bowel movement

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bow·el move·ment (BM),

Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


The discharge of feces from the rectum.
Synonym(s): movement (3) , defaecation.
[L. defaeco, pp. -atus, to remove the dregs, purify]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012

bowel movement

Evacuation of feces from the gastrointestinal tract. The number of bowel movements varies in healthy individuals, some having a movement after each meal, others one in the morning and one at night, and still others only one in several days. Synonym: defecation


A persistent change in bowel habits should be investigated thoroughly because it may be a sign of cancer or inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract.

Bloody bowel movements may be caused by a variety of lesions in the upper or lower gastrointestinal tracts, including hemorrhoids, anal fissures, dysentery, bleeding diverticuli, arteriovenous malformations, inflammatory bowel diseases (such as ulcerative colitis), or cancers. Black (melenic) bowel movements may result from bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract but may be mimicked by other conditions, e.g., the use of iron supplements or bismuth-containing medications. Clay-colored stools are often seen in biliary obstruction. Constipation with a decrease in the caliber of stools may indicate a malignant obstruction of the large intestine.

Patient care

A history is obtained of the patient's usual bowel habits, and any change is documented. The patient is questioned and the stool is inspected for color, shape, odor, consistency, and other characteristics, as well as the presence of any unusual coatings or contents (mucus, blood, fat, parasites). Privacy is provided for the patient when using a bed pan, toilet, or bedside commode. The area should be ventilated or a deodorant spray used after the bowel movement to limit the patient's embarrassment and to reduce the discomfort of others sharing the area. The patient is taught the importance of fluid intake, diet, and activity to help prevent constipation, supportive therapies for diarrhea, and the importance of hand hygiene after toileting. The rationale for testing the stool for occult blood or other laboratory studies, if this is required, is explained.

See also: movement
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners

bowel movement

DEFAECATION. The normal frequency of bowel movement varies between three times a day and three times a week.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005

Patient discussion about bowel movement

Q. Can pregnancy cause an increase in bowel movements? After very long years now I am 7 wks pregnant with my first child and I have noticed that I'm having more frequent bowel movements during this pregnancy. They are neither loose nor hard out of the ordinary. My husband is little bit afraid of what’s happening with me. I too fear of it. I don’t want to loose him. Has anyone else experienced this, and is this normal? Can pregnancy cause an increase in bowel movements?

A. It is nothing to worry maria. It’s a usual happening during pregnancy. Here I am 13 weeks pregnant with my second child and I too experience frequent bowel movements (2-4/day). It feels as if I am not gaining any weight b/c everything that goes in goes right out. I know this is okay. Here we can get an expert's opinion on this. So don’t worry and comfort your loving and caring husband. My best wishes for your healthy first baby.

More discussions about bowel movement
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References in periodicals archive ?
When you are finished with your bowel movement, put down your paper or magazine and get off the toilet; avoid lingering to get to the end of the article you're reading.
Table 2 shows the Mean, standard deviation and p value of time to return to bowel movements, regular diet, duration of intravenous fluids and hospital stay for group A and B.
* Don't put off bowel movements. Delaying a trip to the bathroom can contribute to or worsen constipation.
Major finding: Treatment with nalox-egol was associated with a significantly shorter time to first spontaneous bowel movement, a significantly greater number of spontaneous bowel movements, and an increase in the mean number of days per week with one or more spontaneous bowel movements, compared with placebo.
This remedy is often very useful with children and the elderly and is associated with constipation that may last for days or weeks, and is due to dryness and inactivity of the intestines where stools accumulate and are very difficult to evacuate, often reducing the desire for a bowel movement. Inactivity of the bladder may also be seen here, as well as general dryness of mucous membranes and skin, debility, and a sluggish metabolism.
If you've ever noticed bright red blood on toilet tissue or in the bowl after a bowel movement, chances are it is a small tear in the rim of the anus.
In a study involving more than 600 subjects, 40 percent of those who took rifaximin (500 milligrams) three times a day for two weeks had significant relief from bloating, stomach pain, and loose bowel movements, according to researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Oliva-Hemker says most children have functional constipation, meaning that it's not caused by a disease or an anatomic anomaly, and is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week for three, not necessarily consecutive, months in a year.
Symptoms associated with IBS include bloating, passage of mucus or straining with bowel movements, a sense of incomplete evacuation after bowel movements or a sense of urgency to move the bowels.
Every 24 hours, the occurrence of the first flatus and bowel movements was determined by an investigator asking the subject whether either of these two events had occurred within the last day.
More girls than boys reported straining when having a bowel movement while more boys than girls had staining of underclothes and the passage of large bowel movements.
The women completed the Colorectal-Anal Distress Inventory (CRADI) subscale of the Pelvic Floor Distress Inventory and a nonvalidated questionnaire asking them about their experience with fecal/flatal incontinence, painful bowel movements, other bowel movement difficulties, and the need for splinting.