Is it normal to have a bowel movement only about twice a week?

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Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
You would be surprised at how many people have this sort of bowel irregularity.

Still, gastroenterologists consider three or more bowel movements a week normal. The fact that you usually have only two would place you in the "constipation" range.

At a doctor's visit, you would be asked a set of questions to make sure that your constipation isn't from something serious, such as a colon cancer that is blocking your bowels. Your doctor might ask:
  • Do you have blood in your stool?
  • Have you noticed any unexplained weight loss?
  • Is the constipation of recent onset?
  • Is the constipation getting worse week by week?
Your doctor might also order a blood test to rule out an underactive thyroid. That could cause a sluggish bowel as well.

If none of these apply to you, I would say your constipation is "functional," meaning no medical causes that can be identified. This constipation is not caused by a large colon. But the colon might swell over time from retained stool.

You did not ask about treatment, so I assume you're not having lower discomfort or pain that is interfering with your daily activities in any way. But if this were the case, try an over-the-counter medicine for relief. There is a range of them: stool softeners (i.e. Colace), "saline" cathartics (i.e. milk of magnesia, Miralax) and stimulant cathartics (i.e. Senokot, Dulcolax). If your symptoms are extreme and won't go away, talk with a gastroenterologist.
Harvard Medical School The Sensitive Gut

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.