Need to Poop? Natural and Home Remedies to Relieve Constipation

Medically Reviewed By Youssef (Joe) Soliman, MD
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When you need help pooping, having prunes on hand and positioning your body may be the answer. Prunes and other substances are natural laxatives, which can help relieve constipation. Constipation involves having fewer than three bowel movements per week or having poop that feels hard and painful to pass, says the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

Other symptoms of constipation include feeling bloated, sick to your stomach, or having a belly ache. The NIDDK estimates that about 16 out of 100 adults have symptoms of constipation.

Women, especially during pregnancy or after giving birth, older adults, and people who eat little fiber can be more likely to have constipation. Certain medications and health conditions, including functional gastrointestinal disorders, can increase the likelihood of constipation.

This article will discuss natural and home remedies to make you poop. It will also discuss how to make yourself poop immediately and ways to prevent constipation.  

Natural and home remedies

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Juan Moyano/Stocksy United

If you experience constipation and need to make yourself poop, the following natural and home remedies may help.

Squatting position

Squatting means raising your knees above your hips. You can use a small footstool to position your body in a comfortable squat position. This position can help you pass stool without straining.

Prunes  

Prunes and prune juice contain high levels of sorbitol and fiber. Sorbitol has a natural laxative effect. Eating prunes or drinking prune juice in the evening can help stimulate a bowl movement in the morning. Regular consumption can also help prevent constipation.

Senna

The leaves and fruit of the plant senna can help you poop naturally. You can purchase senna in liquid or tablet form. Like prunes, you can take senna before going to sleep so that its laxative properties work overnight. Long-term or overuse, however, can cause dependency or damage your digestive tract.

Coffee

According to a 2017 research review, coffee stimulates the lower part of the colon, and this may have a laxative effect in some people. While researches are unsure why this happens, it appears that caffeine can help you pass stool naturally.

A small 1998 study showed a direct effect of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee in stimulating activity of the colon. However, caffeinated coffee can be more effective. Coffee may induce a bowel movement in as little as 4 minutes, according to a 2020 review.

Additionally, the warmth of hot coffee causes the blood vessels in your digestive system to dilate. This may help stimulate a bowel movement.

Massage your colon

Sometimes, slow movement of stool through the colon can cause constipation. Manually massaging your colon may help you poop naturally. Follow these steps to massage your colon:

  1. Lie on your back and bend your knees upward.
  2. Using your fingertips, your palm, or your knuckles, gently press on your stomach.
  3. Starting from the lower right side of your stomach, massage clockwise circles.  

Over-the-counter remedies

Over-the-counter (OTC) remedies are other ways to help you poop immediately. You can choose from the following:

  • Fiber supplements: These add bulk to your stool. Adding bulk draws fluid into it, making it softer and easier to pass through your gastrointestinal tract. Fiber supplements can help manage and prevent constipation.
  • Stimulant laxatives: These work by stimulating the muscular intestines to contract, which encourages a bowel movement. Laxatives can take between 6–12 hours to work, so you may want to take them in the night before you go to sleep.  
  • Osmotic laxatives: These help move fluids through your colon. They usually work slower than stimulant laxatives. You can expect them to work within 2–3 days.
  • Enema: An enema manually instills fluid into the lower part of your rectum. This softens the stool enough to produce a bowel movement.

Learn more about enemas and stool softeners.

Remedies for children

Constipation is a health concern for children worldwide, with a prevalence range of 0.7–29.6%, according to a 2016 review. The following remedies can help your child have a bowel movement:

  • Sitting on the toilet at regular times: Encourage your child to sit on the toilet between 5–10 minutes after a meal to help stimulate a bowel movement. Provide a foot stool or potty trainer so they can squat comfortably.
  • Drinking sufficiently: A lack of fluids can make poop harder and more difficult to pass. Encourage your child to increase their fluid intake to soften the stool. Water in fruits and vegetables counts, too.
  • Having a warm bath: Warm water can relax your child’s abdominal muscles and stimulate a bowel movement.  

Get tips for toddler constipation.

Constipation explained

Constipation is when you have fewer bowel movements than usual for you. Your stools may be hard and dry. You may have difficulty pooping and feel that your bowels are insufficiently empty, explains the NIDDK.

One 2019 study showed the following constipation risk factors:

  • insufficient fiber intake
  • voluntarily avoiding the act of passing stool
  • lack of physical activity
  • genetic predisposition
  • stress
  • changes in routine
  • side effects of some medications:
    • iron supplements
    • opiates
    • calcium channel blockers
  • low socioeconomic status, a risk factor due to inequities in healthcare
  • spinal injuries
  • cancer

Occasional vs. chronic constipation

Occasional constipation lasts for a few days. Using home remedies or OTC laxatives brings on a bowel movement. Adding fiber to your diet, drinking more water, and engaging in exercise can help relieve occasional constipation.  

Chronic constipation lasts for weeks, months, or even years. With chronic constipation, home remedies, OTC laxatives, eating fiber, and engaging in exercise may not be enough to bring on a bowel movement.

If you have chronic constipation, you may need prescription medications to help you poop.

Read How Often Should You Poop?

When to see a doctor

If you have constipation and the above remedies and OTC treatments are not effective for you, contact your doctor about other treatment options. Your doctor may recommend prescription laxatives.

Talk with your doctor immediately if you have constipation with:

Learn what can cause constipation.

Tips for preventing constipation

A healthy gut microbiome, fiber, fluids, and exercise can help prevent constipation.

Build a healthy gut microbiome

Thousands of bacterial microorganisms live in your gut. These bacteria digest the fiber you consume. They then create short-chain fatty acids that promote gut health and prevent constipation. Eating beans, lentils, split peas, and chickpeas can help these beneficial bacteria with a sufficient supply of resistant starches and fiber.

Eat a high fiber diet

Eating foods that are high in fiber can increase the bulk in your intestines and make it easier for the intestines to move it along. Foods that are high in fiber include:

  • whole-grain bread, pasta, or cereal
  • oats
  • brown rice
  • fruits, especially kiwis
  • vegetables, especially beets

Add more moisture

Adequate hydration helps the fiber in your diet do its job — keeping bowel movements regular. Your daily water intake is all the moisture your body takes in from the foods and beverages you consume.

According to a 2021 article on chronic constipation management, drinking 1.5–2 liters of water per day is a first line treatment. Consuming mineral waters high in magnesium sulfate is even more beneficial, as it acts as an osmotic laxative.

Exercise

Taking a brisk walk or engaging in aerobic exercise can raise your metabolic rate, stimulate the lower parts of your digestive tract, and encourage a bowel movement. A small 2019 research review showed that exercise significantly improved the symptoms of participants with constipation.

Learn more about constipation prevention.

Frequently asked questions

Youssef (Joe) Soliman, MD, reviewed the following questions.

What can make you poop immediately?

A saline enema, including a sodium phosphate such as Fleet Enema, can cause a bowel movement within 1–5 minutes. An enema with docusate, a stool softener, can usually make you poop within about 20 minutes.

Summary

Constipation involves having fewer than three bowel movements a week. If you have constipation, your poop can be hard and possibly painful to pass.

Prunes, coffee, and squatting can help produce a bowel movement. Building a healthy gut microbiome can help prevent constipation. Contact your doctor if you experience symptoms of constipation and they do not go away with self-care.  

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Medical Reviewer: Youssef (Joe) Soliman, MD
Last Review Date: 2022 Sep 19
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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