I'm that friend/family member/weird acquaintance you have who loves to talk about poop. After all, bowel movements are something we literally all have (or all should be having) — and yet, as women especially, we are taught they are gross and unacceptable to discuss. Too many of us think we aren't even supposed to act like we have bowel movements, and far too many of us are afraid of pooping at the office, or anywhere in public. Well, I'm here to say: it stops with me.
Of course, I'm not completely shameless. I still get mortified when I have to go number two in certain social situations. Having to poop while on a date, in an inconveniently located restroom (powder room in the kitchen!? C'mon!), or in a public bathroom that has two stalls (no guessing needed to figure out who's pooping) is never fun. But as I've grown older, necessity has beat out embarrassment. Part genetics, part poop-madness, I have found that I will talk about poop — and actually poop — almost anywhere.
Maybe at this point I should mention I have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and like to partake in my fair share of booze — two of the reasons for the excessive amount of pooping. But even when my IBS is in check and I'm not hungover, I still gotta go whenever I gotta go.
I know there are people out there who avoid any bathroom that isn't their's at all costs. But that is just unacceptable to me. There is too much poop brewing in my 5'3" frame to not use a public restroom. Work bathrooms, port-o-potties, rest stop toilets, train/bus/plane bathrooms — you name it, I've pooped in it. I've seen a lot of things I can never unsee, but at the end of the day, I am a happier person for it.
So here's why I always poop in public bathrooms if I need to — and why you should do number two too.
1. There's no reason to feel ashamed
There are only a few things that all humans — regardless of gender — can say they do, and pooping is one of them. When I tell people how often I use the restroom for number two, they are part fascinated and part jealous (and I'm pretty sure, part disgusted). But it's time to get over the shame! I have done almost every embarrassing thing known to man in a bathroom — and I've survived.
I've clogged a house toilet after just meeting a group of people. I pooped so long in an office bathroom that the motion sensors turned the lights off. I've had all sort of body fluids leave me in all sorts of terrible ways. Of course, I could keep this to myself, but what's the point? We've seriously all had humiliating poop stories and instead of letting yourself be cloaked in shame, why not embrace the embarrassment and have a hilarious and relatable story to tell at a party?
2. It's bad for your health to hold it in
What your mother told you is true: it's bad to hold it in. "The longer stool sits there in your colon and rectum, the drier it gets. So as stool forms, usually it's wet like a sponge," as Dr. Travis Stork from The Doctors explains. "So as it travels through it can bend and mold and come out no problem. But the longer it sits there, the more water is reabsorbed into your body out of the stool, so it becomes hard. This is constipation . . . When this eventually comes out, it can actually tear your anus."
I know, it sounds terrible. But that's because it is terrible. So, seriously! Eat your fiber, drink your water, and don't resist the urge for too long — even if you have to use a public bathroom. As Dr. Stork said, "Regular bowel movements are better than no bowel movements."
3. Letting it loose makes you happy
People can act bashful about poops all they want. But I know there is a certain joy we feel when we have a really good poop. You feel a little lighter, you skip a little higher — life is good. In the book What's Your Poo Telling You? (which I, of course, own), author Josh Richman calls this sensation "poo-phoria." Dr. Anish Sheth explains that the poo-phoria is "The distention of the rectum that occurs with the passing of a large mass of stool causes the vagus nerve to fire. The net effect of this is a drop in your heart rate and blood pressure . . . When mild, the lightheadedness can lend a sense of sublime relaxation (the 'high')."
Now, you can just have a good old fashioned poop without having that "high" sensation, but regardless, letting loose of a deuce when it's needed makes you a much happier person.
4. There are apps to keep your mind off any creepiness
OK, so this is probably why there is fecal matter on cell phones, but I think of our cell phones and their apps as the new newspaper. More discreet and efficient, they offer a way to pass the time while you're taking care of business. So Candy Crush, Facebook stalk, or answer emails to your heart's content — it may just help take your mind off of the people who keep coming in and out of the public bathroom.
5. It's more polite to poop in the bathroom than it is to fart in public
Public bathrooms can be disgusting. I get it — I really do. There are some you walk into and immediately walk out of because of the stench, what's been left in the toilet before you, or general uncleanliness. But sometimes, when you avoid pooping, something potentially more embarrassing happens — you fart.
If I feel a fart coming on, I know it's time to suck it up and get to a bathroom. Plus, when times are really rough, a fart can lead to something much, much more. And as much as you don't want to be pooping in a public restroom, you really don't want to be pooping your pants in public.
6. It means you don't have to avoid certain foods
When you live the life of someone with IBS, eating food at a restaurant can be a crazy-stressful endeavor. You shouldn't have to live in constant fear during mealtime that you might have to poop after you eat (oh no, the horror!). If I need a cup of coffee to wake me up one morning at work, I shouldn't be scared that I'll have to poop instantly after (cause I 100 percent will). If you accept the fact that you may have to poop after eating Indian food or drinking PBR, and you're in a place with a restroom that can accommodate said poop, you're gonna be OK.
7. Because we're ladies
We drink, we poop. We eat, we poop. We cry, we poop — it's like an Alanis Morissette song. And ladies, there is one time of the month when pooping reaches an all-time high for me (and for many of you out there) — and that's period time. When I was young and naive, I thought it was just a coincidence. But now I know there are scientific reasons why I have such horrendous poop when I also have my period. Now, it's not even a question — if I'm in the heavy-flow stage of my period, I'm pooping. In any toilet I can find, no question.
8. Because many of us poop when we get nervous
Some people poop more when they're scared or nervous (guilty as charged). I've had to poop waiting in line for roller coasters, before going on stage to perform, or right before interviews and auditions — so really all of the times that it feels like it's the worst time to poop. (Apparently, I'm also very anxious.) But I'd rather take care of it in a public bathroom than chance it. Because as nervous as I am, I'm a lot less nervous when I'm also not worried about pooping my pants.
9. It's some much needed me-time
Embrace it, people! Don't be afraid to make the most of your bathroom experience. Get picky. And by that I mean, peruse the stalls. If you know you'll be in a public bathroom for the long haul, choose the cleanest stall and make sure there is plenty of toilet paper to avoid embarrassments. (First stalls are supposed to be the cleanest — just don't take it without considering the repercussions of your poop being the welcoming party to the bathroom.) Then get your phone out, and do your business. Think of it as a much needed break during your day.
10. There are products you can use for the smell
I'm not talking about old school Lysol that just makes it smell a million times worse (and still like poop). There are the in-toilet (and purse-sized) odor stopper products, like Poo-Pourri. Carrying a pack of matches almost always eradicates all poop smells too. If leaving a trace is your biggest fear, there are solutions.
11. Because this is a feminist issue
Of course, the scent of flowers coming from the bathroom definitely means you pooped, but I'm here begging you to accept your inner poop goddess. You were in the bathroom after all — what else would you be doing? Why is there a pressure for women to pretend they don't have bodily functions? I'll give you a hint: it rhymes with mo-pression.
When you walk out of the bathroom, hold your head up high. You've got a healthy colon, and that's something to celebrate — not to be ashamed of.
Images: Fotolia; Courtesy of Brendan Newell; Giphy (9)