Do you actually need to do a ‘number two’ every day? Science has the answer

Rob Waugh
Do you really need to go every day? Getty

Is ‘being regular’ a good indication of health – and should you worry if you don’t produce a ‘number two’ every morning?

Science site The Conversation attempted to answer this, asking five gastroenterologists how normal bowels functioned – and how often.

The answer is reassuring: there’s rather a lot of variation in what’s ‘normal’, and you don’t have to produce a perfectly formed stool every morning on demand.

The rule is ‘three and three’ – you’re within normal bowel frequency if you’re between three times a day and once every three days.


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One gastroenterologist describes this as ‘the Goldilocks zone for pooing’.

One study of 4,775 people with ‘normal’ bowel patterns found that 95% of people move their bowels between three and 21 times per week.

Gastroenterologist Christopher Hair said, ‘What is normal is well defined yet broad. In many studies into normal ‘healthy’ defecation, normal pooing ranges from three times per day to three times per week.

‘Less than 40% of healthy people poo once a day.

‘Pooing out of the normal for an individual might signify illness such as infection (pooing more) or cancer (pooing blood). Sometimes not pooing at all might indicate illness, such as a metabolic condition.’