What happens to your body if you hold in your poop

Everybody poops, but it’s not always convenient to poop when the need arises — such as when you’re in a business meeting, while you’re sitting in traffic, in the checkout line at Target, out at a restaurant dining with your friends, or teaching a room full of first graders. While waiting for the opportune time to poop is kind of a thing that a lot of people do on a somewhat regular occasion, you might wonder if it’s really a bad thing to hold in your poop. 

You do have the ability to pick a convenient time to empty your bowels, thanks to a specific muscle located near the anus called the sphincter ani externus (via Britannica). When you’re ready to poop, you sit on the toilet, relax the muscle, and the pooping begins. This also means that you can hold off on pooping for awhile, too, until you’re not busy, your social situation clears out, or you get home.

Is it bad to hold in your poop?

Problems can arise, though, when you put off your bathroom visit for prolonged periods of time. According to Columbia University’s Go Ask Alice, keeping your feces tightly packed away inside for too long can lead to a bevy of uncomfortable (and potentially hazardous) problems.

Basically, if you don’t poop when you need to within a reasonable amount of time (several hours or so), you can become constipated. This is because one of your colon’s jobs is to absorb water from your stool. The longer you hold your poop inside, your colon stays busy and continues to leach water from your poop the whole time — without any concern for your comfort. By the time you hit the toilet, all that’s left are some hard and dry pebbles to try to release into the pot. 

Holding in poop can have serious consequences

Constipation can lead to hemorrhoids, which is painful. They can be itchy and can also bleed. If the problem gets bad enough, you can also experience anal fissures. Anal fissures are tiny tears around the anus which can hurt and can also result in bloody stools. And finally, if you withhold pooping on the regular, your anal sphincter can kind of give up and lose its ability to completely relax, which can set up you for further pooping problems.  

While pooping can feel like an embarrassing experience in certain situations, it’s always best to go as soon as humanly possible. This means that it’s a terrible idea to wait a whole day because you’re hanging out with friends or don’t feel comfortable pooping around your significant other. Pooping is a normal and extremely vital human experience, so don’t hold it in — you might eventually regret it.

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