If You're Pooping This Many Times a Day, You Should See Your Doctor
Your bowel movement frequency could be cause for concern. Here's what doctors say to look out for.
As the children's book famously says, "Everybody poops"—but not everybody poops at the same frequency. The status of your bowel movements and how often they occur can tell you a lot about your digestive health. While going to the bathroom too much is concerning, going too little could be just as much of an indication that something is wrong. According to the experts, three is the magic number when it comes to how often it's normal to poop. If you are going more than three times a day or less than three times a week, you should talk with your doctor. To learn about other ways to discern if your bowel movements (or lack thereof) are cause for concern, read on. And for more bathroom behavior to be aware of, This Is What It Means If You Don't Pee Enough, According to Science.
According to Healthline, "what's considered 'normal' can actually vary from person to person—anywhere from three bowel movements a day to three a week." Any more or less than this amount could be a signal that something is off.
Physician Esteban Kosak, MD, a medical writer and advisor for Symptoms.Care, confirms that anything outside of this window is worth checking up on. "Less than three movements per week is generally considered constipation, while three or more loose stools per day is considered diarrhea," says Kosak. He points out that this may happen from time to time, but if you're consistently experiencing too frequent or too few bowel movements, that's when you should start to question your digestive health.
"Most healthy adults will experience diarrhea or constipation at some point, but a consistent change in bowel habits should always be discussed with your doctor," says Kosak. "Be on the lookout for any signs that a bowel movement is outside the personal range of normal, or those bowel movements have changed over time, and bring that up at a doctor's visit."
The frequency of your bowel movements isn't the only aspect to pay attention to—here are other red flags from your stomach you should see your doctor. And to make sure you're taking care of your private parts, check out This Is How Often You Should Really Be Changing Your Underwear.
"Stool color may also provide some indications of problems, or it may just be a reflection of what you are eating," says Leann Poston, MD, Invigor Medical contributor. For example, Poston says, "an obstruction or problem in the bile duct can cause a light-colored stool." And for more health questions you may be too afraid to ask, find out The One Body Part You Should Never Shave.
Cara Harbstreet, RD, founder of Street Smart Nutrition, says if you have persistent steatorrhea, the medical term for yellow, oily bowel movements, you should talk with your doctor. According to Mayo Clinic, this could be a result of a malabsorption disorder, such as celiac disease. And for more symptoms to be aware of, here are Subtle Signs Your Body Is Telling You Something's Seriously Wrong.
Poston says that "blood in the stool can be from many causes." She advises checking if the blood is bright red or black, if it is present throughout or just on the surface, and if there are drops of blood in the toilet. Taking note of all these aspects can help your doctor diagnose the issue at hand. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
"Diarrhea is defined as a loose or watery stool that happens three or more times in a day," says Poston. "Infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites are commonly the cause of diarrhea. Food intolerances or taking medications that contain magnesium may also cause diarrhea." Poston says diarrhea will often go away on its own, but if it lasts for more than a few days, you should see your doctor. And to be sure you're staying healthy in terms of your hygiene, check out These Are the Only 3 Body Parts You Need to Wash Every Day, Doctor Says.