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When are frequent bowel movements a problem?

Pooping is a sacred ritual in the life of every man. It’s one of the rare instances when we’re left alone to reflect on the day and let our asses go numb while mindlessly scrolling through Instagram.

Most guys have a firmly established pooping pattern. Perhaps you’re a morning pooper. Or maybe you’re a post-lunch pooper so you can evacuate your bowels on the company’s dime. But some guys aren’t fortunate enough to have regular bowel movements—and if you’re reading this, chances are you’re one of them. 

Here’s the scoop on excessive poop.

How Much Poop Is Too Much Poop?

In a recent large study of people reporting “normal” bowel patterns, researchers found that about 95% of people poop between 3 and 21 times per week, while less than 40% of healthy people poop once a day.

In a commentary on the study, gastroenterologist Dan Worthley noted that the “Goldilocks zone for pooping” is between three times a day and three times a week. This zone is also known as the “three and three” rule.

According to Dr. Anish Sheth, author of What’s Your Poo Telling You? It’s totally normal for adults to experience short-term changes in their bowel habits. But what if you’re always running to the toilet with your butt cheeks clenched? 

3 Causes of Frequent Bowel Movements

If you’re taking more than three trips to the throne every day, consider these factors:

1. Your Diet

There’s a direct correlation between what you put in your mouth and what comes out the other end...and how much. For starters, your morning cup of joe has a laxative effect that triggers emergency coffee shits

Spicy foods like burritos and curry stimulate your intestines, triggering explosive, spicy poops. Other foods known to trigger emergency deuces are fructose, artificial sweeteners, and alcohol (usually in the form of beer shits).

2. Underlying Health Conditions

Irritable bowel syndrome: IBS is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. The most common symptoms are chronic abdominal pain, cramping, and bloating. According to the Mayo Clinic, IBS causes aren’t fully understood, but symptoms may be triggered by food allergies or stress.

Celiac disease: This digestive disease triggers an autoimmune response when you eat gluten, resulting in symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue. If left untreated, celiac disease can damage the lining in the small intestine, leading to malabsorption of nutrients.

Crohn’s disease: This rare form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) irritates the digestive tract, leading to gastrointestinal symptoms like excessive bowel movements, bloody stool, and loss of appetite.

Ulcerative colitis: This is one of the more serious gastrointestinal disorders, which causes painful ulcers in the colon and rectum. Symptoms usually develop gradually over time and may include bloody stool, fever, and severe abdominal pain.

Lactose intolerance: People who are lactose intolerant cannot fully digest the sugar (lactose) in dairy products. Rather than being absorbed and digested normally, the lactose moves straight through the colon, which causes bad gas, nausea, bloating, and sudden urges to poop.

3. Medications

Starting a new medication can throw the frequency of your bowel movements way out of whack. Antibiotics are a notorious culprit of excessive pooping because they can disrupt the gut bacteria that regulate bowel movements. This side effect is harmless and resolves itself within a few days of finishing the treatment.

How to Regulate Your Bowel Movements

If your burritos and beer diet are to blame for your too many number twos, soluble fiber is your friend. Fiber is in whole grains, beans, bananas, apples, and carrots. Soluble fiber absorbs water as it travels through your digestive system, and firmer poop means less frequent poops. You can also pop an antacid tablet after a troublesome meal to stave off rumbles, cramping, and gas. 

If antibiotics are the problem, talk to a healthcare provider about starting a probiotic to restore your gut’s balance of good and bad bacteria. A 2012 study found that taking probiotics can reduce your risk of the runs by 42 percent. 

You can’t conquer the world if you’re spending all your time on the toilet, so get your tummy trouble under control. No matter how often you poop, we’ll always be there to save your ass.

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