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7 ways to help you poo

A cute smiling brown fluffy soft toy in the shape of a poo

Some folks are so regular you could set your watch. For others, it’s hit and miss, and the timing can be very inconvenient. And for some, it’s too long between poos and a real problem.

You just gotta poo, but how often should you be doing it, how few is too few, and if you’re not going often enough, how do you get back on the throne?

Bowel movements can be affected by your age, gender, health, hormones, eating and exercise habits, and other factors.

There is no magic number of bowel movements unfortunately. A 2010 study found that 98 percent of participants pooped between three times per week and three times per day.

So, if you’re going fewer than three times a week it’s probably not a problem and certainly not harmful if you do not have troublesome symptoms.

Nevertheless, poo is the waste products of digestion, formed in the large intestine, so taking out the waste regularly is important for good health.

Constipation can be caused by dehydration, a bad diet, the side effects of medications, underlying conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, and others. If you think you may be constipated, or feel you’re not going often enough, here are some easy ways you can help cause a bowel movement. (Bonus tip: a warm beverage first thing in the morning can help get things moving, especially hot coffee, which is known to stimulate bowel movements. Too much coffee can also dehydrate, so don’t overdo it.)

A young woman with stomach pain hunched over on the toilet

Drink more water

If you are not getting enough water, dehydration can affect normal bowel movements. Drink a large glass of water, and sip water throughout your day.

Eat more high-fibre food

Some dietary fibres absorb water, bulk up your poo, and make it easier to pass. Good sources of fibre include:

  • beans and lentils
  • broccoli
  • berries and apples
  • avocados
  • popcorn (yay!)
  • whole-grain bread or cereal
  • dried fruits
  • potatoes
  • nuts.

Take a fibre supplement

If you don’t seem to be getting enough fibre in your diet, you can supplement it. There are a few different types of fibre supplement, including psyllium husk, methylcellulose, and calcium polycarvophil. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which one may be best for you. If you are supplementing fibre, because it absorbs water, you should probably up your water intake too.

Exercise

Even light exercise, such as walking, jogging, cycling or yoga, can increase blood flow in your abdomen and encourage bowel movements.

Massage

Massaging your colon through the abdominal wall can help stimulate bowel movements. You can find plenty of videos on the Internet that show you how to do this yourself.

Use a footstool

Get a small footstool in the bathroom and put your feet on it when you’re on the toilet. This will put you in a near-squatting position instead of sitting, which can help you poop without straining.

Take an over-the-counter medicine

There are different types of over-the counter medications available, such as laxatives, osmotics, stool softeners, and suppositories, and your pharmacist will be able to guide you.

When to see a doctor

If you don’t poo for more than a week, or your constipation doesn’t respond to treatment, you should see your doctor, especially if you also have dizziness, fatigue, cramping, or spasms.

More information

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Last updated: 20 May 2022