There are few things in life that offer more relief than dropping a massive dump. But sometimes you have to hang up when nature calls. Perhaps you’re sharing a toilet with your significant other’s parents, or maybe you’re on a road trip with no rest stop in sight.
Now you’re wondering: How long can I go without pooping before my body rebels against me?
Shockingly, one woman went 45 days without pooping (and paid the price in the hospital). But as a rule of thumb, going five or more days without pooping can cause serious health issues that are way worse than stomach pain. But the answer isn’t always straightforward. Some DUDES are way more sensitive to constipation than others.
Read on to learn how long you can safely go without pooping, what happens when you hold it in, and how to start an emergency evacuation of your bowels if you enter the danger zone.
How Long Can You Go Without Pooping?
Generally speaking, you can go about five days without pooping before you run into the risk of serious health issues like fecal impaction, hemorrhoids, or a bowel perforation. That said, there isn’t a magic number of days to set a countdown for.
Every DUDE has different bowel habits, depending on your diet, genetics, and gut microbiome. However, most doctors agree healthy people poop somewhere between three times a day to three times a week. If you cross that upper threshold and have fewer than three bowel movements in a single week, you’re getting into the danger zone.
So if you’re staying with your in-laws for the weekend and you’re terrified of clogging the toilet or stinking up the bathroom, you’re allowed to hold it in. Just know that’s not ideal for your gut or your butt.
What Happens If You Don’t Poop?
Your body is designed to poop on a consistent schedule, so holding it in for longer than you’re used to can cause gut health issues—whether you’re plugging yourself up on purpose or not.
1. Abdominal Pain
The most obvious problem with holding in your poop is the most obvious: abdominal pain. Blocking a bowel movement causes a buildup of gas in your gut, which causes cramping, bloating, and sense of fullness.
2. Hard Stool That’s Even Harder to Pass
If you manage to hold in your poop for more than a few hours, the urge to crap will probably go away. But that doesn’t mean your feces have magically disappeared into the ether of your digestive system.
The longer you hold in your poop, the harder it gets. That’s because your colon absorbs the water that normally makes your stool soft and easy to push out. The result is hard stool which comes out as pebble poop (if you’re lucky to poop at all).
3. Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Holding in your stool also “teaches” your body that pooping isn’t a priority. This can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction, which is the inability to relax and coordinate your butt muscles to have a bowel movement. Cleveland Clinic reports that up to half of people with severe constipation have pelvic floor dysfunction.
Think of it like working out: the more times you skip the gym, the harder it is to get back into the groove.
4. Fecal Impaction
If you really push the limits of constipation, you can end up with fecal impaction: a serious medical condition where a big lump of dry poop gets packed so tightly into your rectum that you can’t push it out on your own. Most people can’t fix fecal impaction on their own; it requires a doctor’s visit to break down the blockage so the poop can work its way out.
The most severe cases of fecal impaction lead to bowel perforation, which is when a hole forms in the wall of the small intestine or colon. In rare cases, fecal impaction can actually kill you.
Bottom line: don’t hold in your poop if you don’t have to—the stakes are too high.
Is It Normal Not to Poop Every Day?
It’s normal to experience constipation every once in a while, so don’t freak out if you skip your daily deuce once in a while. There are countless causes of constipation, but here are some of the most common ones:
- Not drinking enough water
- Not eating enough fiber
- Not getting enough physical activity
- Stress (especially from traveling)
- Gastrointestinal health conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome
Chronic constipation (pooping fewer than three times per week) is a red flag that warrants help from a gastroenterologist.
What To Do If You Haven’t Pooped In 5+ Days
If you haven’t pooped in five days, don’t mess around. The fastest way to make yourself poop is with a laxative or stool softener, which you can get at your local drugstore. You’ll have the option to choose between an oral treatment or a suppository which goes up your butt (we recommend the former, for obvious reasons).
If over-the-counter treatment options don’t work, get in touch with your healthcare provider ASAP. Your doctor may use an enema, which is a special fluid inserted into the rectum to loosen any impacted stool.
The best way to beat constipation is to stay ahead of it. You can do that by sticking to a few simple tips:
- Drink plenty of water
- Do some kind of physical activity every day
- Eat high-fiber foods like whole grains, prunes, beans, or fiber supplements
Don’t Go More Than a Day Without DUDE Wipes
Even if you take a hiatus from the porcelain throne, you’re not exempt from wiping your ass. DUDES are nasty beasts, and we need to go in for a maintenance wipe at least once a day to eliminate butt stank and sanitize our third pits.
That’s where DUDE Flushable Wipes come in. They’re bigger than baby wipes, way softer than toilet paper, and infused with aloe and vitamin E to sooth your butt, balls, armpits, or any other bodily crevice.