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How Often Should You Have a Bowel Movement?

How Often Should You Have a Bowel Movement?

A: How often are you supposed to have a bowel movement? I’ve heard a little as once a week to three times a day can be normal.

Q: You would not believe how common this question is in medical practice. People really worry about this. The average person will have a bowel movement every 1-2 days; however, if this is not you, it’s not necessarily a cause for alarm.

As long as there has not been a change in the consistency or nature of your bowel habits and as long as you are not having to strain in order to defecate (a sign that you are constipated) then don’t worry too much about keeping up the Joneses.

Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting

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Dr. Brent

As an undergraduate, Dr. Brent Ridge majored in public health and environmental science, studying the way the state of the natural environment impacts our health choices. As a physician, he specializes in the field of aging. Send your health questions to Dr. Brent at


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11:12PM PDT on Sep 3, 2011

I have a bowel movement about 1-2 times a week. I recently upped my water intake, because I was always so constipated. I used to drink about 15oz of water a day, and now I drink about 70oz. However, I've noticed that when I increased my water intake, I didn't have a bowel movement for almost 2 weeks. I've been eating healthier AND drinking more water, but nothing. I drank 20oz of water today and have had 6 bowel movements. I have no idea what is going on

12:23PM PDT on Apr 3, 2011

My stomach and digestion has always acted up, but I've found that lots of water helps. Alot of bathroom problems happen because you digestive track isn't hydrated well enough so drinking alot of water will help constipation almost always, so try water before pills and meds. Yogurt is also great t keep up regularity especially all-natural and greek yogurts

9:14PM PDT on Oct 9, 2010

I appreciate the courage of those who wrote a comment. Most people consider this topic off limits. That may be the very reason so many of us have unrelenting problems in this area. Thanks.

11:14AM PDT on Jun 12, 2010

I usually have 3 bowel movements a day. one in the earlier afternoon, one in the evening, and one in the early morning. I don't mind it that way either

6:58AM PST on Feb 10, 2010

I have one about every 2 weeks, and they say nothing is wrong, take Philips to go.. Bummer man

2:58PM PST on Jan 31, 2010

Very happy to say once a day generally and occasionally twice a day, I am so grateful for this regularity, long may it continue

4:26AM PST on Jan 24, 2010

I have one every morning. I feel that I completely empty out...I am a dairy and fish eating vegi. But I eat bread and sugar in my tea. I think when I eat too much bread and sugar mine do have an odar. But mostly not so bad. You are what you eat!!! Eat right and feel great! Eat bad and feel bad. I have tons of engergy and I always try to get 8 hours sleep which I think is also important. Drinking quality water and staying away from drugs and alcohol. Also, eat organic!! I use free range eggs and I think using dairy from free range cows and goats is also important because I believe energy passes through food. If the animal is happy the products are happy. If the animal is suffering I think that energy passes through to the food. I have not taken a pill or used a drug for over 20 years. If I have pain of any kind, I breath and stretch and relax. I realize that would not work for bone breaks but every day stuff like muscle aches. I can not remember the last time I had a headache. Stay away from the meds...Sharon you are great!

3:20PM PST on Jan 3, 2010

okay i need help, my poops are weird sometimes and i need to know which foods to eat and what not to eat because when i go to the restroom my stomach hurts really bad, and then my poop comes out and sometimes its burns, but im really only wanting a normal poop,can anyone help me?

7:15AM PDT on Oct 15, 2009

I always feel really good after taking a healthy dump , for me it is once a day upon getting up in the AM .
For me routine , and NOT overeating is the rule of thumb .
Also a well balanced diet is a must .

9:04PM PDT on Jun 14, 2009

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