Your bowel habits are influenced by a variety of different things, some of which you may not even realize. The number of times you poop each day can vary, and everyone has different bowel habits. Normal bowel movements can range from three times a day to four times a week.
It is important to be aware of any changes in your regular bowel habits. Most people have a “rhythm” or general schedule of defecation. If you find yourself running to the bathroom more than usual, that’s something to consider.
In this article, we’ll go over the possible causes of frequent pooping and when you should call your healthcare provider.
Changes in bowel habits can be caused by a variety of things, and it’s not always clear what causes them. Reviewing any changes in behavior can help you understand the problem.
Changes in your diet can affect your pooping habits. Too much fiber can cause more bowel movements, as well as very high fat meals.
When you exercise, your colon responds to movement. Your intestinal muscles contract, helping to move stool forward.
Aerobic exercise like walking has also been found to increase healthy gut bacteria, helping to keep bowel movements regular.
If you’ve been quite sedentary and then started an exercise routine, it’s common to start seeing changes in your bowel habits.
Drinking alcohol speeds up the digestive process and increases colon contractions. This causes more frequent bowel movements. It also means that your body can’t absorb liquid either, which makes your stools softer and more watery.
Stress can cause constipation, frequent bowel movements or diarrhea.
It can also alter the physiology of the gut. There are neurons in the gut that communicate with the brain. Stress affects neurons in the gut, which is why so many people get stomach upset, diarrhea, or the urge to poo when stressed.
Stress is also linked to changes in gut bacteria, which can impact bowel habits.
Hormones affect gastrointestinal (GI) function, and monthly fluctuations can cause different gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea and frequent bowel movements.
Diarrhea is defined as loose, watery stools passed at least three times a day. It can be acute or chronic, and acute diarrhea is a common occurrence.
Acute diarrhea lasts one or two days and gets better on its own, while chronic diarrhea lasts between two and four weeks.
Diarrhea can be caused by infections, medications, food allergies or intolerances, surgery, or digestive problems, including:
Sometimes the drugs can cause frequent bowel movements and even diarrhea. These drugs include:
If you suspect your frequent pooping is the result of taking medication, call the healthcare provider who prescribed it. The dosage may need to be adjusted or a different medicine may need to be used. If the medicine is over-the-counter, ask your healthcare provider if you should continue taking it.
Diseases and Disorders Associated with Frequent Bowel Movements
Various diseases and disorders are associated with frequent bowel movements. If you’re pooping more than usual and you don’t know why, your healthcare provider may run tests to check for underlying causes.
irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms that occur together. It is a functional gastrointestinal disorder, which means that it is linked to problems with the functioning of the brain and the intestine.
Symptoms include abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, diarrhea, constipation, or a mixture of the three.
Prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome
IBS affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States.
Celiac disease is a chronic digestive and immune disease. It is triggered by the consumption of gluten and damages the small intestine, as well as other organs. It can cause diarrhea, constipation, loose stools and foul smelling stools.
In addition to an exam and your medical and family history, a health care provider can diagnose celiac disease through blood tests and a biopsy of the small intestine during an endoscopy.
How many people have celiac disease?
Celiac disease affects at least 3 million Americans.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory gastrointestinal disorder. It is a common disorder that can have a significant impact on quality of life.
Although it can affect any part of your digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus, it most commonly affects the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine.
Along with fatigue, fever, joint pain, and nausea, a symptom of Crohn’s disease is diarrhea.
How common is Crohn’s disease?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2015, 1.3% of adults in the United States (about 3 million) were diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC).
If you have been diagnosed with a condition that affects your bowel frequency or habits, follow the treatment plan your health care provider has developed with you.
Dietary management is often part of the treatment for the above conditions.
If the cause of your frequent pooping is the result of lifestyle choices and not an underlying condition, there are several things you can do to reduce symptoms, including:
- Stay hydrated.
- Avoid foods that seem to trigger stomach upset or loose stools. Sometimes bland foods can be better for a bit, like bananas, rice, toast, and applesauce.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages.
- Avoid dairy products and spicy foods.
- Stop or minimize caffeine consumption.
Stress can cause frequent bowel movements and exacerbate existing gastrointestinal upset. Learning tools for stress management can help you reduce the impact of stress on your body and mind. This can include yoga, meditation, relaxation techniques, etc.
Frequent bowel movements are not always preventable. But knowing what triggers your body can help you make choices that reduce the likelihood of excessive pooping.
Eating a healthy diet high in fiber and minimizing processed foods, as well as staying hydrated, can help regulate your bowels. Staying active with physical activity can also help regulate bowel habits.
When to See a Health Care Provider
If you’ve noticed changes in your bowel habits and you’re not sure why talk to your health care provider. It may be helpful to keep a diary of your bowel habits and diet to share with them so they have more information about what might be going on. If you find yourself in the bathroom more than otherwise or if it interferes with your daily life, see your health care provider as soon as possible.
If you’ve tried several things to help lower your bowel frequency to no avail, call your healthcare provider for an appointment.
Everyone’s pooping habits are different. It’s important to notice any changes in your bowel habits and discuss them with your healthcare provider. There are a variety of things that can make you poop more, so don’t panic if you find you’re spending a little more time in the bathroom than usual. Taking stock of any lifestyle or diet changes can help you figure out what’s going on. If you are still concerned about these changes, call your healthcare provider.
A word from VeryWell
Frequent bowel movements or changes in bowel habits can impact your life and, in some cases, affect the quality of your life. It is important to consult your health care provider if you do not know the cause of these changes. Finding out the reason behind frequent pooping can help you get the right treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the normal number of times to poop each day?
The normal may vary from individual to individual. People often have a pattern of what is good for them. Typically, this can range from three times a day to three times a week. Some people may not poop every day.
Why am I pooping so much when I don’t eat much?
Some gastrointestinal disorders cause large and frequent bowel movements even when you don’t eat much. Even without a gastrointestinal upset, what you eat has a lot to do with your bowel movements. If you are on a high fiber diet, even if you don’t eat a lot, you may have frequent bowel movements because of the fiber.
Does pooping a lot mean your metabolism is high?
Maybe, but what it really reflects is the speed of your digestive system. Metabolism and digestion are two distinct and different processes. Metabolism is the way the body uses the energy taken in by digesting food. digestion is the way the body breaks down and excretes food through the digestive tract.