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.

Learn more about how often to poop.

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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.

1. Exercise

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.

Learn more about constipation.

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.

3. Prunes

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.

Learn more about prune juice for constipation.

4. Senna

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.

Learn about senna tea.

5. Kiwifruit

Kiwifruit is high in fiber. A small 2019 study suggests that it may aid digestion. This could mean that kiwifruit might be a beneficial natural laxative to try. However, more research is necessary to find out more about its effects.

Learn about the health benefits of kiwifruit.

6. Coffee

Some research suggests that hot beverages, such as coffee, may help people have a bowel movement.

A 2021 review notes that compounds in coffee can improve the motility of the digestive tract and, therefore, that coffee may help provide relief for those experiencing constipation.

Learn more about why drinking coffee might encourage bowel movements.

7. Flaxseed

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.

Learn about the health benefits of flaxseed oil.

“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.

Consuming fiber

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:


  • fruit
  • oats
  • 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.

Learn more about high fiber foods.

Drinking water

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 no recommendation for how much plain water adults should consume daily, while the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom indicates that an average adult should aim to drink 6–8 glasses of water per day.

Learn more about how much water to drink each day.

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.

Learn more about reducing anxiety in order to poop regularly.

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:

Learn more about the differences between laxatives and stool softeners.

How do you stimulate a bowel movement quickly?

Using a stimulant laxative suppository can help someone have a bowel movement in 15–60 minutes. These laxatives are available over the counter. Stimulant laxatives are only suitable for occasional use unless a doctor recommends otherwise. Glycerin suppositories are an effective alternative that soften stool and act as a mild stimulant.

Adopting a squatting position may also help stimulate a bowel movement. Squatting may help the abdominal muscles work efficiently so a person can empty their bowels. While sitting on the toilet, people can place their feet on a footstool to raise their knees higher than their hips to simulate squatting.

Read more about the best poop position.

What helps constipation fast naturally?

For fast, natural constipation relief, people can try certain yoga positions or squatting while leaning against a wall or piece of furniture for support. Gentle movement while squatting, such as rocking or circling the hips, may help.

On the toilet, people can raise their knees higher than their hips using a footstool, lean forward and rest their forearms on their thighs, bulge out their abdomen as they take a deep breath in, and push down into the anus as they breathe out.

Read more about home remedies for constipation.

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.