Some things are better on the weekends: The way your sheets feel when you wake up, the taste of your morning coffee and your mood. But you may also notice some downers, like — yep — how you can't poop on the weekends.
Digestive changes are common from weekday to weekend, gastroenterologist David Poppers, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at NYU Langone Health, tells LIVESTRONG.com. (GI habits also tend to change between working life and vacation, he adds. Hello, traveler's constipation.)
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It's all about the lifestyle and schedule shifts that occur from the typical Monday through Friday to Saturday and Sunday.
Of course, depending on your job or role in the home, your weekends might fall on different days. The following applies to any change from day-to-day life to more "off" time.
Here are some reasons you may be making fewer trips to the ceramic throne:
1. You’re Off Your Regular Schedule
One of the good things about the weekdays is that it can be easier to get into a poop routine. (Get up, drink coffee, have breakfast, go to the bathroom, get ready…)
During the weekends, there's not a set-in-stone schedule, which can throw you off. "Your body does, to some degree, adapt to the patterns we set," Dr. Poppers says.
Sleep is also a big factor here. Your sleep and poop patterns are linked, which is why most of us feel the urge to poop soon after we wake up. If you tend to wake up at the same time every weekday but sleep in on the weekends, your irregular sleep pattern could be to blame for your, well, irregular bowel movements.
2. You're Eating Different Foods
If you work during the week, you may have the time and opportunity for more novel eating experiences. Maybe you eat the same (or similar) breakfast every morning, bring lunch and then have a couple of go-to meals you make for dinner.
If the weekends bring multiple meals out where you're eating food you don't normally have in your diet, then you may find your BMs change — for better or worse.
For instance, how much fiber are you eating on a weekday versus weekend? A fiber-rich diet promotes regularity because it adds bulk that creates a more well-formed stool that's easier to pass, Dr. Poppers says.
If you're eating fewer of these fiber-rich foods on the weekend, your poops may change.
3. Your Stress Levels Shift
Do you feel on edge during the weekday and more laid back on the weekends? Stress (or lack thereof) can affect what's going on in the bathroom.
"Relaxation can affect the motility of food and waste products through your intestinal tract," Dr. Poppers says.
What's more, if you have irritable bowel syndrome, you may notice you feel these digestive sensations — and thus symptoms — more acutely depending on if you're in work or weekend mode, Dr. Poppers says.
Symptoms of IBS include changes in BMs to have more diarrhea, constipation or both, bloating, incomplete bowel movements and whitish mucus in the stool, says the NIDDK.
There are a lot of really good treatment options for IBS, including lifestyle changes and medications — so no matter who you are, you can get to a point where your body feels good no matter what day of the week it is.
4. You're Not Hydrating as Much
Do you keep a water bottle by your side at your desk at all times, sipping throughout the day? If that habit changes on the weekends, that's why it may be harder to poop now.
"Adequate fluid intake has a lubricating effect that helps keep things moving through your GI tract," Dr. Poppers says.
5. Your Physical Activity Habits Are Different
Some people thrive on a daily routine of exercise before or after work and can stay fairly consistent with it. Others are weekend warriors who fit in more activity on Saturdays and Sundays. Where you fall influences your BMs.
"We know bowel movements improve with increased activity," Dr. Poppers says.
So, if you tend to be more sedentary on the S days, that might be why you can't poop on weekends.
How to Stay Regular on the Weekends
For a happier poop session, keep these BM-friendly tips in mind:
1. Go When You Need to Go
Although having a poop schedule can help you stay regular, it shouldn't be at the expense of your body. So go only when you need to go.
In other words, don't sit on the toilet when you don't have to poop, which can promote hemorrhoids, and don't hold it in when you need to go, which can scramble the "gotta go!" signals in your body and make stool harder to pass, Dr. Poppers says.
"We want to make sure that your body learns when you need to go, you go, which is good biofeedback for your body," he says.
2. Use a Toilet Stool
Keep a toilet stool (one popular brand name is the Squatty Potty) in your bathroom and use it. This stool raises your feet to put your body "in the optimal position to have a bowel movement. It helps mimic a more anatomically appropriate angle, allowing muscles, like those in your pelvic floor, to have a good, complete BM," Dr. Poppers says.
3. Stay Hydrated
Make sure you're drinking enough fluids, which includes water.
According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, this is between 91 and 125 ounces of fluid per day (about 11 to 15.5 cups), with 20 percent of that coming from water-rich food.
4. Prioritize Fiber
Fiber helps your stool form well, which makes its exit more comfortable. Eating as much fiber-rich foods, which include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds and legumes, on the weekend as you do on your weekdays will help you stay regular.
What if You Only Poop on the Weekends?
Constipation is defined as fewer than three bowel movements per week, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). If you're only pooping on the weekends, you may have constipation.
Treatment for constipation includes eating more high-fiber foods (aiming for 22 to 34 grams of fiber per day), drinking adequate water, getting regular physical activity and having a consistent BM schedule, per the NIDDK.
You might also consider taking a laxative, such as a fiber supplement or stool softener, but talk to your doctor first about what option might be right for you.
When to See a Doctor
There are several red-flag BM-based symptoms that warrant a trip to the doctor ASAP, says the NIDDK. Those include:
- The presence of blood (in your stool or from your rectum)
- Constant abdominal pain
- Inability to pass gas
- Lower back pain
- Unintentional weight loss
- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: "Report Sets Dietary Intake Levels for Water, Salt, and Potassium To Maintain Health and Reduce Chronic Disease Risk."
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Symptoms & Causes of Constipation."
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Symptoms & Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome."
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.