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Why You Shouldn't Hold In Your Poop

Resisting the need to do Number 2 is bad for your health
by Neps Firmalan | Mar 3, 2016
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You need to go to the comfort room and make a "deposit." Too bad not one is accessible at the moment. The need is there but not really strong enough that you have to go on the spot, so you calmly hold it in and go along with your business, despite the discomfort.

We've all done this before. But here's the deal: Holding in your poop is bad for your health. Really bad.

Here's why...

Colon worries

When feces reaches the end of the digestive track, it sits inside your rectum, waiting to be discharged. However, if you postpone things, your feces goes back to your colon, where more water is absorbed from it, making it harder in the process. The longer you hold it in, the more strain you put on your colon, making it exert more effort in pushing your poop out (read: it's easier to push out when it's soft).

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In the long run, this can result to a swollen or bloated colon. In an article in, physician Spencer Nadolsky says, "Holding your poop can result in distended bowels and problems with normal stooling in the near future." He also warned that the bowels can even be reshaped over time.

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Mixed signals

When your poop reaches your rectum, signals are released that tell your brain to "let it out." Resisting the urge stretches your rectal muscles, sending another signal to not respond to it. This can lead to slower waste disposal and harder stool which, as we've said, is potentially bad news.

Blocking the way

In worse cases, holding your poop can result to an impacted (blocked) bowel, no thanks to the build-up of hard fecal matter that your body is having a hard time removing. This is one of the causes of chronic constipation. An impacted bowel might require surgery to remedy and, if left untreated, can be fatal.

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The accumulation of immobile waste material damages your bowels and can result to pain, which then leads to avoidance of defecating, perpetuating the process. And since feces is composed of both waste food materials and toxins, infection can also occur in the long run. "So holding in is bad. If you don't poo when you need to, all the waste and toxins are just sitting in there," warns Kyle D Staller, a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, in an article for


Dire consequences

You don't want to end up like Emily Titterington. The 16-year-old did not poop for eight weeks, and she died on February 8, 2013 as a consequence. Apparently, Emily had been suffering from bowel movement problems all her life, and had a severe fear of toilets—one of the reasons why she didn't heed nature's call.

According to a report in, she had a fatal heart attack caused by a bloated bowel. The "massive extension of the large bowel," explains pathologist Amanda Jeffery to The Independent, compressed her internal organs. The pressure was too much for her body.

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It's a natural thing

It's not as if we're surrounded by toilets 24/7, so resisting the need to "let it go" is a fact of life. But it's not dangerous as long as you don't do it always. "Holding in your poo on the rare occasion is fine, but [it shouldn't be] done all the time," reiterates the author of the book What Your Poo Says About You, Alison Chen, M.D.

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So the lesson here is, if you can, go and do Number 2. Don't make a habit out of keeping your waste products inside you. There's a reason your body wants to get rid of it.


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