn’t experience pain, discomfort, or difficulty when you go to the bathroom. Even if you are able to go to the bathroom, difficulty getting it out is still a form of constipation. 

Full evacuation is a term we use to describe getting all of your poop out when you do finally sit down to go. If you feel like you still have to go even though you were just in the bathroom, you aren’t fully evacuating and that is something that should be brought up to your doctor. This is another sign that your bathroom habits aren’t quite where they should be and that you aren’t going the frequency that you should. 

To recap how to know if you’re pooping often enough/how often should you poop:

  • Healthy bowel movements can happen 3 times a day to 3 times a week. Any less may be a cause for concern. 
  • Stomach pain, cramping, or discomfort is a sign that you aren’t pooping on as regular of a schedule as you should.
  • Fully evacuating (getting all of the poop out when you go) is a good determination of if you are pooping in a healthy way (frequency/consistency)

What happens if you don’t poop as often as you should?

If you’re not having regular bowel movements or feeling fully evacuated after going to the bathroom, you may be experiencing constipation. 

Constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week, or having hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass. It can also be accompanied by other symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and feeling like you can’t completely empty your bowels.

The following list is what happens if you don’t poop as often as you should:  

  • Abdominal pain or cramping,  
  • Bloating or a feeling overly full 
  • Swollen hemorrhoids 
  • Anal fissure (a small tear in the anus)  
  • Fecal impaction (a hard dry stool that cannot be passed) 
  • Overflow diarrhea (liquid stools leak around hard dry stool) 
  • If constipation becomes too severe it can lead to an emergency known as bowel obstruction.

What happens if you don’t poop when you need to?

Some people have social anxiety when it comes to using public restrooms. If you fall into this category and you hold in your poop when you need to go, here are some things you need to understand so that you aren’t causing yourself problems in the future.

Holding in your poop can lead to:

  • Constipation
  • Dry and hard to pass poop when you do finally try to go (because when you stop it from happening it stays in the colon and loses the water content that makes it easier to pass)
  • Loss of the sensation that notifies you that you need to go which can lead to… 
  • Fecal incontinence

So when you have to go, even in public places, you should go. 

Remember, everyone poops! 

(And going when you have to now, prevents more embarrassing moments in the future related to fecal incontinence)

How can you poop more regularly?

So how can we make sure that we are pooping often enough? Because none of us want to deal with any of the problems that were listed above!

There are several things you can do to help keep your bowel movements regular and prevent constipation:

  • Eat a high-fiber diet: Foods high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, can help keep your stools soft and promote regular bowel movements.
  • Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated can help prevent constipation by keeping stools soft and moist.
  • Exercise regularly: Physical activity can help stimulate the muscles in your intestines and promote regular bowel movements.
  • Don’t ignore the urge to go: When you feel the need to have a bowel movement, try to go as soon as possible. If you delay or ignore the urge, your stools can become harder and more difficult to pass.
  • Don’t strain: Straining during bowel movements can lead to hemorrhoids and fissures. 
  • Leave your phone out of the restroom: Many people can become distracted searching social media, and this can lead to extended time on the toilet.
  • Change your angle of defecation: use a Squatty Potty or stool to get your knees above your hips and lean just slightly forward. This is a more natural position to defecate and helps the stool evacuate
  • Ensure you have a healthy microbiome: using products like prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes can help you to extract nutrients from your food better and have a healthier digestive tract

If you still have constipation after trying the above, then there are many over-the-counter medications and supplements that can help you go better which you should discuss with your doctor.