Ask the Doctor – August 20, 2010

Q: What constitutes “regular” bowel movements? Typically,  I have a bowel movement only 2 or 3 times a week.

A: The concept of “regular” is quite individualized—bowel patterns are based on gender, age and diet. On average, men have more bowel movements per week than women. These differences may be related to the effect that sex hormones have on the digestive system. Also, as we age, the frequency of bowel movements typically decreases. Lastly, bowel patterns differ according to diet. People who have a diet high in fiber and low in fat tend to experience less constipation. If you deviate from your “regular” bowel pattern, develop abdominal discomfort, or experience unexplained weight loss or bleeding, contact your doctor right away to rule out any serious digestive problem.

Jennifer ChristieJennifer Christie, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine,
Director of Gastrointestinal Motility
Emory University School of
Medicine, Division of Digestive Diseases

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