There you are, in an important business meeting with even more important people. The chatter is constructive, so your boss decides to extend things. Everyone agrees, and the meeting proceeds without a time limit. But then you feel the urge, one that begins slowly in your stomach and increases in strength as it sails toward your butt.
You need to poop.
You consider excusing yourself, but this meeting with these people could easily be a once-in-a-career opportunity. Leaving the room, even for a few minutes, could mean missing out on a big promotion.
So you hold it, and pray to God that the meeting will end soon.
Anyone with a butt has been in a situation similar to this, and as we previously reported, holding in a poop can contribute to both constipation and anal agony. But everyone needs to hold one in at some time or another, so how much time do you have, once the urge strikes, before sh*t hits the fan — or more aptly, your underwear?
The answer, according to the experts, is basically none at all.
“The reason being that the urge to move one’s bowels comes from the colon muscles revving up and pushing stool downstream into the rectum,” explains gastroenterologist Anish Sheth, co-author of What’s Your Poo Telling You? “You want to use that momentum to effortlessly evacuate. When you hold it in and that propulsion dies down, it becomes harder to have a satisfactory bowel movement.”
Primary care physician Marc Leavey confirms this, simply saying, “As soon as possible would be best.”
Now, holding in a poop for a few minutes won’t immediately lead to constipation, but the longer you hold it, the less pleasant that pooping experience will be. In other words, it’s basically a ticking time bomb. “Repeatedly holding things in for a long time, like in long-distance truckers, can cause chronic constipation,” Sheth warns. “The rectum stretches out over time, and people don’t feel the urge to go.”
So unless you want a permanently widened rectum, holding in a poop is a technique best saved for emergencies only. As for whether this important business meeting is one of those emergencies, that’s up to you and your butt, amigo.