Look, sometimes you don’t have time to wait. Whether you want to poop now to be sure you won’t later, or you just need some relief, here are a few tricks that can help.
Drink a hot beverage
Coffee is notorious for its effect on the bowels, but it may not actually be the caffeine. Any warm or hot liquid may have a similar effect. So have a mug of tea or hot chocolate if you aren’t a coffee person.
Every time you eat, there’s a chain reaction in your gut. Your stomach makes room for the incoming meal by emptying what it can into the small intestine, and the small intestine empties what it can into the large intestine and so on.
If you’ve ever potty-trained a child or crate-trained a dog, you know that you can usually expect a bowel movement 30 minutes or so after mealtime. You can use this knowledge on yourself, too.
Exercise speeds the passage of food through the bowels. The longer digested food stays in your gut, the harder and dryer it becomes, so faster motion means it’s more likely to be soft by the time it’s ready to exit.
Any kind of motion may help, but aerobic exercise like jogging or cycling is often recommended. The bouncing motion of dance workouts or high impact workouts may help. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that specific yoga poses, even the ones touted as helping “digestion,” can have this effect.
Your gut works best when you’re sufficiently hydrated, so make sure you’re drinking enough water. (If you’re not thirsty, you’re probably good, but an extra glass or two won’t hurt.)
Have some fibre
Fibre, found in plant foods including whole grains and vegetables, makes your digestive system move faster. Meanwhile, the poop will be softer and easier to pass. That’s because fibre absorbs water, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water as you increase your fibre intake.
Fibre won’t make you poop instantly, but if you increase your fibre now, you’ll start to see the effects in a day or two. There are fibre supplements like Metamucil that you mix with water, or you can just eat fibre-containing foods. Beans, oatmeal, other whole grains, and most fruits and vegetables contain plenty.
Fibre is listed on nutrition labels (it’s a type of carbohydrate) so start reading labels and aiming for 25 to 30 grams per day.
A squatting position is sometimes more conducive to pooping than sitting on a toilet as if it were a dining room chair. Consider propping up your feet on a footstool, or just moving around a bit (leaning forward, leaning backward) to find the position that works best for you.
Talk to your provider
There are medical solutions as well, including different types of laxatives and stool softeners that are available over the counter. If you have trouble pooping on a regular basis — including if it’s always hard and lumpy or if you have fewer than three bowel movements a week — you may want to seek medical help.