Why Do I Poop So Much?

Ever wonder how much you should poop? It is perfectly normal to poop regularly, and it is generally a sign of good health. However, sometimes we experience changes to our bowel habits and may be going to the bathroom more regularly or even not at all. This shift can sometimes make us worry! 

It's normal for pooping habits to vary from one person to the next, and there isn't necessarily a set number of times we should use the bathroom daily.

Pooping more or less than usual can be caused by many factors, and is not normally a cause for concern unless you have other symptoms.

In this article, we will explore the potential reasons for changes in stool habits and how to monitor them. 

Potential causes of excessive pooping include: 

1) Diet 

An increase in dietary fibre can increase stool frequency, which is usually good! Soluble fibre is particularly beneficial in helping us empty our bowels due to its ability to bind to water, which helps it move through easily.6  

Both soluble and insoluble fibre can also increase the weight and softness of your stool, speeding up its movement through your digestive tract and allowing you to have regular, well-formed stools.

Sources of fibre include fruits, vegetables, legumes, pulses, oats, and whole grains.6 

2) Exercise

Exercise is very beneficial! Exercising more can increase blood flow to the bowel and help food waste move more quickly through our bodies.  

Research shows that doing a variety of exercises can help keep our guts healthy, as well as build bacterial diversity.8  So mix it up and build those microbes! 

3) Stress

Stress can increase our bowel frequency and cause IBS-like symptoms. Equally, stress can affect our eating habits, which can cause changes in our bowel habits, such as eating too little or too much.7 

Stress management tools are key to good gut health. Practices like meditation, walks outdoors and hot baths can all improve our stress management abilities. 

4) Menstruation or pregnancy

During hormonal changes, our bowel habits can change, and many women experience bloating, constipation, or stomach cramps. For example, cyclical changes in bowel activity can result from changes in hormones, specifically progesterone and prostaglandins.3 

Period-related bowel movement changes tend to be recurrent constipation, usually during the tail end of your luteal phase, and/or diarrhoea once menstruation begins.3

Other common symptoms include stomach pain, cramping, bloating, nausea, and diarrhoea.3  Bowel habits should return to normal once menstruation ends. 

5) Medication

Certain medications can increase bowel urgency and the need to poop more frequently, including laxatives, antibiotics, anti-depressants, antacids, proton pump inhibitors (i.e. omeprazole), and medicines to treat cancer (such as chemotherapy).

These are side effects that we normally cannot do much about; however, our bodies tend to adapt, and symptoms should reduce over time.7 

6) Food intolerance

Food intolerances can irritate the bowel, which can cause an increase in bowel frequency. For example, those with a dairy allergy may experience IBS-like symptoms such as bloating after consumption. 

Equally, gluten may slow down digestion in some people and cause constipation and bloating.4 

The best way to avoid intolerances is to monitor any symptoms after eating certain foods. You could also keep a food diary and limit your consumption of symptomatic foods. 

7) IBS 

IBS is a disease that can cause an increase or, in some cases, a decrease in stool frequency due to inflammation in the colon. If you have IBS with diarrhoea, you will have frequent, loose, watery stools. You may fell urgency to have a bowel movement, which may be hard to control. If you have IBS with constipation, you will experience difficulties passing stool, as well as fewer bowel movements.1

During an IBD flare, the intestine's lining becomes inflamed and cannot absorb all fluid. This results in loose, watery, or even entirely liquid stools. The looser stool can also move more rapidly through the colon, causing more frequent bowel movements.1 

8) Bowel diseases, such as Crohn's

Bowel disease can increase stool frequency. Many people with Crohn's or colitis frequently experience an urgency to have a bowel movement, which can be exacerbated by stress.  People with colitis may also have an extremely urgent need to empty their bowels, and yet when they try to do so, they find out that they only have a small amount to pass. 1 Symptoms can be incredibly frustrating and are normally persistent. Dietary and lifestyle modifications can help treat bowel disease and reduce urgency.1  

9) Illness or infection 

Illness can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, and lack of appetite. Norovirus is one of the most common stomach viruses that can cause colon inflammation. Other factors include salmonella infection (or other infections that may occur from bacteria) or parasitic infections such as rotavirus.5 Following infection, the bowel normally returns to normal once the illness is over.  

When to see a doctor

If you have persistent gastrointestinal symptoms and do not have a diagnosed condition, you should see your GP or health professional sooner rather than later. Symptoms such as cramping, constipation, stomach pain, and diarrhoea may signify a more serious health concern and should be investigated. 

Take Home Message 

It's normal for pooping habits to vary from person to person, and pooping more than usual can be caused by many factors, such as dietary habits and physical activity levels. 

It's not usually a cause for concern unless your bowel issues are persistent, you have other symptoms, or they significantly affect your day-to-day life.

We should all strive to look after our gut health and keep an eye on our bowel habits to learn what is normal for our bodies so we can monitor any new changes.


If you enjoyed this article, check out:

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References → 1

1: Lewis, J. D., Rutgeerts, P., Feagan, B. G., D'haens, G., Danese, S., Colombel, J. F., Reinisch, W., Rubin, D. T., Selinger, C., Bewtra, M., Barcomb, L., Lacerda, A. P., Wallace, K., Butler, J. W., Wu, M., Zhou, Q., Liao, X., & Sandborn, W. J. (2020). Correlation of Stool Frequency and Abdominal Pain Measures With Simple Endoscopic Score for Crohn's Disease. Inflammatory bowel diseases, 26(2), 304–313. https://doi.org/10.1093/ibd/izz241

2: Sattar SBA, Singh S. Bacterial Gastroenteritis. [Updated 2023 Aug 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513295

3: Lahat, A., Falach-Malik, A., Haj, O., Shatz, Z., & Ben-Horin, S. (2020). Change in bowel habits during menstruation: are IBD patients different?. Therapeutic advances in gastroenterology, 13, 1756284820929806. https://doi.org/10.1177/1756284820929806

4: Choung, R. S., & Talley, N. J. (2006). Food Allergy and Intolerance in IBS. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 2(10), 756–760.

5: Graves N. S. (2013). Acute gastroenteritis. Primary care, 40(3), 727–741. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pop.2013.05.006

6: Yang, J., Wang, H. P., Zhou, L., & Xu, C. F. (2012). Effect of dietary fiber on constipation: a meta analysis. World journal of gastroenterology, 18(48), 7378–7383. https://doi.org/10.3748/wjg.v18.i48.7378

7: Semrad C. E. (2012). Approach to the Patient with Diarrhea and Malabsorption. Goldman's Cecil Medicine, 895–913. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-1-4377-1604-7.00142-1

8: Sanjoaquin, M., Appleby, P., Spencer, E., & Key, T. (2004). Nutrition and lifestyle in relation to bowel movement frequency: A cross-sectional study of 20 630 men and women in EPIC–Oxford. Public Health Nutrition, 7(1), 77-83. doi:10.1079/PHN2003522

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