How to Make Yourself Poop When You're Feeling Backed Up, According to Experts

Don't just cross your fingers and hope you magically drop a deuce. Instead, steal these expert-approved tips on how to make yourself poop in just a day or two.

How to Make Yourself Poop
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Digestion is a complex process, one that's easy to disrupt if you eat the wrong thing, experience excess stress, or even just shift your daily habits slightly. Vacationing in a new place, for example, can leave you feeling backed up, as can not drinking enough water.

Regardless of the reason for your constipation, though, there are plenty of at-home tricks you can use to get your number two schedule back on track. Here, gastrointestinal experts share their best strategies for how to make yourself poop when you're feeling plugged up.

What Is Constipation?

Before diving into how to make yourself poop, it's important to outline what a healthy poop schedule looks like, exactly. "Every body is different, but on average, as long as you poop between three times a day and three times a week with solid stools, and you feel as though you are completely evacuating your bowels without excessive straining, there's no cause for alarm," says Paul Johnson, M.D., a colon and rectal surgeon at Methodist Medical Group in Memphis, Tennessee.

If you experience shifts in your regular poo routine, however, you may be constipated. To get nitty-gritty, there are a few specific criteria created by the Rome Foundation (a nonprofit focused on functional GI disorders) that can help you determine if you're experiencing functional constipation, or chronic constipation that isn't clearly caused by an anatomic abnormality or disease. The symptoms of functional constipation include having fewer than three bowel movements per week, straining more than 25 percent of the time, having hard stools more than 25 percent of the time, experiencing incomplete evacuation or sense of blockage more than 25 percent of the time, and needing to use your hand to pass the bowel movement at least 25 percent of the time, says Dr. Johnson. The good news: Constipation lasts a short time and is not serious in most cases, according to the National Library of Medicine.

9 Ways to Make Yourself Poop

So, what's the solution for how to make yourself poop? If you've simply been feeling backed up for the last few days or your regular poo schedule has been thrown off track, here are a few tricks you can try at home to help you drop that deuce.

Increase Your Fiber Intake

You've probably heard this one before, but fiber can help keep you regular because it "bulks up and attracts water into the stool, making it softer," says Mike Hoaglin, M.D., a medical adviser for DrHouse who specializes in gut health and the microbiome. More specifically, there are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble,both of which are an important part of your diet. "Insoluble fiber cannot be digested by the body and serves to bulk the stool, which allows for softer and easier-to-pass stool," says Dr. Johnson. "Soluble fiber has benefits as well. It turns into a gel-like substance that acts to slow down digestion making you feel fuller for longer. Soluble fiber also feeds healthy bacteria in the colon." Plus, nonfermentable soluble fibers (such as psyllium) absorb and hold onto water in the large intestine, so they can help prevent constipation and soften hard stool, according to information published by Oregon State University.

To score those benefits, you should aim for 14 grams of dietary fiber per 1,000 calories consumed, per the United States Department of Agriculture, and the first way to do that is through your diet. Aim to get fiber during every meal and snack by munching on fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, and seeds, adds Dr. Johnson.

Try a Fiber Supplement

If you're struggling to hit that USDA fiber recommendation through food, you may consider taking a fiber supplement, such as Metamucil, Fibercon, or Citrucel, as a concentrated source of the nutrient, says Dr. Hoaglin. When using these supplements, remember to stay on top of your water intake, says Dr. Hoaglin. Without consuming enough H2O or other fluids, fiber may lead your digestive system to slow down too much, potentially causing constipation, bloating, or nausea, Ashley Munro, M.P.H., R.D., a registered dietitian and certified intuitive eating counselor in Tucson, Arizona, previously told Shape.

Though fiber supplements may help you poop, they shouldn't be your first course of action. "A fiber-rich diet is always better than supplementation," says Dr. Johnson. "The latter lacks vitamins, minerals, and other naturally occurring nutrients found in whole foods." Plus, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn't approve dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness or their labeling before they're sold, so you may not be getting exactly what's marketed. Your best bet? Stick with "a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds," he adds.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration is a common cause of constipation, so it's important to drink enough fluids to keep your stool moving. "The colon's major function is to absorb water and change the liquid stool that enters from the small intestine into a solid stool that is passed out," says Dr. Johnson. "If you don't drink enough water, your body will try to hold on to every bit it can, which then makes the stool dry and hard and results in constipation."

In general, you should aim to drink at least six to eight glasses of water per day, but you'll want to consider the environment you're in, too, says Dr. Johnson. "When you lose water, whether from increased activity or perspiration in warm climates, it's important for you to rehydrate by drinking plenty of fluids," he continues. You'll want to take in an extra 16 ounces of fluid for every pound of sweat you lose (think: after a workout or a summer beach day), Molly Kimball, R.D., C.S.S.D., a registered dietitian at Ochsner Fitness Center in New Orleans, previously told Shape.

Add Some Hemp Seeds to Your Diet

Hemp seed soft capsules have been used to treat constipation in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and they may improve transit time and increase stool water content, says Dr. Hoaglin. To potentially help you go poop, try taking a hemp seed capsule or oil, he suggests. Not a fan of supplements? Try adding hemp hearts — unshelled hemp seeds — to your fiber-rich crunchy salads or morning oatmeal.

Amp Up Your Probiotic Intake

Probiotics — live, beneficial bacteria that naturally live in your gut and elsewhere in the body — can also be included in your "how to make yourself poop" toolkit. "[They] help balance the gut microbiome, improving transit time and stool consistency," says Dr. Hoaglin. And research backs this up: A 2022 study found that probiotic compounds can promote bowel movement, improve bowel movement frequency, increase the number and weight of stools, and effectively alleviate constipation. You can increase the number of probiotics in your system by eating fermented foods and drinks, such as yogurt, tempeh, kombucha, and kefir, according to the Cleveland Clinic. You can also take a probiotic supplement containing Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species, types that are the most commonly studied and may have a positive influence on your bowel movements, says Dr. Hoaglin.

Switch Up Your Potty Posture

One easy tip on how to make yourself poop? Position yourself a bit differently on the toilet. "Squat instead of sit," suggests Dr. Hoaglin. To do this, you'll want to raise your feet off the ground and bring your knees close to your chest. Yes, foot stools such as the Squatty Potty make this simple, he adds. The way this works is simple physics: A squat position "unkinks the colon, creating a straighter exit," he says. "Sitting is thought to create a kink in part of the large intestine, making you have to work harder to poop."

Stick to a Schedule

If you usually poop whenever you can, regardless of the time of day, you may want to plan out your number twos. "A regular schedule keeps you regular," says Dr. Hoaglin. To further increase the odds you drop a deuce, consider hitting the toilet in the morning. "Movement of the colon is most active after waking and eating, [so] try to have regular bowel movements in the morning," he says. This could improve your digestion over time, as the urge to poo first thing in the a.m. may become a conditioned reflex, says Dr. Hoaglin.

Exercise Regularly

Movement is important for keeping everything in your G.I. tract, well, moving. In fact, "​regular exercise is associated with lower rates of constipation," says Dr. Hoaglin. One possible explanation for this is "that the body movement and abdominal muscle contraction stimulate gut motility [re: movement of food within the G.I. tract]," he adds. To keep your dinner moving through your digestive system and help you poop, aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per day, says Dr. Johnson.

When All Else Fails, Take an Over-the-Counter Laxative

If tweaking your diet and incorporating supplements into your routine isn't helping you poop, you can try taking an over-the-counter medication on a short-term basis (re: one week, max). An osmotic laxative, such as Miralax, "pulls water into the intestines, moistening the stool and triggering intestinal contractions" to help you have a bowel movement, says Dr. Hoaglin. A stimulant laxative, such as Senna and Dulcolax, on the other hand, works by triggering intestinal contractions, which increases the force against any stool in your digestive tract and helps push it out, he explains. And a stool softener, such as Colace, helps moisten stool and lubricate the bowel wall so it's easier to pass, he adds.

Dr. Johnson agrees that these medications can be useful if lifestyle changes alone aren't relieving your constipation, but he warns against taking them for prolonged periods. "The use of daily laxatives is not normal or advised and may actually harm the bowel," he says. "Regular laxative use can lead to dependency, or the inability to defecate without the aid of a laxative. Also, the gut is an important regulator of electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and chloride. These salts are important to maintain normal bodily function. Laxatives can cause an imbalance of these electrolytes, which may lead to abnormal function of nerves, the heart, and other muscles." If you have a chronic digestive condition, you should also check with a physician before taking a laxative, as certain types may be better options for you than others, according to the UK's National Health Service.

How Long Does It Take to Make Yourself Poop?

Remember: Everyone's digestive system is different, but lifestyle changes should help you poop fairly quickly. "With increased hydration and integrating a high-fiber diet, you should start to see positive changes in your bowel habits in one to two days," says Dr. Johnson. "When beginning fiber supplements, some people notice abdominal bloating and gas; however, this usually subsides after the first few days." If you're experiencing discomfort and don't feel able to wait a couple of days to pass a stool, you can try taking a bisacodyl (aka Dulcolax) or a sennoside (aka Senna) laxative, which generally can induce a bowel movement within 15 minutes to an hour, he adds. (

When to See a Doctor If You're Struggling to Make Yourself Poop

If you tried some of these home remedies and are still experiencing constipation, consult a healthcare provider to pinpoint the exact cause and the best treatment methods to help you poop. On the same token, you should chat with your doctor if you're experiencing certain uncomfortable symptoms. "Your best indication that something is wrong is likely going by symptoms such as upset stomach, abdominal pain, and straining while defecating," says Dr. Hoaglin. "If your bowel habits are causing you significant distress or they are impairing your social, work, or family life, you should seek medical attention."

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