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Poo: how often is normal?

Medibank expert Billy Falkingham settles the score on what’s normal when it comes to moving our bowels.

William Falkingham standing outside

How often should you poop a day? While most people assume you should move your bowels once a day, studies show this isn’t necessarily the case. If you visit the toilet more or less often, you’re not alone — 98% of the population has a bowel movement somewhere within the range of three times a day to three times a week.

Watch below to learn more about how often you should be moving your bowels.

Put simply, the best indication of what’s healthy is what’s normal for you. For example, if you usually go to the bathroom twice a day, and suddenly you’re only going twice a week, this indicates a change to your normal habit, and is therefore worth a visit to your GP.

Other things to consider: colour and consistency

The Bristol Stool Chart — created by the University of Bristol — is considered the go-to guide for analysing stool consistency. The chart outlines seven ‘stool types’, which are based on shape and consistency — broken down as follows:

  • Types 1 to 2: firm stools, which may indicate constipation
  • Types 3 to 4: soft stools, which are easy to pass – ideal consistency
  • Types 5 to 7: softer stools, which are very easy to pass and may indicate diarrhoea or urgency

So, while your stools may not fall into types three and four, again it’s important to know what’s normal for you, and if you’re suddenly falling onto types one or seven, consider getting it checked out.

When to seek urgent medical attention

On top of sudden changes in frequency or consistency, it’s worth being aware of the potentially more serious signs of illness, which could indicate a problem that requires urgent medical attention. The presence of blood in stools can be an indication of hemorrhoids or bowel infections, but can also be a sign of more serious conditions, such as bowel cancer, so it’s essential anyone reporting the symptom gets it checked out.

Want to become more ‘regular’? Check out these tips.

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