bowel movement

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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 ?
Caesarean section is one of commonly done procedure in Obstetrics and Gynecology department everywhere in the world and it is common practice to with hold food for 24 hours or till return of bowel movements after caesarean section.
Constipation is defined as bowel movements that are infrequent or difficult to pass.
The resulting agony can prompt people to try to postpone a bowel movement, which only complicates matters by making the stool harder and more difficult to pass.
The longer the stool stays in the colon, the harder and larger it gets, making bowel movements painful.
Subjects in group 1 were scheduled to chew gum for 30 minutes three times a day until their first bowel movement.
When it's time to have a bowel movement, all these muscles must relax so the stool can pass through the anus.
Do not expect to have a bowel movement every day or even every other day.
The mother recorded on the log every bowel movement during the study period, recording the stool color based on a color chart that was provided.
Symptoms may also include feeling as if a bowel movement was incomplete, abdominal bloating or fullness, hard stools, excessive straining with bowel movement, stools that are small or insufficient in size, and difficulty or pain when passing a stool.
In his on-going discussion of the selling of constipation, he seems to be claiming that the public was duped into the false belief that a daily bowel movement was necessary for continued good health by misguided doctors, well-meaning health reformers, and greedy pitchmen.
The voluntary relaxation of the external sphincter allows a bowel movement.