Sometimes, a person may find it difficult to have a bowel movement. Some natural remedies, such as exercise and diet changes, can help people empty their bowels more regularly.
Everyone experiences bowel movements differently. The frequency of bowel movements varies, but experts consider the healthy range to be from three times per week to three times per day.
Many factors can affect the ability to have a bowel movement, including diet, health conditions, and changes in routine.
A laxative is a medication that encourages a bowel movement. There are also some natural remedies that people can use as alternatives. This article looks at seven of these options.
A person can try some natural remedies to encourage a bowel movement. The following sections list some actions to take, foods and drinks to try, and herbal remedies that may help with constipation.
Exercise can stimulate muscles in the lower part of the digestive system. This part of the gut removes waste from the body in the form of stool.
A 2019 review of existing research suggests that low intensity exercise, such as taking a brisk walk, can be an effective treatment for constipation. However, more research is necessary to understand how different types of exercises affect digestion.
2. Relaxation and posture
Not being able to have a bowel movement when necessary can be stressful. Straining or forcing the body to pass stool is not healthy, so trying to relax and take enough time can help.
Certain toilet positions may make it easier for a person to pass stool. For example, 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 is one way of raising the knees.
This dried fruit is a great source of fiber, which helps move food through the digestive system. Eating a few prunes may encourage a bowel movement.
While prune juice lacks the fiber of the dried fruit, both are high in sorbitol. This is a type of sugar that can pass quickly through the gut and draws water into the gut. This can help bulk up stool and stimulate a bowel movement.
Some people use the leaves and fruit of the senna plant as a natural laxative. Senna is available online in liquid or tablet form.
Senna takes around 8 hours to work. Some people choose to take senna before going to sleep, which allows it to work overnight. Often, this results in a bowel movement in the morning.
Senna is a natural substance that people have used for centuries to relieve temporary constipation. However, long-term use can lead to dependency, requiring higher dosages to get the same effect. Long-term use is not advisable and can have irreversible negative effects on the digestive tract.
Kiwifruit is high in fiber. A small
Flaxseed is a small seed that comes from the flax plant and is rich in fiber. In particular, flaxseed contains a type of dietary fiber called mucilage fiber. This type of fiber forms a gel when it combines with water, which can help soften stool and act as a natural laxative to help relieve constipation.
“Constipation” is the medical term for not pooping regularly or finding it hard to poop. Symptoms include feeling bloated or sick and having a stomachache.
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 medications.
Traveling can mean that a person does not use the restroom at their usual times, hydrate regularly, or eat their typical diet. Planning bathroom breaks to try to maintain a routine may help.
Additionally, stress or anxiety about using a restroom outside the home can prevent people from emptying their bowels. A person should try to relax, feel comfortable, and not rush.
Learn about foods that might help with constipation.
Eating high fiber foods, drinking plenty of water, and making an effort to have regular bowel movements can help prevent constipation.
A diet that contains enough fiber can help keep the digestive system healthy. Two kinds of fiber are essential to the diet: soluble and insoluble fiber.
Sources of fiber include:
- pulses, such as beans and lentils
- whole grain pasta, bread, and cereal
- the skins of fruits and vegetables, such as potatoes and apples
- brown rice
Foods such as fries, ice cream, and processed foods do not contain a lot of fiber.
Drinking enough water helps soften stool, making it easier to pass. Recommendations on the amount of water an adult should drink vary.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives
Regular bowel movements
Aiming to have a bowel movement around the same time each day can help some people pass stool regularly. A person should try to go when the urge first arrives. Delaying pooping causes the body to reabsorb the water, 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 it a relaxing space can help. Stress can make it difficult to poop when necessary.
A person is likely to have constipation if:
- they have pooped fewer than three times in a week
- their stool is hard or dry
- it is difficult to poop because their stool is larger than usual
- it is painful to pass stool
If a person does not receive treatment, constipation can lead to complications such as piles, also known as hemorrhoids.
If a person has changed their diet and lifestyle but still experiences constipation, a doctor can likely help.
A doctor may recommend a laxative to treat constipation. Many laxatives are available, and a doctor will prescribe the most suitable one.
Always follow the instructions for how much of a laxative to take. Laxatives can be harmful to health if a person does not take them properly. Using laxatives regularly or too often can also decrease the bowel’s natural ability to move stool.
In some cases, being unable to poop regularly could indicate an underlying medical condition. A person should consult a doctor if they are experiencing the following symptoms in addition to not being able to poop regularly:
- blood in the stool
- stomach bloating that lasts a long time
- frequent tiredness
- unexpected weight loss
- persistent or frequent abdominal pain or discomfort
Being unable to pass stool can be uncomfortable and frustrating. Some diet and lifestyle changes can ease constipation and help keep bowel movements regular. Walking, exercising, drinking fluids, and eating some high fiber foods, such as fruit and whole grain bread, can help.