How often a person passes stool can vary. Some people poop twice a day while others may do so three times a week. Constipation typically means a person poops fewer than three times a week.

Bowel movements can offer valuable insights into what is happening in the body. However, many people have concerns that they are pooping too many times a day or not enough.

This article explains typical poop frequency, including what factors can affect bowel movements, when pooping frequency can indicate a problem, and when to speak with a doctor.

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What is typical for one person may be atypical for another. A 2023 study investigating the association between stool frequency and all-cause mortality over five years examined the bowel habits of 14,573 adults in the United States.

The study authors identified the following habits from that population:

Stool frequencyPercentage of people
1–2 times a week3.3%
3–6 times a week12.1%
7 times a week53%
8–21 times a week30.4%
More than 21 times a week1.2%

Among each group, people reported different stool consistency types.

According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), there is so much variation in poop habits that healthcare professionals should avoid comparing people when diagnosing a problem.

Instead, they can compare any changes in stool frequency to the person’s typical bowel habits.

Good bowel habits involve pooping regularly and without discomfort. However, “normal” pooping habits vary significantly from one person to the next.

Poop that is watery or loose indicates that it is moving through the colon very quickly, usually as a result of irritation, such as from an infection or another source of inflammation.

Loose, watery stools that last for more than 14 days indicate chronic diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea can be due to health conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome, and can lead to problems such as:

Poop that is small and pellet-like can indicate constipation or incomplete bowel emptying. A person who poops fewer than three times a week may be experiencing constipation. Potential complications of constipation include:

How often a person goes to the bathroom can vary a lot and depends on a range of factors, including:

Fluid intake

Because the large intestine absorbs excess water, not drinking enough fluids can harden poop and make it more difficult to go.

Someone who is experiencing constipation should increase their fluid intake to help keep poop soft. Drinking enough fluids is also important to prevent dehydration if a person has diarrhea.


Constipation is more likely to affect older adults, although anyone can experience it.

As people age, they may experience health conditions and changes to their lifestyle that contribute to constipation. Older adults are also more likely to be taking medication that can interfere with their usual bowel habits.

Healthcare professionals can help older adults manage symptoms of constipation and any underlying causes.


Staying active helps the colon work better and move poop through the intestines more efficiently. When someone is experiencing constipation or slow digestion, exercising can help get things moving more regularly.


What a person eats can significantly affect bowel habits. Fiber is essential for regular bowel movements.

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the small intestine cannot easily break down into smaller molecules. As a result, it passes to the colon as a mass of undigested food that eventually becomes poop, also known as stool.

A diet that is adequate in fiber can promote regularity and prevent constipation.

Medical history

Some medical conditions and medications can affect bowel health and cause a person to poop more or less often than usual.

Health conditions that can contribute to constipation and diarrhea include:


Some hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen, can affect how often a person goes to the bathroom.

For example, a 2020 observational study involving 78 women ages 18–35 found that the frequency of self-reported diarrhea and constipation varied significantly depending on the day of a person’s menstrual cycle.

Social factors

Some people may have difficulty pooping in a public bathroom, at work, or when other people are nearby. This can cause someone to “hold it in” longer than necessary.

Over time, the body may not be able to respond as quickly to signs that it needs to poop, which can cause someone to feel constipated or uncomfortable.

Anyone who is concerned about their health should talk with their doctor. The doctor can evaluate the concerns and help to determine what, if any, changes the person needs to make.

Usually, irregular changes in pooping habits resolve within a short amount of time and are no cause for concern. People can encourage regular bowel movements by eating a balanced diet with adequate fiber, staying hydrated, and exercising.

However, a doctor should assess someone if their bowel changes last longer than three weeks and do not resolve with the above changes.

A person should seek urgent medical help if they experience symptoms such as:

Below are some common questions about poop frequency.

Can someone poop too much in a day?

Every person’s pooping habits are different, and pooping multiple times a day does not always indicate a problem. However, loose, watery stools that occur three times a day or more may indicate diarrhea.

Is it normal to poop once a week?

A 2023 study involving 14,573 adults found that 3.3% of people pooped 1–2 times a week.

Bowel habits vary from person to person. However, passing stools fewer than three times a week may indicate constipation.

How long can someone go without pooping?

For some people, regular bowel habits may involve several days without pooping. Factors such as diet, activity levels, and health conditions can all affect poop frequency.

However, pooping fewer than three times a week or straining hard to pass a stool may indicate constipation.

Bowel and poop habits are very personal; they can vary dramatically from person to person. Some people may poop several times a day, while others may experience days between bowel movements.

As well as poop frequency, it is important for a person to be aware of their poop consistency. For example, loose, watery stools may occur when a person has diarrhea.

Whenever a person’s bowel habits change significantly or do not resolve with home management strategies, they should visit their doctor for an evaluation.