Holding In Your Poo At Work Is Bad For You. A Doctor Explains Why

It’s about time we eradicate the embarrassment of pooing – especially in the workplace.

Bowel movements eliminate unwanted material and toxins from the body, and are a result of the digestive process. Regular bowel movements are a sign of a healthy gut.

While every person is different, having a bowel movement daily or several times a week is typical,” UCLA Health reports. 

Considering we all do it, why are people so embarrassed by pooing? An article published by Vice earlier this year explored the phenomenon. 

One person told the publication: “Pooing destroys the ego – it strips you bare.”

Another chimed in: “It’s disgusting, smelly and unhygienic. You can be as charming as you want, but if people hear you taking a shit, it rips all of that away.”

The embarrassment of going for a number two is unsurprisingly very prevalent in the workplace. And the issue is thought to mainly affect women.

An article published by Refinery 29 after the pandemic detailed the fact that one of the biggest concerns for adults returning to the office was going to the loo at work.

Anxiety around pooing in a public space, known as parcopresis, is “surprisingly common”, Dr Ben Disney, a consultant gastroenterologist at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire, previously told HuffPost UK.

Holding in your poo is not good for your gut

“Our bodies need to do their thing, and regardless of the reason you’re ‘holding in’ your poo, it’s not good for your gut,” said Dr Zoe Williams, an NHS GP who’s currently working with Activia.

In the short term, she suggests it’ll make you uncomfortable, bloated and you’ll likely need to pass gas more often “as your body isn’t happy keeping in what needs to get out”. 

In the long term, it can lead to unwanted health problems.

“Getting into the habit of holding a poo regularly can have some potential negative effects,” Dr Williams explained. “It can lead to constipation, as the body may reabsorb water from the stool, making it harder. This can lead to impaction of poo – where it gets stuck inside.”

Medical News Today reports holding in a poo can also cause stretching of the rectum or loss of sensation within the rectum, which could result in incontinence.

The author of a 2015 study also suggested that an increased faecal load in the colon may increase bacterial counts and create long-term inflammation of the colon.

Our digestive systems are influenced by everyday changing factors, which may affect when and how you go – but still, the question remains? How many times should you poo?

Healthline states that “as a broad rule, pooping anywhere from three times a day to three times a week is normal”. Typically, you’ll tend to go the same number of times, around the same time each day – although depending on what you’ve eaten, this may vary.