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Primary Care

Should You Poop Every Day?

Home bathroom with toilet, shelves, towels and orange walls

Oct. 5 2023

Let's face it. Pooping is a fact of life that many are uncomfortable discussing. If you wonder if your bowel habits are normal, we're here to help. Colorectal surgeon Elizabeth E. Price, DO, gives us the scoop on this delicate matter. 

How often should you have a bowel movement?
Everyone has different bowel functions. It may be normal not to have a bowel movement every day. Most people generally have a bowel movement every 1 to 3 days. Constipation is defined by infrequent bowel movements usually associated with excessive straining, hard or lumpy stools, feelings of incomplete evacuation of stool, or needing to use manual maneuvers to help have a bowel movement. 

What should your poop look like?
Normal stools can have a variety of forms and can be affected by diet. In general, they should be formed, soft, bulky and able to come out without excessive straining. Normal stool is between Type 3 and Type 5 on the Bristol stool scale. 
Image of seven types of stool on the Bristol stool scale
What should you do if you’re constipated?
If you are experiencing symptoms of constipation, you should speak to your doctor. Most people experience constipation because they do not drink enough water or have enough fiber in their diet. You should have at least 64 fl oz of non-caffeinated nonalcoholic fluid daily and 30g of fiber daily.

Is it okay to take laxatives or use enemas for constipation?
It is okay short term, but if you experience constipation often, you talk with your physician to determine why.

Why do people often get constipated when they travel?

Most people get constipated because of a diet changes and usually not drinking enough water when traveling. 

When should you see a doctor about your bowel movements?
If you are experiencing prolonged constipation, diarrhea, changes in the caliber of your stools, blood in your stools, or unplanned weight loss, you should seek medical attention.

What else  should people to know about healthy bowel habits?
A healthy diet, high in fiber, and good fluid intake are crucial to achieving healthy bowel habits. You should not sit on the toilet for a prolonged period (longer than 3 minutes) or strain to have bowel movements. 

Head shot of Dr. Elizabeth Price
 Elizabeth E. Price, DO, Lexington Surgery
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Disclaimer: This blog is intended for general understanding and education about Lexington Medical Center. Nothing on the blog should be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Blog visitors with personal health or medical questions should consult their health care provider.