bowel movement

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

bow·el move·ment (BM),



The discharge of feces from the rectum.
Synonym(s): movement (3) , defaecation.
[L. defaeco, pp. -atus, to remove the dregs, purify]

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

bowel movement

DEFAECATION. The normal frequency of bowel movement varies between three times a day and three times a week.

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
References in periodicals archive ?
Unless diarrhea is a cause, measures to soften the stool and promote regular bowel movements are most helpful.
In contrast to incontinence, continence is the ability to control bowel movements.
They add bulk to stools, which helps make bowel movements easier.
In addition, the urge to have a bowel movement should not be ignored.
The three-arm study evaluated two doses of oral telotristat etiprate -- 250 mg and 500 mg, each taken three times daily -- against placebo over a 12-week period and measured the reduction from baseline in the average number of daily bowel movements.
Washington, October 10 ( ANI ): Patients who drink coffee rather than water after bowel surgery to remove a part of their colon experience a quicker return to bowel movements and tolerance of solid food, researchers say.
Medically speaking, individuals are considered to be constipated if bowel movement frequency is fewer than three times per week and/or if straining is experienced with more than 25% of bowel movements.
acknowledges that when a woman removes a tampon, has a bowel movement, or strains with constipation, a "NuvaRing can be accidentally expelled" into the toilet.
They have to smear a small sample of bowel movement on a card and then return the sample for testing at Rugby's Hospital of St Cross.
Namerow and others stress that it is not necessary to have a bowel movement every day.
The stool then passes through the colon by a delicate pattern of movements to the rectum where it is stored until a bowel movement occurs.
A CSBM is defined as a bowel movement that occurs in the absence of laxative usage within the preceding 24 hours accompanied by a patient's self-reporting of a feeling of complete evacuation.