Skip to Content

Frequent bowel movements

Definition

There's not a generally accepted clinical definition for frequent bowel movements. Most people consider several bowel movements a day to at least be unusual, particularly if this pattern is a change from what's normal.

If the only change from your usual bowel pattern is the frequency of your bowel movements, an illness is unlikely to be the cause. In the absence of loose, watery stools, abdominal cramping or bloody stool (diarrhea), frequent bowel movements are usually related to your lifestyle.

Causes

If you're having bowel movements more often than usual, chances are you've made some change in your lifestyle. You may, for example, be eating more whole grains, which increases fiber intake.

More-frequent bowel movements could also be related to a mild, self-limiting illness that will take care of itself. If there are no other signs or symptoms, you're probably in good health.

When to see a doctor

Last updated: December 31st, 2017

© 1998-2018 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. Terms of use

Hide