Do you really need to poop every day?

Hand grabbing for toilet paper
No, you don't need to poop every day, but if you aren’t clearing your bowels regularly, it could be a sign that something is off.

It wasn't their normal topic of conversation, but late into a cocktail-fueled girls' night, Marissa and her friends began talking about a subject that was normally off limits, even for them. Men, children, jobs, other friends -- you name it -- they were quick to hash it out. But poop?

Yet here they were, chatting about their bowel movements. Pooping once a day was normal for two of the friends, while it was once every couple of days for another. And the third? Once a week, if she pooped at all. The revelations led them to wonder, "Do you really need to poop every day?"


Turns out, you don't. Your digestive tract can accommodate a week's worth of food -- and sometimes more. This means there's an entire range of regularity, and anywhere you fall on the spectrum is probably OK. There are downsides to being an infrequent pooper, though. Constipation can lead to backaches and stomach discomfort. It also can make you feel and look bloated. And, when you finally do poop, it will be quite malodorous; the longer waste stays in your bowels, the more time it will have to work up some stinky gas.

If you aren't clearing your bowels on a frequent basis, it could be a sign that you aren't eating right or exercising much. A diet with adequate amounts of fiber -- 20 to 35 grams a day for most adults -- will keep you regular and help prevent heart disease. Daily exercise helps engage abdominal muscles and move your digestive processes along. And, if you don't take in enough liquid, it can put your urge to poop on hold. When some or all of these factors work together, it can throw a monkey wrench in your pooping plans. The longer you wait to poop, the more difficult it will be. As waste solidifies in your colon, it will become harder to expel with each passing day [source: Fetters].

Regardless of whether you poop three times a week or three times a day, your digestive system is always at work behind the scenes. Within a few hours of eating and drinking, it will have extracted and processed nutrients, moved them into your bloodstream and sent any leftover material on a 20-foot (6-meter) journey through your intestines. This colon-bound waste takes a day or two to get there but, once it does, the rest is largely up to you. Taking time out of your busy day to poop properly is a must -- even if it means making the office "walk of shame" back to your desk after you've spent 15 minutes in the bathroom [source: WebMD].


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Related Articles

  • Fetters, Aleisha K. "Health Myth: Do You Really Need to Poop Once a Day?" Details. Feb. 13, 2014. (Feb. 1, 2015)
  • WebMD. "Understanding Constipation." March 30, 2014. (Feb. 1, 2015)