If pooping is comfortable, things are (literally) going well
Pooping shouldn’t require too much pushing, according to the National Institute on Aging. Likewise, bowel movements shouldn’t hurt. Your BMs can tell you a lot about your health, so taking a glance in the bowl to look at color, shape, size–and even taking (a little) whiff on occasion can be important. Here are some of your weirdest pooping habits, explained by science.
A brown bowel movement is best
Stool should be any shade of brown or green. “Typically, the food you eat takes three days from consumption to becoming waste,” says Gabriel Neal, MD, a family medicine doctor and clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine. “If your stool is on the greener side, it may have taken a shorter time to digest, but it’s generally no cause for concern.” If stool appears black or tarry, it may be evidence of blood (more about that later). Watch out for these clear signs that you have irritable bowel syndrome.
Too few or too many bowel movements can indicate trouble
While everyone has his or her own “normal,” having bowel movements three times a week or less is the common definition of constipation. On the flip side, it’s hard to say what constitutes as too frequent bowel movements, but three times a day is still considered normal. That’s okay, as long as you’re consistent with your own routine since the real sign of trouble is when you experience a significant change in bowel movement patterns. “If your digestive clock suddenly goes from three times a week to three times a day, that could be a sign of an underlying condition and shouldn’t be ignored,” says Dr. Neal. Slight changes in the frequency of bowel movements or the consistency of your stool, however, generally don’t indicate a problem. “Maybe you ate something that didn’t agree with your stomach, or perhaps you were a little dehydrated,” says Dr. Neal. “These and many other routine factors can change the color, size, frequency, and consistency of your stool.” Haven’t had a bowel movement in a few days? Here are surprising reasons you’re suddenly constipated.