Frequency of Bowel Movements

Posted by Lloyd on November 28, 2011

Q.I am a 21-year-old man, and I have a rather embarrassing question. People tell me that a normal individual has a bowel movement once in 24 hours. But I excrete three to four times a day. I have done so for years. Is this normal? If not, I would really like to know what to do about it.


A.A normal individual may have bowel movements anywhere from three times a day to three times a week. In fact, in my practice I tell my patients that there is really no “normal” frequency for bowel movements, as long as you are comfortable and have no medical condition that is causing true diarrhea (an increase in stool frequency, volume and weight).

A. It is important that you are certain you do not have a chronic inflammatory condition that is causing diarrhea; these usually are associated with fever, malaise, weakness or anemia (a depletion of iron in the blood).

I gather you have had these bowel habits for years without any of these other problems, so I bet you are quite normal. If you’re not sure, you can consider bringing it up on your next visit to your doctor.

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