Myth or fact: Do you really need to poo every day?

Image via HBO.

Since we were first toilet trained, we’ve been told that we should be emptying our bowels everyday. But for some of us, our number two situation isn’t exactly like “clockwork”. So should you be concerned if you’re not, erm, dropping daily?

According to a study published in the Gut journal, less than half of us actually have “conventional” bowel movements that operate on a 24-hour circle.

The researchers from the Bristol Royal Infirmary questioned over 1800 people and found that just 33 per cent of women pooed daily, with four per cent going twice or more a day. One per cent went just weekly or less.

When it comes to poo, turns out ‘normal’ can be hard to define.

In fact, according to gastroenterologist Anish Sheth M.D, ‘normal’ is entirely relative, whether you go religiously every morning or every few days.

“It’s all normal but the important thing is that you’re consistent for your own routine,” he says in his book What’s Your Poo Telling You.(Post continues after gallery.)

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If you’ve been dosing up on laxatives and prune juice thinking once a day was non-negotiable, you can relax (and store them in the back of your cupboard.) If there’s nothing to pass, there’s nothing to pass.

But while you don’t need to go every day, that doesn’t mean infrequent bowel movement can’t cause a few problems if you notice changes outside your ordinary routine.

Women are more likely to suffer from constipation. Image via iStock.

 

The Gut study also found that women are more likely to suffer from constipation - the often painful or difficulty in passing of hard or small stools - compared to men, with young women in particular more associated with the condition and irregular bowels.

Again though, this doesn't necessarily immediately call for laxatives. A 2010 study from researchers at the University of Dakota, published in Drugs journal, found that for much of their existence they have been misused, particularly by older generations who believed daily deposits were necessary for good health. (Post continues after video.)

Improper use or overuse can cause severe medical problems including electrolyte and fluid imbalance, structural and functional colonic changes and allergic reactions.

President of the Gut Foundation, gastroenterologist Professor Terry Bolin told the ABC that a high fibre diet can help the issue, while Sheth also advises making sure you're drinking six to eight glasses of water.

"High fibre 'bulks' up the stool, but unless you consume enough water, your stool may actually become harder and more difficult to pass," he says.

If you are suffering from constipation, your best bet is to make an appointment with your doctor or specialist who can work out the best course of action.

Do you suffer from constipation?

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