How Long Is Too Long To Be Constipated?

While frustrating and uncomfortable, constipation is not unfamiliar to many Americans. In fact, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, roughly 16 out of every 100 adults experience constipation in the U.S. While people who are over the age of 60, pregnant, or with preexisting health conditions are more prone to constipation than others, the condition can affect anyone at any age and at any time.

Unfortunately, bathroom-related problems continue to carry a stigma when it comes to talking about them in the open. A 2020 survey published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology revealed that 3 out of 5 adults suffering from constipation have never sought treatment from a physician.

Causes of constipation can be circumstantial or chronic. Constipation can accompany certain health conditions such as diabetes or IBS, or it may be a result of stress or lack of fiber in one's diet (via the Cleveland Clinic). Whatever the cause, constipation is characterized by the slowing of one's bowels, resulting in less frequent bowel movements than normal.

How often should we poop?

While everyone's frequency of bowel movements will be different, Healthline states that the average healthy person poops anywhere from three times daily to three times per week. Colorectal surgeon Dr. Massarat Zutshi tells the Cleveland Clinic, "As long as you have a bowel movement that occurs regularly — not too few in a week — and has a regular consistency, you're fine."

Bowel movements occurring less than twice a week are considered abnormal. Therefore, you'll want to consult with a doctor if it's been more than 72 hours since you last pooped (via WebMD). You'll also want to seek prompt medical attention if your constipation is accompanied by abdominal pain, bleeding, weight loss, or substantial changes in stool consistency.

For those looking to exercise prevention, Dr. Zutshi suggests drinking at least eight glasses of water each day, consuming adequate amounts of fiber, and making time for regular physical activity.