Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How often should one have bowel movements?"
It seems like many people have bowel movements every day, but I only have them once every couple days. I'm a 22-year-old man, overweight but otherwise healthy. How often should a healthy person have a bowel movement?
The number of normal bowel movements in a week varies greatly between three and fourteen. Constipation occurs when a person has fewer bowel movements then they usually do, or experiences straining due to increased stool hardness. Constipation is most often caused by poor dietary choices and medications, but can also be due to electrolyte abnormalities, endocrine problems such as hypothyroidism. To prevent constipation, the most important thing to do is drink plenty of water and eat lots of high-fiber foods (vegetables, fruit, whole grains). If you have low fiber intake now you should increase it slowly (20g/day) to prevent stomach cramping. There are also many over the counter stool softeners and laxatives that can help with regular bowel movements. You should see your doctor if this is a significant change or If you are having abdominal discomfort, straining, blood streaked stool, change in stool caliber, or other alarming symptoms.
Need more info?See a doctor today
Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.