Why do naturopathic doctors always want to have the “poop talk” with their patients?


I love, love, love this question!! (Of course, I do… it’s about bowel movements, and I am, after all, a naturopathic doctor!)

Doctors often inquire about your bowel movements (BMs) because your response provides us with a great deal of information. The frequency, size, consistency, color, and odor of your stool and bowel movement(s) can reveal several clues. BMs reveal information about your overall health, the function of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, possible infectious agents, possible cancers, medication side effects, hydration status, and nutritional deficiencies.

Having ‘normal’ bowel movements or being ‘regular’ is generally how most people describe their stools and/or bowel function. It is not until the clarifying questions are asked about their BMs do they realize a) they really pay no attention to them at all or b) they really pay too much attention to them. Because descriptions provided by patients are still very subjective, a “visual stool guide” was developed as a medical aid to classify stool into seven different categories. This tool is called the Bristol Stool Chart and is very helpful to educate yourself so you can know what your stool is trying to tell you.

Remember, most everyone will have some variation within these categories, and being ‘regular’ really means that your stools are soft, yet, well formed, easily passed and basically have a non-offensive odor. ‘Regular’ frequency is considered to have BMs occurring anywhere from 1-3 times each day to 3 times a week.

The information contained in this article is for information and education purposes only and is not medical advice. Do not use this information as an alternative to obtaining medical advice from your physician or other professional healthcare provider. Always consult with your physician or other professional healthcare provider about any medical conditions you are experiencing. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, contact your local emergency services for help.


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