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Potty talk: what IS a normal bowel movement anyway?

***This post is intended for use in examining bowel movements in the average, healthy adult. For other individuals as well as babies and children, please book an appointment to discuss your questions and concerns with your physician or Alex or Stephanie!

Well, it’s something we all do but rarely talk about… bowel movements.

But the thing is, your bowel routine can be a very helpful indicator of your overall health. And a lot of people may not realize that bowel movements which are out of the ordinary can be a sign to have a conversation with your healthcare provider.

First of all, what exactly is poop? Stools are made up of mostly of water - the rest is a mixture of bacteria, waste products of digestion (e.g. bile and mucus), and indigestible food remnants (e.g. corn, nuts, seeds).

Diet, exercise, lifestyle, medications, supplements, diseases, disorders, and infections can all affect your bowel habits.

So, to help breakdown the barriers around discussing poop, let’s talk about what a normal bowel movement actually is.

Firstly, there is no magic number for everyone - healthy bowel movements can range from 1 every 3 days to 3 in 1 day. As long as you are sticking to your normal, there is no cause for concern.

It’s the sensation, sight, and (yes) smell that can tell us what’s going on internally.

First of all, bowel movements should be formed, but soft, and passed easily with minimal pushing. Bowel movements should definitely not hurt (unless you ate a particularly spicy meal… remember: if it burns going in, it’ll burn coming out!) - if you are experiencing pain, please discuss with your physician.

Once you have completed your bowel movement, you should feel relief and like you’ve completely emptied your bowels.

Bowel movements are going to smell… sorry, it’s just a fact of life! Animal-based foods tend to produce a stronger fragrance than plant-based foods so your bathroom smells can vary a lot based on diet. However, if your stools are particularly foul-smelling or are unusual in colour, texture, and consistency this is definitely a reason to bring it up with your physician!

Now it’s time to look in the toilet bowl (sorry!) to do a health check…

First, look at the