Why Am I Pooping So Much?

Your bowel habits are influenced by a variety of different things, some of which you may not even realize. The number of times you poop each day can vary, and everyone has different bowel habits. Normal bowel movements can range anywhere from three times a day to four times a week.

It's important to be aware of any changes in your regular bowel habits. Most people have a "rhythm" or general bowel schedule. If you find yourself running to the bathroom more than usual, that’s something to take note of.

In this article, we’ll review the possible causes of frequent pooping, and when you should call your healthcare provider.

Woman running to toilet in night clothes.

Peter Cade / Getty Images

Common Causes

Changes in bowel habits can be caused by a variety of things, and it may not always be clear what the cause is. Reviewing any changes in behavior can help you figure out the issue.

Dietary Changes

Changes in your diet can affect your pooping habits. Too much fiber can cause more bowel movements, as well as very high-fat meals.

Exercise

When you exercise, your colon responds to movement. Your bowel muscles contract, helping to move bowel movements along.

Aerobic exercise like walking has also been found to increase healthy gut bacteria, contributing to regular bowel movements.

If you’ve been pretty sedentary and then start an exercise routine, it’s common to start to see changes in your bowel habits.

Alcohol Consumption

Drinking alcohol speeds up the digestive process and increases colon contractions. This causes more frequent bowel movements. This also means your body also can’t absorb fluid, making your stool looser and more watery.

Stress

Stress can cause constipation, frequent bowel movements, or diarrhea.

It can also change the physiology of the intestine. There are neurons in the bowel that communicate with the brain. Stress affects the neurons in the bowel, which is why so many people have stomach aches, diarrhea, or the urge to poop when stressed.

Stress is also linked to changes in gut bacteria, which can impact bowel habits.

Menstruation

Hormones affect gastrointestinal (GI) function, and monthly fluctuations can cause different GI symptoms, including diarrhea and frequent bowel movements.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is defined as loose and watery stools being passed at least three times a day. It can be acute or chronic, and acute diarrhea is a common occurrence.

Acute diarrhea lasts for one or two days, and gets better on its own, whereas chronic diarrhea lasts between two and four weeks.

Diarrhea can be caused by infections, medications, food allergies or intolerances, surgery, or digestive tract issues, including:

  • Viral infections: norovirus, viral gastroenteritis (flu)
  • Bacterial infections: E. coli, salmonella
  • Parasitic infections: giardia
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn's disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Sometimes abdominal surgery can cause diarrhea
  • Long-term use of certain medications, like antibiotics, that can kill good bacteria

Medication

Sometimes medications can cause frequent bowel movements and even diarrhea. These medications include:

If you suspect your frequent poops are the result of taking medication, call the healthcare provider that prescribed it to you. The dosage may need to be adjusted or a different drug may need to be used. If the medication is over-the-counter, ask your healthcare provider if you should continue taking it.

Diseases and Disorders Associated with Frequent Bowel Movements

Various diseases and disorders are associated with frequent bowel movements. If you’re pooping more than usual and not sure why, your healthcare provider might run some tests to check for any underlying causes.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a cluster of symptoms that occur at the same time. It's a functional GI disorder, which means it’s related to issues with how your brain and gut work together.

 Symptoms include abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, diarrhea, constipation, or a mix of all three.

Prevalence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a chronic digestive and immune disorder. It’s triggered by eating gluten, and damages the small intestine, along with other organs. It can cause diarrhea, constipation, loose stool, and foul-smelling stool.

Along with an exam and taking your medical and family history, a healthcare provider can diagnose celiac disease through blood tests and a biopsy of the small intestine during an endoscopy.

How many people have Celiac disease?

Celiac disease affects at least 3 million Americans.

Crohn's Disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory GI disorder. It's a common disorder, and can significantly impact quality of life.

Although it can affect any part of your digestive tract from the mouth to the anus, it most often affects the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine.

Along with fatigue, fever, joint pain, and nausea, a symptom of Crohn’s disease is diarrhea.

How Common Is Crohn's disease?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that in 2015, 1.3 % of adults in the United States (about 3 million) were diagnosed with either Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis (UC).

Treatment

If you've been diagnosed with a disease that affects your bowel frequency or habits, follow the treatment plan that your healthcare provider has developed with you.

Dietary management is often part of the treatment for the above diseases.

If the cause of your frequent pooping is a result of lifestyle choices and not due to an underlying illness, there are several things you can do to curtail symptoms, including:

  • Stay hydrated.
  • Avoid foods that seem to be triggering an upset stomach or loose stool. Sometimes, bland foods might be best for a bit, like bananas, rice, toast, and applesauce.
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks.
  • Avoid dairy products and spicy foods.
  • Stop or minimize caffeine consumption.

Stress can cause frequent bowel movements and exacerbate existing GI disorders. Learning tools for stress management can help you reduce the impact stress has on your body and mind. This may include yoga, meditation, relaxation techniques, and more.

Prevention

Frequent bowel movements aren't always preventable. But knowing what triggers your body can help you make choices that reduce the likelihood of pooping too much.

Eating a healthy diet rich in fiber and minimizing processed foods, as well as staying hydrated, can help regulate your bowels. Staying active with physical activity can also help to regulate bowel habits.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you’ve noticed changes in your bowel habits and aren’t sure why to talk with your healthcare provider. It may help to keep a journal of your bowel habits and diet to share with them so they have more information about what might be going on. If you find yourself in the bathroom more than not, or it’s interfering with your daily life, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

If you’ve tried multiple things to help reduce your bowel frequency to no avail, call your healthcare provider for an appointment.

Summary

Everyone’s pooping habits are different. It's important to notice any changes in your bowel habits and talk with your healthcare provider about them. There are a variety of things that can cause you to poop more, so don’t panic if you realize you’re spending a little more time in the bathroom than usual. Taking stock of any lifestyle or dietary changes can help you figure out what’s going on. If you’re still concerned about these changes, call your healthcare provider.

A Word From VeryWell

Frequent bowel movements or changes in bowel habits can impact your life and in some cases, impair the quality of your life. It’s important to see your healthcare provider if you aren’t aware of a cause for these changes. Finding out the reason behind the frequent pooping can help you get the appropriate treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the normal number of times to poop each day?

    Normal can vary across individuals. People often have a pattern of what’s right for them. Typically, it can range from anywhere from three times a day to three times a week. Some people may not poop every day.

  • Why do I poop so much even when I don't eat much?

    Some GI disorders cause bulky and frequent stools even when you don’t eat a lot. Even without a GI disorder, what you eat has a lot to do with your stools. If you eat a high-fiber diet, even if you don’t eat a lot, you may have frequent bowel movements because of the fiber.

  • Does pooping a lot mean your metabolism is high?

    Maybe, but what it really reflects is the speed of your digestive system. Metabolism and digestion are two separate and different processes. Metabolism is how the body uses the energy absorbed from digesting food; digestion is how the body breaks down and excretes food in the digestive tract.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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