1. There’s No Rule That Says You Have to Go Once a Day
On average, people go once or twice a day. But many people go way more. And not pooping for a day, two, or even three can also be fine. In short, if you feel OK—no upset stomach, no trouble making it to the bathroom on time—then you probably don’t need to worry.
The rule with pooping is there’s no such thing as normal—just normal from one person’s perspective. So what if you’re a once-a-day pooper who’s suddenly going three or four times a day? it could be as simple as your diet or as complex as an infectious diarrhea disease. It could even be a good change; maybe you’ve started eating more fiber, for example. The important thing is to go to your doctor if your new pooping schedule gives you a constant upset stomach or your frequent bathroom trips start to make social situations, umm, awkward.
2. Being Regular’s a Good Thing
If you can set your watch to your bowel movements, it means that you have a healthy digestive system. But don’t worry if you aren’t quite so regular. You can poop at any point in the day, but experts have noticed that it’s common to visit the porcelain throne first thing in the morning. Most people eat the heaviest meal in the evening. So when you wake up, there’s been hours and hours for food to digest and position itself in your bowel, also when you’re lying flat, your bowels close off so you won’t feel enough pressure to wake up to poop. But when you stand up, your bowels open and everything shifts downward.
The second most common time to poop has nothing to do with biology and everything to do with human nature: Lots of people head to the bathroom when they get home from work. It’s simply because there’s time to relax and have a bowel movement
3. Running to the Bathroom After Meals Doesn’t Always Signal Trouble
If dinner seems like it goes right through you, it’s not because you have a super-efficient digestive system. Instead, it’s more like your digestive tract never grew up. Pooping right after you eat is a reflex babies have. For some people, that reflex never goes away.
Though it might not be ideal, having to be near a bathroom after meals is perfectly normal and isn’t anything to worry about. The stool you pass after dinner isn’t from the food you just put in your mouth (even if eating is what triggered the “got to go” reflex), so your body has had plenty of time to soak up the nutrients. The only problem, is if your poop is runny, floats, and smells terrible—that likely means that you’re not absorbing fats well. In that case, you should make an appointment with a gastroenterologist.
4. Periods and More Poop Go Hand-in-Hand
Add this to the list of unfair things: Getting your period often means cramps, bloating, and…more time on the toilet. it has to do with hormones. A lot of women say they have looser stool on their periods. Scientists believe it’s because the hormones you release during your cycle, called prostaglandins, trigger your uterus to contract and can sometimes get into your bowels and cause them to contract as well. And contracting bowels means more bowel movements.
5. Your Technique Matters
If you feel like pushing stool out takes eons, it could be because you’re not sitting right. Science has proven that the most effective position for going No. 2 isn’t at the 90-degree angle created by sitting on a typical toilet, but more of a 45-degree angle that you get when you squat over the ground. It harkens back to the time of our ancestors, when toilets didn’t exist and everyone had to squat to go to the bathroom. Squatting changes the position of your rectum so it’s at an angle that lets poop slip out with minimal effort. Unfortunately, it’s not an easy position to master on modern toilets.
7. Take All the Time You Need
Do you read the whole newspaper—or get through several levels of Candy Crush—on the toilet? There’s nothing wrong with taking your sweet time or with pooping super-fast. If it takes you five minutes, great, but if it takes 20, that’s OK, too. Most times you don’t even have to think about it. The colon knows when it is empty and done.
That said, if pooping seems to take forever because you’re really straining—or because you need to manipulate your bowels to help yourself poop by sitting a certain way or even sticking a finger in your anus—you ought to see a gastroenterologist. Some people who have a lot of difficulty may have some anatomical abnormalities that could be impinging on the rectum.