Anon Poop Q
May 16, 2020 6:13 AM   Subscribe

So, when I have the urge to poop, I have to poop NOW. I don't have a lot of warning and I need to get to a bathroom fast. This is a problem, especially in the time of COVID where I can't just pop into a public restroom. The poop itself is otherwise pretty normal. Help me slow down the urge to poop.

So, basically my whole adult life, if I feel the need to poop, I need to poop within 5-10 minutes max, lest there be an issue of gross public embarrassment.

This is usually not a huge problem, bc if I'm out and about I have to go, I pop into a public establishment nearby to take care of business. But in the time of COVID, as a person who lives in an urban/dense area without a car or bike, where most public establishments are currently closed, just going for a walk is a scary prospect. Basically I feel limited to walk only in a circle around my house, lest I have to take a crap and shit my pants. I'm WFH and I want to get out of the house! I would love to go to the park that is a 30 minute walk from my apartment where the bathrooms are closed! But what if I have to shit?! You see the problem.

I have a balanced diet with a good amount of fiber and water, not too much not too little. I poop at regular, though not necessarily predictable, intervals. I hold off on caffeine if I think I might want to go somewhere there isn't a bathroom (I average a single cup in the morning anyway). I've tried not eating for many hours beforehand--makes no difference. I'll try to force-poop before going out, but that literally has not once ever been successful. My poop, even when it's an emergency situation, still comes out like a normal poop (consistency-wise). I rarely suffer from diarrhea (unless I have a bug or food poisoning), and I haven't ever in my life been constipated. Overall, I think I have reasonable poop-health! But I CANNOT WAIT if the urge presents itself. And yes, I have gotten myself into some bad predicaments before because of this issue, so it's not all in my head.

Is there something wrong with me? Is there something I can do to prevent the the poops, or at least prolong the time between feeling the need and 'OH SHIT'? I really want to go walk beyond a 5 minute radius from my house at some point. HALP?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I know you say you don't have a bike, but could you afford to get one, and would you be able to bike back from the park quickly enough if needed?

Personally, if I eat a bunch of almonds or take magnesium it often makes me poop fairly soon afterward; maybe you could experiment with that.

Maybe this is a terrible suggestion, but if nothing else works, would an adult diaper make you feel safer?
posted by pinochiette at 6:30 AM on May 16

Or, why not just wait until you poop, and then go to the park? If you're working from home, would you be able to take a break at a random time during the day for your walk (or say you have a phone meeting)?
posted by pinochiette at 6:31 AM on May 16 [26 favorites]

I think pinochiette has the most practical advice.

Otherwise, do you find that walking stimulates your bowels? (I.e., are you more likely to feel the urge when walking than, say, sitting on your couch?) That’s a common reaction to exertion, brought about as I understand it by increased heart rate etc.

If this sounds like a factor for you, you might try to get more exercise so that a walk feels less taxing to your body. That might eventually help.
posted by shb at 6:39 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]

IANAMD but this could be a GI issue- have you been tested for IBS, celiac, crohn's? The initial blood test is not invasive and if it's not one if those three, it might be something else. Don't be embarrassed to go see s Dr about this, they have seen it all and can definitely help.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 6:43 AM on May 16 [8 favorites]

I've found that a lot of my distress has reduced by having a regular routine. My body got used to certain schedule, and then I can rely on it. That said - deviating from the schedule is difficult, but at least it's predictable!
posted by rebent at 7:24 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]

I don’t have an answer, but the medical term for this is “bowel urgency.” Googling, it seems to have a lot of potential causes, though it looks like the most common is IBS.
posted by FencingGal at 7:35 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]

I don't have specific suggestions but this is definitely doctor-worthy and potentially quite fixable - you don't need to arrange your whole life around it forever!
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:14 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]

Do a FODMAP elimination diet. The elimination diet itself is really un-fun, and you may discover that you have to give up something you find DELICIOUS, but it one good way to figure out if there's some specific food or foods that's doing that to you.
posted by aniola at 9:06 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]

Could it be that movement and exercise are triggering your bowels? I’d say to take a walk close to your house, then poop, and then take a longer walk. Or you could test it: after you poop, walk near your house again to see how long til you have to poop again. Build up more information and some confidence.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:56 AM on May 16 [8 favorites]

I had this issue postpartum with the later two of my three children. Pelvic floor strengthening exercises (i.e. kegels) were recommended by my doctor and PT, and I did find they helped.
posted by potrzebie at 10:50 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]

This could be anxiety-related (and indeed, I’m sure it is anxiety inducing, so at this point it’s kind of a cyclical situation!) If you haven’t before, consider chatting with your doctor about anti-anxiety medication. Getting on meds resolved a somewhat similar situation for me!
posted by Secretariat at 10:52 AM on May 16

When you try to go before you leave the house, what happens? You may have to go without realizing it.
posted by kapers at 11:07 AM on May 16

You may want to talk to a doctor about this, especially since it is impacting your life. Don't worry about embarrassment, they've heard it all before.

I got this exact same issue after my gallbladder removal, and I got prescribed some medication that helped tremendously. If I know I have to leave the house, I also try to jump start my poops with a brisk cup of coffee in the morning, so I can take care of business before I have to leave.

(Also - dairy makes things 10000x worse for me, which is sad, because I do love my ice cream.)
posted by spinifex23 at 12:08 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]

When do you normally poop? How many times a day do you normally poop? Do you drink coffee?

This happens to me every morning. I take a few sips of coffee and suddenly I'm rushing upstairs. I also have fairly normal poops, though I take medication known to cause diarrhea.

Coffee is known to cause people to poop. I drink it in the morning and I'm all set for the day. Can you drink some coffee to trigger a bowel movement in the morning, and then be set for the day? I agree that the best way to handle this is to not go out until you've gone to the bathroom. Decaf has the same effect, FWIW.

Good luck!
posted by Amy93 at 12:39 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]

Try to make an opportunity to poop early every morning, perhaps after a cup of a caffeinated beverage. Many people can habituate to this.
posted by theora55 at 1:43 PM on May 16

You could test a small amount of the over-the-counter medication loperamide (brand name Imodium), which slows movement through the intestines.
posted by yarntheory at 4:32 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]

Agree with spinifex23. This was a symptom of my gallbladder problems and I would get it checked out.
posted by raisingsand at 6:17 PM on May 16

Honestly, this sounds like some kind of medical problem. (However, I probably wouldn't go to a doctor about it at this point in time....)

I heard someone with a similar issue say that she takes Immodium when this comes on, if that helps any?
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:51 PM on May 16

This is common in post-partum women, and physical therapy helps.
posted by samthemander at 10:44 PM on May 17

if it's not a medical issue and just a "holding" issue I'd suggest practice holding. I worked from home for many years and every time I felt the urge to go I'd go... even the slightest urge I'd be like, "might as well" and I was going 8-12 times a day. I changed jobs and had to work in an office and they noticed I was leaving my desk quite frequently and for minutes at a time. I basically had to re-potty-train myself so that I wouldn't shit my pants every time I had a feeling. I basically did a have one, skip one deal. of course, practice at home so you can use the bathroom if the skipped one had to come out or if you.... misjudged your ability to hold. it only took a few weeks for my body/bowels to adjust and understand that every wave of bowel movement did not mean expell immediately. I've been down to 3-5 times a day with a good 30 to 90 minute warning window which makes it much more manageable.
posted by simplethings at 1:14 AM on May 18

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