Bowel movements are different for everyone. The healthy range is usually considered to be from three times per week up to three times per day.
Many things can affect the ability to poop, from diet or illness to a change in routine.
A laxative is a medication that encourages a bowel movement. There are also some natural remedies that can be used as alternatives. In this article, we take a look at seven of these options.
Kiwi fruits may be a great natural laxative as they are high in fiber and could aid digestion.
There are some natural ways to encourage a bowel movement. Listed below are actions to take, food and drink to try, and herbal remedies that may help.
Exercise can stimulate muscles in the lower part of the digestive system. This part of the gut gets rid of waste from the body in the form of poop.
Taking a brisk walk or jog or choosing some other form of exercise may encourage a bowel movement.
2. Relaxation and posture
Not being able to poop when desired can be stressful. Trying to relax and taking enough time can help. Straining or trying to force the body to poop is not healthy.
Raising the knees above the hips can make it easier to poop. Resting the feet on a block or stool when sitting on the toilet are ways to raise the knees.
This dried fruit is a great source of fiber, and fiber helps move food through the digestive system. Eating a few prunes may help to encourage a bowel movement.
Senna is a plant, and its leaves and fruit are used as a natural laxative. It is widely available online to be taken in tablet or liquid form.
The herb takes around 8 hours to work. A person may choose to take senna before they go to sleep so that it works overnight. This should mean that they can have a bowel movement in the morning.
5. Kiwi fruit
Kiwi fruits are high in fiber, and 2013 research suggests that they may assist digestion. This would mean that the fruit could be a useful natural laxative to try.
There is little recent research into this area, although a 2015 study suggested that decaffeinated coffee was linked to a reduced time to a bowel movement after bowel surgery.
It is not clear why coffee has this effect but drinking a cup may help a person to poop.
7. Flaxseed oil
A small study found flaxseed oil to work well in the treatment of constipation. People taking part in the research were given 4 milliliters of flaxseed oil per day.
Flaxseed oil can be taken as a supplement and normally comes in capsule form.
When you need to poop but can't
Using the restroom at different times when travelling may make it harder for someone to poop.
Constipation is the medical term for not pooping regularly or finding it hard to poop. Other symptoms include feeling bloated, sick, or having a belly ache.
Constipation does not always have a clear cause. It often happens because a person is not eating enough fiber, drinking enough fluids, or exercising enough. Stress or a change in routine can also cause constipation, and it can be a side effect of some medication.
Traveling can mean that a person does not use the restroom at their usual times. It can help if they plan bathroom breaks to try and keep to their regular routine.
Stress or anxiety about pooping away from home can stop someone being able to go. A person should try to relax, feel comfortable, and not rush, all of which can help.
Tips for healthy bowel movements
A diet that contains enough fiber can help to keep the digestive system healthy. The two kinds of fiber are soluble and insoluble, and both are needed in the diet.
Sources of fiber include:
- pulses, such as beans or lentils
- wholegrain pasta, bread, and cereal
- skin of fruits and vegetables, such as potatoes or apples
- brown rice
Foods such as fries, ice cream, and processed foods do not contain a lot of fiber.
Drinking enough water helps make poop soft and easy to pass. The average adult should aim to drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluid per day.
Aiming to have a bowel movement around the same time each day can help some people to poop regularly. A person should try to go when the urge first arrives. Delaying pooping causes water to be reabsorbed, which leads to harder stool that is more difficult to pass.
The body needs time to digest food, so a person should allow some time to pass before trying to poop after a meal. Regular mealtimes help with regular bowel movements, as well.
Allowing enough time to use the bathroom, and making this a relaxing space can help. Stress can make it difficult to poop when needed.
When to see a doctor
A doctor may prescribe laxatives if diet and lifestyle changes have not made it easier to poop.
A person is likely to have constipation if:
- they have pooped less than three times in a week
- their poop is hard or dry
- it is difficult to poop because their stool is larger than usual
If left untreated, constipation can lead to complications, such as piles.
If a person has made changes to their diet and lifestyle but is still constipated, they may wish to consult a doctor.
A laxative may be needed to treat constipation. There is a range of different laxatives available. A doctor will be able to prescribe the most suitable one.
Care should be taken to follow the instructions for how much medication to take. Laxatives can be harmful to health if not taken properly. They also decrease the bowel's natural ability to move stool if regularly used or used too often.
Not being able to poop regularly could be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Someone should see a doctor if they have any of the following symptoms in addition to not being able to poop regularly:
- blood in the poop
- having a bloated stomach for a long time
- feeling tired frequently
- unexpected weight loss
Being unable to poop is uncomfortable and frustrating. However, making changes to diet and lifestyle should put a stop to constipation and help to keep bowel movements regular. Walking, exercising, and drinking fluids are all ways to help.
Adding some high-fiber foods to the diet, such as fruit and wholegrain bread, can make a big difference, too.