What Happens When You Hold in Your Poop

February 14th 2016

What happens when you hold in your poop? A lot of weird shit (pun intended).

We've all had the urge to go but sometimes we delay our body's natural desire to empty out our bowels. But ignoring this call from mother nature could be more harmful than you think.

Pooping is your body's natural way of removing waste in your system, so its crucial to empty your bowels regularly to maintain a clean bill of health.

Your poop is made up of 75 percent water along with a mixture of bacteria, protein, undigested food, waste material from food, cellular linings, fats, salts, and mucus.

The large portion of water is there to easily slide the stool through the body and out of the rectum. But if you deny the urge to defecate, the stool remains in your body and your body absorbs the water from the stool. This causes the stool to dry out and thus harder to pass. The result? Constipation. Once constipated for a long time, stools can pile up in your system, according to a video by Discovery News.

In the video, the host Amy Shira Teitel explains that constipation often happens when you travel, because it disrupts your natural rhythm. "You might be on a plane and choose to hold it in instead of braving the airplane toilets," Teitel explained in the video.

"Konstantin Monastyrsky, author of 'Gut Sense,' says holding in your poo, even once, is dangerous, because it allows stools to build up. As they dry out, they block your system, and can lead to an impacted bowel," she continued.

An impacted bowel can also lead to pain, vomiting and a trip to the hospital, according to Women's Health magazine.

The longer poop sits in your system after you felt the urge to empty your bowels, your body holds onto toxins and poisons that otherwise would have been flushed away through the passage of feces, according to Medical Daily. In addition, this can "disrupt the healthy bacteria in your digestive system and raise your beta glucaronidase levels--an enzyme that prevents your body from cleaning out the natural hormones and chemicals it absorbs from the environment."

However, if you must hold it, once or twice may not be that bad, according to Prevention magazine. But still, it is encouraged that you try to empty your bowels when duty calls.

"We've found people who hold their poop longer because of their profession — nurses, teachers, or truck drivers, for example, or people who are afraid to go at work — can get into bad habits that cause constipation or dysfunction in the muscles used for pooping," Kyle Staller, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital told Prevention magazine.

How often should you poop?

It varies.

If you don't have a bowel movement everyday, no need to worry. The important thing is to have a bowel movement and remember that it takes 24-72 hours for food to process and exit the body through the colon, according to LiveStrong.

"At the end of the day, we define anything less than three times a week as abnormal," Staller told Prevention magazine. "But any pattern can be healthy as long as your frequency doesn't impact your quality of life."

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