Frequency Defecation - When it is normal and when not

Many people wonder about the normal frequency of defecation, worried that the number of evacuations produced is insufficient or excessive. Although it is legitimate to question the "famous" concept of intestinal regularity, or how many times it is normal to "go to the bathroom", the answer is too often influenced by prejudices and false convictions.

Some people have an almost maniacal attitude towards this aspect, because they believe that only a daily defecation is synonymous with health. Not to mention those who inconvenience bizarre comparisons with animals, such as the cow, very different from humans due to eating habits and gastro-intestinal function. For these reasons, many people consider themselves constipated on the basis of a purely and exclusively subjective malaise.

All this, in some subjects, even generates phenomena of abuse against laxative drugs and supplements: after obtaining the long-awaited evacuation, it is expected to produce a new one the following day, ignoring that after the energetic defecation induced by the laxative it is necessary an interval of a few days before the necessary waste accumulates in the intestinal tract. This condition of false constipation should by no means be understood as an abnormal phenomenon and in no way justifies the new intake of purgatives.

  • The normal frequency of defecation varies widely among healthy people: some individuals may produce three evacuations a week, while others may have three a day. Within this range the function of elimination of faecal waste can be considered normal
  • Generally, a frequency of faecal evacuations of less than three weekly episodes is not sufficient to speak of constipation; in fact, a person suffering from constipation also complains of other symptoms and signs - such as the feeling of incomplete bowel emptying, anorectal obstruction, difficulties and efforts to evacuate, the evacuation of hard stools and the need for digital evacuation maneuvers - in at least one defecation out of 4.
  • The frequency of evacuation may vary over time, depending on dietary habits and the environmental and psychological situation. It is common, for example, to perceive a reduction in defecation when going to tourist resorts for holidays
  • In other words, if the stools have a normal appearance and consistency, even an excessive or insufficient evacuation frequency can be considered physiological. On the other hand, if the faeces show chromatic variations (for example if they are particularly light or dark), of consistency (for example watery or too hard) or of shape (faeces made of tape or goats), it is good to undergo a medical check for identify the causes of what is most likely a sign of gastro-intestinal problems.

FREQUENT DEFECATION (> 3 / day)RARE DEFECATION (<3 / week)
Common pathological causesCommon pathological causes
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn's disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Side effects of some drugs
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Food poisoning
  • Celiac disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Intestinal obstruction due to the presence of a large tumor or polyp
  • Side effects of some drugs
Common non-pathological causesCommon non-pathological causes
  • Excessive consumption of fruit and sugary foods
  • Excessive consumption of vegetables and whole foods
  • Insufficient consumption of foods rich in fiber, such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains
  • Insufficient supply of liquids
  • sedentary

Recommended

Levofloxacin
2019
Vitamin loss with food preservation
2019
Peritonsillar abscess
2019