You can probably relate to this scenario: You hightail it to the office in the morning because you’re on the verge of being late, sacrficing your normal a.m. toilet time. Unfortunately, you’ve never been comfortable enough to drop a deuce at work (seriously, why is someone always putting on their makeup while you’re on the bowl?!). So we went Keri Peterson, M.D., who practices internal medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, and asked the question: If you can’t poop at work, is it harmful to hold it in? (Heal your whole body with Rodale’s 12-day power plan for better health.)
The answer: Yep, but only if you feel the urge and ignore it. First, you can cause constipation. The longer the stool sits in your large intestine, the harder it becomes, which may mean discomfort and even bleeding when you finally let it out. Over time, you can get hemorrhoids or cracks in your rectal tissue, which can require creams, soaks, and even surgery. Exercising in the a.m. may help you poop before work, and eating fiber-rich foods like veggies for dinner can get things moving overnight, so you wake up ready to go. But when nature calls at the office—answer it. We all poop, so no shame!
This article was originally published in the November issue of Women’s Health, on newsstands now.