How often should you poo and 4 other questions about toilet habits you're too afraid to ask | The Sun

HAVE you ever wondered how your toilet habits compare to the average Brit?

Well now you don't have to – a comprehensive survey conducted by health app ZOE has lifted the lid the Britain's bathroom habits.

It shines the spotlight on everything from how much the nation farts on average, to how much they poop and how long they spend on the loo.

Aptly named The Big Poo Review,some 142,768 UK residents aged 18 or older took part, including 110,627 women, 32,023 men and 118 people who identified as ‘other’.

It answered a slew of toilet questions you might have been too embarrassed to ask out loud – and here are your answers to all of them.

1. How often do Brits poo?

Health experts have long said there's no set amount of times you should be going for a number two each day or week – as long as you stick to what's normal for you, there's no reason to be concerned.

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Anything from three times a day to three times a week can be in the normal range – and ZOE's research showed that 92.7 per cent of Brits fall within that.

Over half (54 per cent) did a number two once a day, with about 60 per cent of Brits emptying their bowels after breakfast and 32.9 per cent just after waking up.

But about 17.1 per cent reported doing so at random times in the day.

And people between 18 and 32 pooed the most, an average of 1.72 times per day.

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2. How many of us get constipated?

Constipation was surprisingly common among Brits, particularly in women.

ZOE defined this as pooing three times a week or less and having hard lumpy poos.

Almost a fourth of Brits (21 per cent) said they were constipated, and 23 per cent of women were affected compared to 13 per cent of men.

Dr Will Bulsiewicz, ZOE’s US medical director and a board-certified gastroenterologist, said this could be because:

  • Women have longer bowel transit times, which is the time it takes food to move through your bowel
  • Female sex hormones – for example, progesterone – can slow bowel motility
  • Constipation is more common after menopause

3. How common is diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea is also fairly common but slightly more so in men.

Overall, 15.3 per cent of Brits said they got loose, mushy poos more than three times a day on a regular basis – 17 per cent of men reported doing so, compared to 14.7 per cent of women.

4. How long do we spend on the loo?

The Big Poo Review has found that, on average, we spend 3.53 minutes on the loo.

Men tend to spend longer sitting on the porcelain throne than women – 5.26 minutes, compared with 3.53 minutes.

And we spend less time on the toilet as we age, according to the Poo Review.

Those aged 18–32 spent the longest, with an average of 5.41 minutes. The oldest age group – 58 and over – spent just 3.68 minutes on the loo.

5. How often do Brits fart?

Finally, the study addressed how often Brits tend to pass gas. Though it's frowned upon to do it in public, ZOE said farting is natural and healthy.

According to The Big Poo Review, women fart an average of 8 times a day, and men break wind an average of 9 times a day.

It also found that the 18–23 age group break wind most often – 9.8 times per day -and those aged 58 or older fart the least – 7.3 times a day. 

Dr Bulsiewicz had a few tips if your flatulence disrupts your day:

  • Cut out straws, chewing gum or sweets, and carbonated drinks. Slow down at mealtimes, and have controlled swallows.
  • Make sure you’re not constipated. If you are, try a treatment. You’ll be amazed at how much your flatulence will improve. Check out the ZOE Science & Nutrition podcast on constipation for more information.
  • Reduce your intake of fermentable foods. A good place to start is to eliminate dairy products and artificial sweeteners. Sometimes, a doctor might suggest that you try the low FODMAP diet.
  • Add more probiotics to your diet. You could do this with fermented foods, including kefir and yoghurt. In some cases, a probiotic supplement can help, as well.

When might something be wrong?

As the survey suggests, poo habits can vary from person to person and there's no one way you should be going about your routine.

But if there any changes to your 'normal', it might be something to bring up with a doctor.

This can include changes in how frequently you're pooping or the consistency of your stool, and suffering from constipation or diarrhoea in a way that's unusual to you.

The changes could be caused by digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – which ZOE said affects about one in six Brits.

It can cause stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation, with symptoms coming and and going or lasting for days or weeks.

But in some cases, bowel cancer could cause a change in your poo habits.

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Everything causing a change in your bowel habits can be scary – they can be altered by how much water we're drinking or what we're eating.

NHS guidance recommends you speak to a GP if you notice a persistent change in your bowel habits for three weeks or more.

Symptoms of bowel cancer

The five main symptoms of bowel cancer are:

  • persistent blood in your poo for no obvious reason or bleeding from your bottom
  • a persistent and unexplained change in your bowel habit – usually having to poo more and your poo may also become more runny
  • loss of appetite or significant unintentional weight loss
  • extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • a pain or lump in your tummy

Though the exact cause of bowel cancer isn't known, there are some factors that can increase your risk:

  • age – nine in ten people with bowel cancer are 60 or over
  • diet – eating lots red or processed meats and little fibre can increase your risk
  • weight – it's more common in overweight or obese people
  • exercise – being inactive increases your risk
  • alcohol and smoking – both may increase your chances of getting bowel cancer
  • family history – if you have a close relative who developed bowel cancer under the age of 50, screenings are usually offered 

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