A poll of 2,000 adults found 18 per cent don’t consider the frequency of their bowel movements to be ‘normal’.
And nearly a quarter (24 per cent) aren’t sure what to look out for when it comes to checking the health of their number-twos.
In fact, more than one in 10 (13 per cent) haven’t had a digestive symptom treated or diagnosed because they don’t feel they understand enough about their digestive system and how it works.
While 17 per cent fear doctors won’t take them seriously if they try and make an appointment to discuss their digestive symptoms.
The research was commissioned by Fybogel prior to the launch of its ‘touring toilet Cubicle Confessional’ which gives members of the public the opportunity to talk to a gut heath expert, in a bid to help them talk more confidently about their bowel habits.
The Cubicle Confessional will visit three UK cities with some of the highest rates for hospital admission for constipation – London, Northampton and Liverpool, with expertise provided by charity Guts UK.
Marguerite de Durfort, from Fybogel, said: “We know, for so many, the embarrassment that comes with ‘the poo chat’ can limit our understanding of our digestive system and stop us receiving the treatment we might need.
“We want to help people in the UK from suffering in silence and work towards breaking the ‘poo taboo’.
“With 55 per cent of the public feeling most comfortable talking about their bowel movements with a doctor, we hope people across our three locations can utilize our cubicle confessional to gain professional advice for their gut health symptoms – leading them to feel more open to discussing these issues and more comfortable about working towards finding a solution.”
The study also found three in 10 (29 per cent) of those who have suffered with digestive symptoms had increased stress levels related to their discomfort, while 26 per cent had trouble sleeping.
Another quarter (26 per cent) lacked energy in their day-to-day lives and 19 per cent felt their workplace productivity was affected.
But 58 per cent went as far as to say their digestive health has a direct impact on their mental health.
And 76 per cent feel there is a ‘poo taboo’ and people are generally embarrassed to talk about their bowel movements.
Nearly half (46 per cent) feel the poo-taboo has evolved because it’s an unattractive subject to discuss, while 36 per cent were taught it’s ‘rude’ to talk about it.
Another 25 per cent worry that sharing details about their bowel habits may also reveal things about their lifestyle choices.
Just over four in 10 (41 per cent) have turned to exercise to try and improve their digestive health, and 44 per cent have increased their fluid intake – with lifestyle changes being the first recommended line of treatment for constipation sufferers.
And 44 per cent have struggled with constipation, while 39 per cent have suffered from trapped wind.
Fybogel’s spokesperson, Marguerite De Durfort, added: “If we want people to take anything away from our research and touring Cubicle Confessional, it is that digestive symptoms are common.
“And people should not shy away from talking to those they feel most comfortable with – to family, friends, a medical professional, etc.
“Fybogel wants the nation to chat the poo taboo away.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.