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. If you don't have loose, watery stools, abdominal cramping or bloody stool (diarrhea), frequent bowel movements are usually related to your lifestyle.
See your doctor if more-frequent bowel movements are also accompanied by any of the following signs or symptoms:
- Changes in the consistency, volume or appearance of your bowel movements, such as repeatedly passing narrow, ribbonlike stools or loose, watery stools
- Abdominal pain
- Blood or mucus in your feces
Nov. 14, 2020
- Wilkinson JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 9, 2017.
- Fiber. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/fiber. Accessed Oct. 22, 2020.
- Evaluation of the gatrointestinal patient. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/approach-to-the-gastrointestinal-patient/evaluation-of-the-gastrointestinal-patient?query=Evaluation of the GI patient. Accessed Oct. 22, 2020.
- Celiac disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Understanding celiac disease. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/celiac-disease. Accessed Oct. 22, 2020.
- What is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ibd/what-is-IBD.htm. Accessed Oct. 22, 2020.
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hyperthyroidism. Accessed Oct. 22, 2020.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome. Accessed Oct. 22, 2020.
- Diarrhea. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/diarrhea/all-content. Accessed Oct. 22, 2020.
- What is IBS? American Gastroenterological Association. https://gastro.org/practice-guidance/gi-patient-center/topic/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs/?hilite=%27stool%27%2C%27frequency%27. Accessed Oct. 23, 2020.