How Often Should You Poop & Is It Every Day? Here's What Doctors Say (2023)

It's time to talk sh*t. No, we're not referring to gossiping about the drama on the latest episode of a Bravo reality show; we're talking about poop. Stool. Feces. Whatever you want to call it, and as awkward as it can feel to talk about it, we should be doing so a lot more, suggests Will Bulsiewicz, M.D., a Charleston, South Carolina-based gastroenterologist and the author of The Fiber Fueled Cookbook.

What the Appearance of Your Poop Can Tell You About Your Health

"Pooping is somewhat of a taboo topic, but everyone does it, and it's extremely important to our health," Bulsiewicz says. He says how often you poop is related to bowel transit time or how long what you eat stays inside you. Bulsiewicz points out that transit time is linked to gut microbiome changes, citing a 2021 study published in the journal Gut.

Poop is also linked to heart health; in fact, people who pooped fewer than three times per week had a greater risk of heart disease, heart attacks and stroke, according to a 2020 study in BMJ Open. That's why it's important to share science-backed insights to help you know what's normal—and what's not—when it comes to your stool. Read on and study up so you can separate what's healthy from what's off-track.

How Often Should You Poop & Is It Every Day? Here's What Doctors Say (1)

(Video) How Often Should You Poop? A Doctor Explains

What Does "Normal" Mean?

Normal poop, called "stool" by medical professionals, is brown, well-formed, sausage-shaped, uniform and thick. It should feel fairly easy—or not like too much of a struggle—to pass. Most people poop once or twice each day, and the most common time of day is either at waking up or after breakfast, Bulsiewicz says.

The frequency and time of day of pooping can vary with normal stool, confirms William W. Li, M.D., an internal medicine physician and scientist in Boston and the author of Eat to Beat Your Diet. Our guts are like our fingerprints—unique to the individual—so the best course of action is to become familiar with your routine and notice when you stray from it.

"The most important thing is that you don't have discomfort. If you're not having regular bowel movements or feeling fully evacuated after going to the bathroom, you may be experiencing constipation," says Kenneth Brown, M.D., a gastroenterologist in Plano, Texas, and the host of the Gut Check Project podcast.

Are you constipated? Here are the symptoms of constipation, per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases:

  • Fewer than three bowel movements per week
  • Hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass
  • Feeling like there's more stool you'd like to eliminate, but can't

While it can be short-term and relieved by the lifestyle adjustments noted below, constipation can also become a chronic challenge. In that case, it's not just uncomfortable with bloating and abdominal pain, but constipation can also be detrimental to your health, Brown says.

According to Stanford Medicine Health Care, the potential complications of chronic constipation include:

  • Hemorrhoids
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Anal fissure, or a small tear in the anus
  • Fecal impaction; in other words, a hard, dry stool that cannot be passed
  • Rectal prolapse (when the large intestine pushes out of the rectum)

"It's perfectly normal not to have a bowel movement every single day. But if more than several days have gone by without a bowel movement, especially if you have discomfort or any swelling or pain in your lower abdomen, it's important to seek medical attention to evaluate if there is an obstruction blocking normal bowel movements," Li says.

(Video) How Often Should You Poop? | Dr. Will Bulsiewicz on The Exam Room LIVE

On the flip side, pooping more than three times per day, having chronic diarrhea, urgency or waking up at night to poop are all examples of diarrhea-related issues that are worth chatting about with your doctor, Bulsiewicz says.

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Factors That Affect How Often You Poop

How often you poop is personal. You may poop more or less often than the next person due to:

Your Genetics

You may be able to (partly) blame your poop frequency on your parents. Research suggests that there are genetic factors that affect stool consistency and frequency, according to research in Cell Genomics in 2021. Genetics may also influence your gut microbiome.

Your Microbiome

Your microbiome affects many responses in your body, including your BMs. For example, an imbalance of gut bacteria, called dysbiosis, may contribute to chronic constipation, according to 2019 research in Frontiers in Medicine.

Your Age

About one-third of all American adults over 60 have symptoms of constipation, according to the NIDDK.

(Video) Why you shouldn't worry about pooping once a day | Body Stuff with Dr. Jen Gunter

Your Lifestyle

What you've eaten in the past few meals, the amount of fiber you're consuming, and your hydration levels impact how much and how often you poop, Li says.

Health Conditions

Many underlying medical conditions can affect your bowel habits, including digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), as well as other medical problems like thyroid disease.


Certain medications can cause constipation or diarrhea as a side effect. For instance, NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen), metformin (for diabetes), heartburn medication and chemotherapy drugs can all trigger diarrhea, per the National Library of Medicine.

3 Ways to Stay Regular

To hit the sweet spot of around one poop per day, or to fall into a steady stool routine that feels good for your gut, try these gastroenterologist-recommended strategies:

  • Eat a Fiber-Rich Diet: Bulsiewicz likes to compare fiber to "a canoe that floats your poop through your intestines." A well-balanced diet with fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, beans and legumes can help promote regular bowel movements. Insufficient fiber intake can lead to constipation or irregular bowel movements. Add high-fiber foods to your next supermarket list to make hitting your 28- to 34-gram-per-day fiber goal easier.
  • Stay Hydrated: In that same boat reference, Bulsiewicz says that H2O helps "float the poo canoe down the river. When you don't drink enough water, your canoe will get stuck on the rocks," he says. Since normal poop is 74% water, per an October 2021 study in Nutrients, water intake can make a big difference in the texture of your stool—and how easy it is to pass. You can tell that you're hydrating enough by looking at your urine. It should be pale yellow (similar to lemonade) or lighter. If it's darker and more like apple juice, drink up.
  • Move Your Body: Regular exercise can help stimulate the muscles in the digestive tract and promote regular bowel movements. "It helps the canoe move briskly downstream instead of lingering too long," Bulsiewicz says. (No wonder many doctors deem physical activity the top activity to help you poop.) Aim for—or work up to—150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio per week, plus two total-body resistance training sessions. Yes, walking counts as a workout!

When to See a Health Care Provider

The "red flag symptoms" related to digestion, listed below, may indicate a potentially serious underlying condition and warrant prompt medical attention to determine the underlying cause and to receive appropriate treatment, says Bulsiewicz.

  • Persistent abdominal pain: "Severe, worsening or constant abdominal pain that lasts for several hours or days may be a sign of a serious issue, such as appendicitis, a bowel obstruction or an inflamed gallbladder," Bulsiewicz says.
  • Unexplained weight loss: Dropping pounds without making any major changes to your diet or exercise routines? Bulsiewicz explains that this could be indicative of a digestive disorder, such as inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease or even cancer.
  • Difficulty swallowing: If you consistently have trouble swallowing or experience pain when swallowing, this could signal an injury or illness within your esophagus.
  • Black, tarry stools or bloody stools: This may be a sign that there's bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, which could be caused by ulcers, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids or cancer, Bulsiewicz says.
  • Repeated pencil-thin stools: If stools are regularly extremely thin, this may point to growths (including cancerous tumors) in your colon that prevent stools from shaping normally.
  • Jaundice. Yellowing of the skin and eyes can indicate liver disease or bile duct obstruction.
  • Persistent, unexplained digestive symptoms: Whether it's diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, acid reflux or heartburn, even if mild, "when there's a change and it's persistent, then it's worthwhile to figure out what's going on and make sure it's nothing too serious," Bulsiewicz says.
  • Unexplained fatigue or weakness: This could be a sign of anemia, which might be caused by gastrointestinal bleeding, celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to poop out food?

Food takes about six to eight hours to work through your stomach and small intestine, then about another one-and-a-half days to go through your large intestine for additional digestion. In total, and on average, it takes about two to five days for something you eat to make its way through your digestive system and be eliminated through your stool.

How much should you poop in a day?

Again, this varies by the individual. There's no set amount of times or overall quantity of stool that's "best" for everyone, but if you're pooping once per day to once every three days and feel like you're able to pass all of the stool that your body is ready to eliminate, you're within the "normal" range.

(Video) 5 Things Your Poop Can Tell You About Your Health | Doctor ER

How long can you go without pooping?

If you haven't pooped in a couple of days and that's normal for you, it's OK. It's still considered "normal" to poop three times a week, which means you will not go every day.

Is it normal to poop once a week?

If you have fewer than three bowel movements per week, you qualify as having constipation. Most important is that you watch for any stark changes in your stool patterns. If you're experiencing any of the symptoms listed above in "When to See a Health Care Provider," consult with your doctor.

How often should a healthy person poop?

What's "healthy" or "normal" differs depending on your genetics and lifestyle. A healthy frequency can range from three times per day in one person to three times a week in another.

The Bottom Line

There's no one "perfect" cadence for pooping, but the average healthy person poops about once or twice per day, according to gastroenterologists. If you go for more than three days without a bowel movement, you meet the criteria of having constipation. Pay attention to what's standard for your stools, and watch for any of the red flag symptoms that might be a sign of an underlying illness, gut-related or otherwise.

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How Often Should You Poop & Is It Every Day? Here's What Doctors Say? ›

There isn't really a magic number for how often you should poop. However, most people fall within the general range of three times a day to three times a week. However, many factors can influence how many times you use the bathroom per day, from your diet to your overall health.

How often should a healthy person poop a day? ›

It's normal and healthy to have a bowel movement anywhere between three times a week to three times a day. If you're producing soft, well-formed logs that aren't hard to push out, your bowels are probably in good shape.

Are you supposed to poop 5 times a day? ›

First, let's be clear: There is no rule about the number of bowel movements a person should have each day. Some people poop several times a day. Others go every few days. “Normal” is something that each person must decide for themselves.

How often should the average person poop? ›

The normal range for daily pooping is from three times a day to once every three days. Therefore, it would be fair to say that the average person poops about once a day.

How often should a grown woman poop? ›

Doctors generally consider it healthy if you poop anywhere between three times a day and three times a week. Many factors can influence how often you poop, including your diet, how much water you drink, and your stress levels, among others.

Do bowel movements change with age? ›

What Bowel Habit Changes Come with Aging? As stated at the outset, as we age things change, and this includes bowel habits. The most common thing to happen with age is that constipation is more frequent.

Is it OK if I haven't pooped in 4 days? ›

The normal length of time between bowel movements varies widely from person to person. Some people have them three times a day. Others have them just a few times a week. Going longer than 3 or more days without one, though, is usually too long.

How do you completely empty your bowels? ›

How to empty your bowels without straining
  1. Sit on the toilet properly: ...
  2. Brace – allow your stomach muscles to push forwards. ...
  3. With each urge to empty your bowels, repeat the brace.
  4. Keep your mouth slightly open and breathe out. ...
  5. As you finish, pull up your anorectal muscles (the muscles that control your bottom).

Does drinking water in the morning help you poop? ›

Drinking water will not only help you combat dehydration, but will also relieve constipation. Water circulating through your intestines keeps you regular and encourages morning bowel movements.

How long can you go without pooping? ›

Generally speaking, you can go about five days without pooping before you run into the risk of serious health issues like fecal impaction, hemorrhoids, or a bowel perforation. That said, there isn't a magic number of days to set a countdown for.

How soon after you eat should you poop? ›

Digestion time varies from person to person. Your age, sex, and any health conditions you may have also affects digestion. Generally, it takes about 2 to 5 days from eating for food to pass through your body as stool, estimates the Mayo Clinic.

Why do I have to wipe again hours after pooping? ›

Common causes include: Chronic diarrhea Constipation Hemorrhoids Crohn's disease The skin of the anus can stick to the stool and make it difficult to clean the anorectal area after a bowel movement. Leaky gut Leaky gut is also known as fecal incontinence.

Why do I poop small amounts frequently? ›

If you're having bowel movements more often, chances are you've made some change in your lifestyle. For example, you may be eating more whole grains, which increases fiber intake. More-frequent bowel movements also could be related to a mild illness that will take care of itself.

Why is there a second pee after I poop? ›

When you do pass stool however, the relaxation of the stronger anal sphincter also decreases tension in the weaker urinary sphincter, allowing urine to pass at the same time.

Is it OK to only poop once a week? ›

However, studies show having a bowel movement happens at a different frequency for everyone. If, for most of your life, you have a bowel movement every day, that's YOUR normal. Some people have a bowel movement about three times a week, while others, only once a week.

How often do seniors poop? ›

Straining is the most commonly identified symptom by older adults, even though physicians tend to rely on bowel movement frequency to diagnose constipation. Additionally, patients tend to underestimate their frequency of bowel movements. Normal stool frequency can vary between 3 motions per day and 3 motions per week.

What are the red flags for change in bowel habits? ›

Red flags to consider include the following: abdominal cramps and pain. diarrhoea. constipation.

What happens to your body at age 70? ›

What's happening. With age, bones tend to shrink in size and density, weakening them and making them more susceptible to fracture. You might even become a bit shorter. Muscles generally lose strength, endurance and flexibility — factors that can affect your coordination, stability and balance.

Should I go to the ER if I haven't pooped in a week? ›

It would be an emergency if you hadn't had a bowel movement for a prolonged time, and you're also experiencing major bloating or severe abdominal pain,” notes Dr. Zutshi. Slight symptoms will not take you to the emergency room. You should go to the emergency room if your symptoms are severe.

Should I stop eating if I haven't pooped? ›

You may think that cutting back on food will help “clear out” your colon. That's not the case. Do this: Eating, especially healthy whole foods that contain fiber, helps your body move stool. Forget to manage your stress.

Why is my poop never solid anymore? ›

Common causes include from foods – especially if something was spoiled or tainted – but GI viruses, food allergies and medication side-effects can also cause them. Some chronic conditions like Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome can also lead to ongoing diarrhea.

What empties your bowels every morning? ›

Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated is a great way to regulate digestion. People who support a water flush for colon cleansing recommend drinking six to eight glasses of lukewarm water per day. Also try eating plenty of foods high in fiber & water content.

What empties your bowels every day? ›

Apples and pears – Containing high levels of fibre, fructose and sorbitol, apples and pears are popular fruits that help you to empty your bowels. Also, apples and pears contain high levels of water content, which helps with digestion and with avoiding constipation. For best results, eat them raw.

What hot drink is good for constipation? ›

People who want fast constipation relief can also try drinking hot beverages, especially caffeinated ones like coffee or regular tea. “The temperature of the liquid can speed up digestive motility, and caffeine stimulates the bowels as well,” Slattery says.

What happens to the body when you drink water first thing in the morning? ›

Drinking water first thing in the morning flushes out the stomach and therefore balances the lymphatic system. A stable lymphatic system will help build a strong immune system, which will prevent us from getting sick as often.

Is it better to drink warm or cold water in the morning? ›

One of the best times to drink warm water is when you get up in the morning. This helps to kick-start your metabolism, so it functions at optimal levels throughout the day. It's also a good idea to drink warm liquids with your meals as this helps to keep everything fluid and protects your internal organs.

What should I do if I haven't pooped in 7 days? ›

A person should talk with their doctor if they go more than a week without pooping, if the constipation lasts for more than 3 consecutive months, or if it does not respond to at-home treatment. Children and pregnant women should receive medical care if they experience bowel symptoms for more than a few weeks.

What are the homemade laxatives that work right away? ›

Try natural laxatives that work fast for constipation relief, which include: aloe vera, leafy greens, chia and flax seeds, high fiber fruits, probiotic foods, and coconut water. Also make sure to drink plenty of water/fluids when consuming natural laxatives, since these work with high fiber foods to help soften stool.

What are the symptoms of a blocked bowel? ›

Symptoms of intestinal obstruction are:
  • Severe pain in your belly.
  • Severe cramping sensations in your belly.
  • Throwing up.
  • Feelings of fullness or swelling in your belly.
  • Loud sounds from your belly.
  • Feeling gassy, but being unable to pass gas.
  • Constipation (being unable to pass stool)

What food takes the longest to digest? ›

The foods with the longest time to digest are bacon, beef, lamb, whole milk hard cheese, and nuts. These foods take an average of about 4 hours for your body to digest. The digestion process still occurs even when asleep. Which means our digestive fluids and the acids in our stomach are active.

What is dumping syndrome? ›

Dumping syndrome is a group of symptoms, such as diarrhea, nausea, and feeling light-headed or tired after a meal, that are caused by rapid gastric emptying. Rapid gastric emptying is a condition in which food moves too quickly from your stomach to your duodenum.

What causes rapid bowel movement after eating? ›

Passing stool immediately after a meal is usually the result of the gastrocolic reflex, which is a normal bodily reaction to food entering the stomach. Almost everyone will experience the effects of the gastrocolic reflex from time to time.

What stools leave marks in toilet? ›

Skiddy stools

These poos leave skid marks down your toilet. This is because they have too much sticky mucous in them. This may mean you need more fibre in your diet. Stools that leave skid marks are quite common.

Why does my bowel leak after wiping? ›

Bowel incontinence is a symptom of an underlying problem or medical condition. Many cases are caused by diarrhoea, constipation, or weakening of the muscle that controls the opening of the anus. It can also be caused by long-term conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and dementia.

What does poop look like with diverticulitis? ›

Narrow or pellet-like stools: if you have advanced or severe diverticulitis, your large intestine may narrow, causing stool to become thin, narrow, or pellet-shaped.

What does stress poop look like? ›

“Stress and anxiety increase hormones, such as cortisol, adrenaline, and serotonin,” Eid says. The gut responds to these hormones by producing physical symptoms, like watery stools, nausea, or constipation.

Why am I pooping a lot but not diarrhea? ›

Many people associate frequent bowel movements with diarrhea, which involves loose or watery stools. However, a wide variety of factors could cause frequent solid bowel movements. These factors include a person's diet, food allergies, and underlying health conditions.

Is it normal to poop small amounts several times a day? ›

First, let's be clear: There is no rule about the number of bowel movements a person should have each day. Some people poop several times a day. Others go every few days. “Normal” is something that each person must decide for themselves.

What does anxiety poop look like? ›

Many people report experiencing more yellow stools as a symptom of anxiety. Anxiety does not specifically affect the color of stool, but it can affect how food moves through the digestive tract. There are several ways that anxiety affects digestion, increasing the risk of yellow feces.

Why do I fart more after pooping? ›

That's because the poop is mainly made up of bacteria, so you have more of it just sitting around in your system, fermenting and releasing fumes out into the world. If you're constipated, make sure to drink a ton of water, exercise, and include good sources of fiber in your diet, says Gross.

Why do I have to pee 5 minutes after I poop? ›

The physical pressure of the stool also constricts the urethra. This is the tube that lets urine move out of the body. As a result, it becomes difficult for the body to hold urine, leading to urinary urgency and incontinence.

What simple trick empties your bowels? ›

How to empty your bowels without straining
  • Sit on the toilet properly: ...
  • Brace – allow your stomach muscles to push forwards. ...
  • With each urge to empty your bowels, repeat the brace.
  • Keep your mouth slightly open and breathe out. ...
  • As you finish, pull up your anorectal muscles (the muscles that control your bottom).

How do you get rid of old poop in your colon naturally? ›

  1. Detox by drinking more water. The easiest way to detoxify your colon is to drink more water. ...
  2. Detox by dieting. Diuretic foods and herbs can help the body expel waste and speed up detoxification. ...
  3. Detoxify through exercise. ...
  4. Change your pooping posture. ...
  5. Take probiotics to improve gut health. ...
  6. Look into a colon cleanse.
Aug 4, 2022

Do eggs help empty your bowels? ›

According to Dr. Lee, “For someone dealing with predominant diarrhea (the fast transit type where they have loose frequent bowel movements), eggs can be a friend and help bind up the bowel movements.”

Why does my poop come out in small soft pieces? ›

Mushy stool with fluffy pieces that have a pudding-shaped consistency is an early stage of diarrhea. This form of stool has passed through the colon quickly due to stress or a dramatic change in diet or activity level. When mushy stool occurs, it's hard to control the urge or timing of the bowel movement.

How long can a person go without having a bowel movement? ›

Generally speaking, you can go about five days without pooping before you run into the risk of serious health issues like fecal impaction, hemorrhoids, or a bowel perforation.

Why do I keep passing gas but not pooping? ›

Why do people have so much gas but cannot poop? Factors such as not drinking enough fluids or not eating enough fiber can cause constipation and make the stool hard to pass. A person can speak with their doctor to assess why they have constipation and gas.

Is it normal to poop 4 times a day? ›

There is no “normal” number of bowel movements. Many healthcare providers agree that healthy bowel movement frequency can range from three times a day to three times a week.

How long can you go without having a bowel movement? ›

Generally speaking, you can go about five days without pooping before you run into the risk of serious health issues like fecal impaction, hemorrhoids, or a bowel perforation.

Does drinking a lot of water make you poop watery? ›

The symptoms of overhydration can look like those of dehydration. When you have too much water in the body, the kidneys can't remove the excess liquid. It starts collecting in the body, leading to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

What happens to your body when you don't poop? ›

There are a few complications that could happen if you don't have soft, regular bowel movements. Some complications include: Swollen, inflamed veins in your rectum (a condition called hemorrhoids). Tears in the lining of your anus from hardened stool trying to pass through (called anal fissures).

Why am I eating so much but not pooping? ›

Things that contribute to constipation can include stress, diet, and lack of physical activity. A person may also find they don't poop as often as they age because their intestines tend to move more slowly. There are many treatments available to help relieve constipation and promote regular bowel movements.

What are 3 signs of constipation? ›

Symptoms of constipation
  • stomach ache and cramps.
  • feeling bloated.
  • feeling sick.
  • loss of appetite.
Feb 23, 2023

How long does it take for miralax to work? ›

It usually takes about 30-60 minutes after drinking the Miralax solution to begin having bowel movements. You may notice some bloating or cramping at the beginning of the preparation, but this will usually improve once the bowel movements begin.


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