Being embarrassed about your bowel movements can encourage a lack of understanding.
There is a common misconception that having regular bowel movements means you go at least once per day. Regular means daily, right? Wrong. Regular is what normal means to you. If, for as long as you can remember, your bowel movements occur every second or third day, or up to three times a day, then consider that regular. If it happens more than three times per day, or you don’t go to the toilet for more than three days, take note.
If you’re going more or less often than what is standard for you, then your body is telling you something. A sudden change in routine or regularity may be cause for concern and having a health professional rule out any problems is a good idea.
A common problem many people face is constipation. Constipation means you don’t have a bowel movement for more than three days, and when you finally do, it’s difficult to pass, dry, and is typically painful. If you’re taking specific medication, changed your routine, pregnant, dieting or travelling, you may suffer from constipation. However, bowel disease and even strokes may be associated with constipation, so see your GP to rule out any underlying cause.
There are many things you can do to regulate your bowel and reduce constipation. Firstly, eat more fibre. Food high in fibre includes beans, fruit, vegetables, and grains, whereas low-fibre food typically includes processed food, meat, cheese, and sugary food.
Drinking more liquids may also help to reduce constipation as it bulks up your stool, helping it to move through the intestines freely. Finally, don’t hold it in. When your body is telling you to use the toilet, use it. Resisting the urge can make a situation worse.
Bowel movements can be an embarrassing topic for some, but knowledge is power. Know what your version of regular is and be on the lookout for changes in your stool and regularity. If you’re concerned, consult your GP.