There are a lot of interesting phrases we use to avoid talking about poop — but it’s an important topic to discuss.
Bowel movements are essential to your health because it’s how your body gets rid of waste.
But how often should you poop each day, week, or month?
Learn what’s normal (and not) when it comes to bowel movements.
How Often Should a Healthy Person Poop?
There isn’t a set number of times you should go per day or per week. Everyone’s digestive system is different, and some people naturally go more often than others.
“There is a good deal of variety with bowel habits from person to person,” says Bryan Curtin, M.D., MHSc, director of neurogastroenterology and motility at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.
“Generally, normal can range anywhere from one bowel movement every three to four days to three bowel movements per day,” Curtin explains.
A 2010 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology found that most people fall somewhere within that range.
No matter how often you typically poop, your bathroom habits will likely follow a relatively predictable pattern, so watch for any major changes to that pattern.
Are You Pooping Too Often — Or Not Often Enough?
If your frequency falls outside this range, that may be a signal that something’s going on with your body.
Having bowel movements fewer than three times a week would be considered constipation, adds Alexander Lightstone Borsand, M.D., an Arizona-based lifestyle medicine physician.
If you feel like something is off, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor.
What Can Affect Your Bowel Habits?
While we all have our own bathroom schedules, many factors can influence how often we go:
Both acute and chronic stress can affect the parasympathetic nervous system, which may lead to “stress constipation.”
What you eat — or don’t eat — can affect how well your body moves waste.
Fiber — an indigestible carbohydrate that comes from plants — is one of the most important nutrients our bodies need.
Certain types of fiber feed the good bacteria in our guts, while other fibers can provide bulk to help with transit time.
Depending on age, dietary guidelines recommend between 22 and 28 grams of fiber per day for women and between 28 and 34 grams of fiber per day for men.
If you’re not getting enough fiber, you may be less regular.
Eating plenty of whole foods that contain fiber is the best way to stay regular, but if you don’t have access to a variety of fresh vegetables, a greens supplement can help fill in the gaps in your diet.
And if you follow a plant-based diet — or if you’re doing a short-term cleanse — you may experience more frequent bowel movements thanks to your fiber intake.
A program like The 4 Week Gut Protocol can help you identify foods that are impacting your digestive health and give you the tools to help overcome discomfort.
Our digestive processes naturally slow down as we age, affecting how often we go number two.
The large intestine absorbs excess water as it processes waste. If you’re dehydrated, it can pull too much water out, leaving you with hardened poop that’s difficult to pass.
“If you’re constipated, the first step is to make sure you’re drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day,” Curtin.
All the movement that comes with exercise can help get things moving down below — hence why the American Gastroenterological Association recommends exercise to help relieve constipation.
Even something as simple as a short walk or gentle yoga may help move things along.
Certain medical conditions can cause people to poop more or less than usual.
That includes chronic diseases like ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s disease, along with short-term illnesses like the stomach bug.
And some medications may have either constipation or diarrhea as a side effect.
The Bottom Line
Instead of focusing on the frequency of your bowel movements, pay attention to your usual poop schedule and monitor for any sudden changes or digestive issues.