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Frequent urge to defecate? 9 main causes

Stools differ from person to person. People may have bowel movements several times a week or several times a day. A sudden change in stool frequency may be due to stress, a change in diet or exercise, or an underlying condition. If the stool returns to normal after a few days, there is no need to worry. However, consistently passing significantly more bowel movements than normal can indicate an underlying condition that may need treatment.

Here are nine possible causes of frequent bowel movements. Here you will also find information on treatment options and when you should see a doctor if you have gastrointestinal problems.

Main causes of frequent urge to defecate

Diet changes and alcohol consumption can affect a person’s bowel habits. Here are some possible causes you’re pooping more than normal.

1 diet change

A change in diet can lead to a change in bowel movements. For example, eating more fiber helps food pass through the digestive system. So, a person who adds more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to their diet may find that they poop more often.

2 alcohol consumption

Alcohol can directly affect the amount of stool that a person passes. Drinks with high alcohol content can slow down the digestive system, while drinks with low alcohol content can speed it up. Low-alcohol drinks are beer and wine. After consuming these drinks, people may feel like they poop more or faster. This effect should disappear once the alcohol leaves the body.

3 exercise

A 2017 review suggests that low-intensity exercise can reduce the time it takes for food to pass through the intestines. This could lead to more regular bowel movements. Some people report a need to have a bowel movement during or immediately after physical activity. Intense exercise has a greater effect on the body and can cause the following symptoms:

stomach pain

4 stress

Stress can have a major impact on bowel function and health. It speeds up the movement of food through the colon, while prolonged stress can cause the bowel to need to be emptied more frequently. People suffering from acute stress or anxiety may also have an increased need to go to the bathroom. This is due to the body’s gut-brain axis, the network that connects the central nervous system to the nerves of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The gut-brain axis is responsible for the “butterflies” that a person feels in their stomach when they are anxious.

5 diarrhea

The definition of diarrhea is as follows: at least three loose, liquid stools per day. Other symptoms can include:

– an urgent need to go to the toilet
– Loss of bowel control
– Stomach pain
– nausea
Diarrhea can occur as a result of a viral, bacterial, or parasitic infection. The exact cause may not be obvious in some cases. Most cases of diarrhea should clear up within 4 days. In the meantime, it’s better to rest and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

6 periods

People are more likely to experience abdominal pain and diarrhea in the days leading up to their period. People who reported emotional symptoms and fatigue before or during their period were more likely to have multiple GI symptoms. The researchers conclude that this could be due to shared pathways between the brain, gut and hormones. These symptoms usually go away once your period ends.

7 Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal condition that can cause the following symptoms:

– Stomach cramps
– flatulence
– Diarrhea
– constipation
The cause of IBS is unclear, but some possible reasons include:

– Hypersensitivity of the nerves in the gut
– Food passes through the intestines too quickly or too slowly
– the stress
– Genetic factors.

Common dietary triggers of IBS include:

– caffeine
– Dairy products
– carbonated drinks
food intolerances

8 food intolerances

Food intolerance occurs when a person cannot properly digest certain foods.

Symptoms include:

– Diarrhea
– Abdominal pain or discomfort
– nausea
– vomiting

Here are some examples of food intolerances

– Lactose intolerance, where a person cannot break down the lactose found in milk and dairy products
– Fructose intolerance, where a person cannot break down fructose, a fruit sugar
– Non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which results in the inability to break down the gluten proteins found in grains.

9 Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Symptoms vary from person to person, depending in part on which part of the digestive tract is affected. Here are some of the most common symptoms:

– an urgent need to empty the intestines
– a feeling of incomplete emptying of the bowels
– persistent diarrhea
– constipation
– rectal bleeding
– Cramps and abdominal pain

There is no definite cause of Crohn’s disease, although genetic and environmental factors may play a role.


Treatment for more frequent urination depends on the underlying cause. If a person has an underlying medical condition, a doctor will need to treat it to relieve symptoms.

However, people can also benefit from more general treatments.

For example, the following options might help someone with acute diarrhea:

– over-the-counter medicines for diarrhea
– Sports drinks or rehydration solutions to prevent dehydration
– Avoid alcohol, caffeine and artificial sweeteners
– Avoid fatty, spicy or dairy products.
A person who believes their diet is causing them to have more frequent bowel movements may want to keep a food journal. This can help her identify foods that might be affecting her bowel habits. Once the person has identified trigger foods, they should avoid or limit them.

When to see a doctor

Having more bowel movements than usual is not necessarily a concern. However, a person should see a doctor if they experience any of the following symptoms:

– Stomach pain
– Diarrhea lasting more than 2 days
– Have at least 6 bowel movements in 24 hours
– Black or bloody stools
– Nausea or vomiting
– Persistent fever
– Symptoms of dehydration
These symptoms can indicate a serious underlying medical problem.


It is not always possible to prevent the triggers for more frequent bowel movements. However, the following tips can help reduce the risk of digestive problems.

– Increase fiber intake

A person who eats a lot of fiber may encourage more regular bowel movements. People should eat more vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
It’s important to gradually increase your fiber intake and drink plenty of water. This will help prevent constipation.

– Reduce stress

People who suffer from intestinal problems due to stress may benefit from the following activities:

– physical activity
– Meditate
– relaxation therapy
– talk therapy
– Observe good hygiene

The following tips can reduce your risk of contracting bacteria and viruses that can cause stomach upset and diarrhea:

– Wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet
– Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing and eating food
– Cook the meat well
– Avoid sharing personal items, such as E.g.: kitchen utensils, toothbrushes, razors, towels

* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.

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