how to hold your poop, is it bad to hold in poop
Gemma Fischer
Gemma Fischer
May 26, 2024 ·  4 min read

How to Hold Your Poop: Here Are 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t

If you’re going to eat, you’re going to poop; it’s just a natural biological function that everyone faces in life. However, not everyone is willing to share the sordid details of their bowel movements. In fact, new studies have shown that many people are uncomfortable talking about bowel movements (which might explain the startling number of people who search “how to hold in poop” online).

In many cases, people hold off defecating until it’s convenient for them. Some people even have a medical condition called parcopresis, or the inability to defecate when other people are perceived or likely to be around, but can holding your poop be unhealthy?

How to Hold Your Poop? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t

It’s perfectly fine for you to hold in a bowel movement because of circumstances, such as when you’re in a meeting, or on a date; however, you shouldn’t do it all the time. The colon functions best when your body says it’s time to go. But for whatever reason, if you do decide to hold it, the feces will return to the colon where it will absorb more water until you finally empty it.

Constipation occurs when the colon absorbs too much water if you hold your stools for long. The longer you’re holding the feces in your colon, the more that water is absorbed, leading to dry, hard, and compact stools. This may lead to more serious conditions, such as colon damage resulting from the effort and strain of excreting it later on.

Is it bad to hold in your poop habitually? Yes. It may result in distended bowels (a portion of the large intestine that has become swollen), or impacted bowels (a large lump of dry, hard stool that becomes stuck in the rectum), which lead to life-threatening conditions. It can also cause rectal prolapse, the result of the rectum stretching the anal muscle, leading to fecal incontinence.

7 Poop Facts You Should Know

how to hold your poop

Generally speaking, feces are waste matter and bacteria discharged from the bowels after the food has been digested. Typically, the time it takes for food to pass from your stomach and small intestine into your colon takes an average of six to eight hours. It then spends about 40 hours, for further digestion and absorption of water before it is finally excreted from the body. The time varies between individuals and it takes women longer than men (About 30 hours for men, and 45 hours for women).

1. Frequency Varies from Person to Person

People are different, and when it comes to passing stools the normal range spans a couple of times a day, to once every three days. Although anything less than three times a week is abnormal, any pattern is healthy as long as the frequency doesn’t impact your quality of life.

2. Poop Smells

Poop stinks. However, the degree by which it smells can be reduced by your diet. Science and our own noses have shown that herbivores have less smelly stools than carnivores, so the more vegetables you eat, the less your stools will smell. But be wary of really foul smelling stools, there may be an underlying medical condition that is causing you not to digest food properly.

3. You Don’t Have to Cleanse Your Colon

Is it bad to hold in your poop? Yes if you do it often. So does it mean you have to cleanse your colon? No, your colon doesn’t need cleansing. Cleansing depletes the healthy bacteria normally found in your colon. A prolonged cleanse can lead to bloating, cramping, electrolyte abnormalities, and nausea. Your colon is meant to have feces in it all the time. Unless your colon needs a cleanse for medical reasons (colonoscopy), you’re better off leaving it alone.

4. Poop Consistency Varies

No, it’s normal for people to have a range of types which are classified on the Bristol Stool Scale from hard little pellets to liquid. None of the types are bad for you unless you’re straining or worrying about making it to a bathroom in time. The only problem is if your poop is consistently skinny. It could be a sign of colon cancer or hemorrhoids.

5. Floating Poop Is Not Normal

Floating stools can appear if you have an infection. If you notice your poop is floating every time you go, make an appointment with a doctor. Floating stools that smell especially bad could be the result of severe malabsorption. However, occasional poop that floats is nothing to worry about. Increased gas in the stool allows it to float, and if you eat something that causes a lot of gas, poop will float; it’s just a reflection of your diet for the day.

6. Pooping Shouldn’t Take a Long Time for No Reason

The time people spend in the restroom can vary along people’s routine. If you happen to be a reader, you may just want to finish up the chapter you were reading. Other people may get distracted with their iPhone or get caught up with an interesting article in a magazine. However, if you’re spending a long time in the bathroom staring, you’ll want to talk with your doctor about the possible causes and solutions.

7. Poop Doesn’t Always Have to Be Brown

Poop color sometimes depends on what you have eaten; and unless you have consumed beets or cherries, if your stools become black, purple, or red, indicating the possibility of blood, you’ll want to see your doctor. Other colors to look out for include pale or clay-colored stools that may indicate a bile duct blockage, something you’ll want your doctor to know. However, the color may change occasionally for perfectly normal reasons. You may observe green or yellow stools resulting from bile secretions, but this is nothing to worry about, and it should clear up by the next visit to the restroom.

how to hold your poop