I'm a GP – here's how often you should really be pooping and when to get help | The Sun

EVER wondered if you're pooing too much?

Or not enough?

There's actually no set answer for how much you should be going for a number two.

Dr Hana Patel, a GP specialising in women’s health, has lifted the lid on what 'normal' toilet habits can mean – and when you might have reason to be concerned.

Some of her patients poo up to six times a day, whereas for others it's normal to only go once every several weeks, Dr Patel told Metro.

Everybody will have their own routine they're accustomed to.

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But Dr Patel said you should watch out for changes in your poo habits.

"If there is a change from your normal bowel habit, then this is something to speak to your doctor about, as medical conditions such as bowel infection, irritable bowel and bowel disease can cause problems like this," she explained.

So it's less about how much you poop and more about what's normal for you – and whether that changes.

Dr Patel stressed that there are a number of reasons why bowel habits might be different and they're not all scary.

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"Our bowel habit and type of stool is dependent on what we eat and drink, how much fluid we drink and how we are feeling."

NHS guidance recommends you speak to a GP if you notice a persistent change in your bowel habits for three weeks or more.

Dr Patel said that if it's painful to poop and you're having to strain, that's a sign of unhealthy bowel movements.

But she noted that poo can come in all sorts of colours – though its usually brown.

She said: "If your stool is a different colour than normal or you find that you are passing blood or mucus in your stool, then you should speak to your GP about it, as it could mean that you are suffering from an undiagnosed medical problem."

There are visual guides you can check out to understand more about your bowel movements – and it can help if you're trying to describe your poo to a health professional.

"Type 3-4 is usually a normal form, and this poo is soft and easy to pass," Dr Patel said.

"Type 5 is veering towards diarrhoea, but can also be normal for some people."

Changes in your bowel habits could be a sign of bowel cancer, NHS guidance says.

Symptoms of bowel cancer

The 3 main symptoms of bowel cancer are:

  • persistent blood in your poo for no obvious reason
  • a persistent change in your bowel habit – usually having to poo more and your poo may also become more runny
  • persistent lower abdominal (tummy) pain, bloating or discomfort that's always caused by eating and may be associated with loss of appetite or significant unintentional weight loss

Though the exact cause of bowel cancer isn't known, there are some factors that can increase your risk:

  • age – nine in 10 people with bowel cancer are 60 or over
  • diet – eating lots red or processed meats and little fibre can increase your risk
  • weight – it's more common in overweight or obese people
  • exercise – being inactive increases your risk
  • alcohol and smoking – both may increase your chances of getting bowel cancer
  • family history – if you have a close relative who developed bowel cancer under the age of 50, screenings are offered

But the NHS noted that most people who experience these three symptoms don't in fact have bowel cancer.

There are other health problems that could cause them.

For example:

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  • if you have blood in your poo but with pain or soreness, you could have piles (haemorrhoids)
  • something you've eaten could be causing a change in bowel habits
  • if you're pooing less often and your stool is harder, try laxatives before seeing a GP – it's not usually caused by a serious condition

If you're aged 60 to 74, registered with a GP and living in England, you'll be automatically sent a bowel cancer screening home test kit every two years.

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