Created for Greatist by the experts at Healthline. Read more
Do the bathroom scenes in White Chicks and Bridesmaids make you feel personally victimized? Do you have a very intimate relationship with toilet paper? Do you ever think you’ll meet your demise on the toilet (with or without a T-Rex)?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you probably poop a lot. But how much is too much? Is it normal? Let’s find out.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, there actually isn’t a golden rule for poops per day. Normal dumping frequency can be between three times per day to three times per week.
It’s all about your personal pooping pattern (or PPP as we like to call it). Chances are you probably know your PPP pretty well. Some of us might take a post-coffee poop (PCP) after a strong cup in the a.m. and be clear for the day.
Others might drop some bombs after each meal or have a single afternoon/evening cleansing poop to prep for a new day (aka every dad in the history of existence).
If you’re a person pretending you don’t poop (looking at you ladies), do yourself a favor and own up — we all do it. And the good news? Studies have shown women poop less than men, so if you’re a woman, you’ve likely got less toilet time on the horizon than your male friends.
According to a 2016 study, how “regular” you are really depends on your diet, exercise, and lifestyle, as well as the microbes present in your gut.
If you’re in sync with your PPP and notice you’ve been getting in a few extra dookies, something is probably going on with your bowels.
The Mayo Clinic outlines red-flag poop as “narrow, ribbon-like stools” or “loose, watery stools.” Additionally, frequent No. 2 associated with abdominal pain, blood, mucus, or pus in your poop are signs that it’s time to call your doctor.
So, you’ve determined your bathroom trips are increasing, but what exactly is causing your excessive pooping? Hold onto your butts, we have quite a few answers.
You are what you eat, and what you eat turns into poo. Eating spicy Thai food or a giant raw salad can lead to a few extra trips to the bathroom.
Eating a vegetarian diet is also associated with more pooping, and that’s just science. Plant foods contain a lot of fiber, which makes you go.
It’s even more frequent for vegans. A nutrition and bowel movement study saw a higher pooping frequency among its 30 percent plant based participants.
Spicy food can also irritate your gut, making you go more frequently (especially hot lava style). And, it goes without saying, eating spoiled food can make you sick, leading you to use the restroom way more than usual.
More visits to the porcelain palace are often connected to illness. This could be bacterial, viral, parasitic, or even complications from bodily functions or organs that are making you sick.
Some illnesses associated with frequent pooping include C. difficile (which can be really bad if you don’t see a doctor), worms or protozoa, diverticulitis, pancreatitis, gallbladder issues, H. Pylori, or intestinal problems.
There’s a reason seasoned runners say “never trust a fart.” Exercises like running can get things moving. Researchers chalk up gym-goers pooping more to the contracting and stretching of the digestive tract paired with secretions and decreased blood flow.
Additionally, what you eat with exercise can mess with your colon. A 2015 study found that triathletes who consumed caffeine, energy, or carbs pre-race were more likely to have increased GI stress when exercising. Competitors who drank caffeine in the morning had even more GI tract distress when they started to run.
Does drinking your grande cold brew make you bolt for the bathroom? Coffee makes you go more for a few reasons, but caffeine is a big one.
A study from the University of Iowa College of Medicine reported participants who drank caffeinated coffee recorded 60 percent stronger colon activity compared to drinking water and 23 percent more than decaf.
Stress can mess up a lot going on in the body including hormones, weight, and your immune system. No surprise it can also affect your bowel movements.
Stress can make you poop more because it can throw your digestive system out of whack, which leads to more poops with a side of diarrhea.
That time of the month can also really eff up a bathroom schedule. A 2014 study of 156 women found that 73 percent of women experienced GI distress during or pre-period and 28 percent reported diarrhea.
When Aunt Flo comes to visit, the body releases hormone-like substances called prostaglandins that help the uterus contract (hello cramps!). Those pesky prostaglandins can also make your bowel muscles contract more, leading to more trips to the loo.
7. Lactose intolerance
Eating what disagrees with your body can also make you visit the toilet more frequently. If you’re lactose intolerant, eating dairy can cause some pretty explosive dookies, or if you’re lucky, just increase your number of trips to the bathroom.
This is because a lactose intolerant person can’t digest lactose, a sugar in milk and milk products like cheese and yogurt.
Lactose intolerance can run in your family and is even more common in people of Asian, African, Mexican American, and Native American heritage.
8. Celiac disease and gluten
People find a lot of reasons to hate on gluten these days, but if you’re pooping a lot, gluten might be the culprit. Someone who has non-celiac gluten sensitivity can’t process gluten properly, potentially causing GI irritation that leads to gas and frequent No. 2s.
Celiac disease is a lot more serious than a gluten sensitivity. The disease is actually an autoimmune disease where eating gluten causes an immune response that attacks the small intestine. This can lead to really serious issues in the long run.
The Celiac Disease Foundation estimates 1 in 100 people around the world have the disease. Take note of what you’re eating, and if you connect gluten-y foods with your BMs, make an appointment with your doctor.
If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) you’re prone to abdominal pain and bowel movement changes like diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of the two. So, if you have IBS and a frequent pooping schedule, the two could definitely be connected.
The bad news is that doctors still don’t know what causes IBS and will most likely advise you to change your eating habits or put you on medication. Some find their IBS flare-ups are related to food allergies and stress.
10. Crohn’s disease
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that leads to inflammation of the digestive tract. It can even spread to layers of bowel tissue causing more pain and problems.
Crohn’s can cause a bunch of uncomfortable symptoms, including abdominal pain and diarrhea. Bloody stools are also an indication of Crohn’s disease and a sign to call your doctor ASAP (Crohn’s can lead to life-threatening problems).
Like IBS, there isn’t a cure for Crohn’s disease, yet. If you suspect this is the reason you might be pooping a lot, schedule a doctor’s appointment.
Medications can also affect your bowels and rev up your colon. Beyond the obvious laxatives or stool softeners (duh), there are a few medications to look out for:
- NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen
- metformin (diabetes medication)
- heartburn and stomach ulcer medications (uncommon, but possible)
- immune system suppressing drugs like mycophenolate
- chemotherapy drugs
Any new-to-you medication can also affect your body’s bathroom groove. If things don’t go back to normal and you have alarming symptoms like fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or bloody stools, call your doctor ASAP.
Most of us have probably experienced the beer sh*ts after a booze fest. Also known as day-after-drinking stool (affectionately called DADS for short), the bathroom trips after drinking 12 White Claws can be a nightmare.
Lower alcohol content beverages like wine and beer especially accelerate your GI tract to empty out. And bending the elbow really ups your ethanol consumption, which is the chemical compound in alcohol responsible for accelerating GI movement when consumed in large amounts.
There’s a reason traveling pros carry a stash of Imodium. Traveling to another country can actually make you need to poop more and lead to traveler’s diarrhea.
Traveler’s diarrhea is usually caused by eating contaminated food or water while abroad. Additionally, small factors like different climate or sanitation can upset your bowels.
A 2017 study of 628 international travelers from the Boston area found that 33 percent experienced traveler’s diarrhea.
Once you identify some potential reasons for your frequent defecating, get the plumbing back to normal with a few different approaches:
- Change up your diet and try eating less fiber-rich or irritating/spicy foods.
- Limit your coffee consumption (we promise you can survive on one cup a day).
- Be careful about what you eat right before a workout.
- Take some food-related precautions when traveling abroad:
- Check the safety of tap water before using it to drink, brush your teeth, or even rinse with.
- Don’t eat raw fruits or veggies without rinsing in clean bottled water.
- Play it safe and only eat fruits and veggies that are cooked or have a peel you can tear off yourself.
- Cut back on your drinking.
- If you’re stressed or anxious, consider meditating or visiting a therapist.
- Look into what medications you’re taking.
- Schedule a wellness check with your doctor to discuss potential illnesses, diseases, or food sensitivities that could be the culprit.
Again, if you’re experiencing weird colored, odd shaped, bloody, or watery poop, make sure you give your doctor a call. Something more sinister could be happening in your colon.
Give your bowels a clean bill of health by getting on a poop schedule worthy of a yogurt commercial.
Here are some basic steps to keep your bathroom breaks in check:
- Drink enough water (simple, but effective!).
- Eat a whole food diet with plenty of fruits, veggies, nuts, and grains.
- Stop eating foods that you have intolerances or sensitivities to — even one little cheat meal can wreak havoc down below.
- Get plenty of exercise.
- Don’t hold in your poops!
- Realign your pooping angle (this is the perfect time to bring out the Squatty Potty you got as a gag gift!).