By Alice || Edited by Go Ask Alice Editorial Team || Last edited Jan 05, 2024
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Alice! Health Promotion. "Holding off on number two." Go Ask Alice!, Columbia University, 05 Jan. 2024, https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/holding-number-two. Accessed 22, Jun. 2024.

Alice! Health Promotion. (2024, January 05). Holding off on number two. Go Ask Alice!, https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/holding-number-two.

Dear Alice,

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost three years, and we've lived together for more than one, but I still can't do Number Two when he's in the house. It's not a problem during the week when we both go to our separate jobs, but on the weekends, it's usually just the two of us in the house all day (and night) Saturday and Sunday and if I feel the need to poo, I have to wait until Monday. My question is this — are there any adverse health issues I should be concerned about with waiting to poo? I know that holding your pee can give you bladder infections, but is there a similar issue with Number Two?

Thanks,

Patiently Waiting

Dear Patiently Waiting, 

What do poo and your love for your boo have in common? It’s best not to hold it in! Ignoring nature’s calls can cause more than just discomfort—it may also cause constipation, fecal impaction, or even conditions like hemorrhoids. As a side note, problems with peeing can sometimes cause urinary tract infection but not always; of course, if this is a concern it may be best to speak with a health care provider. Otherwise, it’s understandable to be nervous to poop around a romantic partner because of embarrassment or stigma. But the reality is, everyone poops, including your boyfriend. So, perhaps it’s time to let it go! 

Waiting to poo, or stool-withholding, is a common contributing factor to constipation. Holding stool may seem harmless in the moment, but it leads to hardening of the stool as fluid is absorbed, which makes it even more challenging to go; this can lead to a vicious cycle and potential adverse health issues. Common symptoms of constipation include pooping less than 3 times a week, stool that's hard to pass, or feeling like you still need to go after you’ve finished pooping. This might lead to problems like abdominal discomfort, anal fissures, hemorrhoids, dysfunction of the rectum or damage to the pelvis, or fecal impaction where a mass of poo is stuck in your colon. These conditions may warrant hospitalization or medical care if your quality of life is being compromised. 

Of course, other factors like stress, hydration, and digestion may also influence your pooping, as the gut is connected to your overall health. Your stress over pooping with your boyfriend in the house may even influence the actual act of pooping itself! The good news is, there isn’t a set standard for how often people should be pooping; people have different frequencies, the key is to identify your normal frequency. 

Although pooping schedules can vary from person to person, it also matters how easily the poop passes. The stool should come out without straining and be well formed, not rock hard solid. If the latter sounds like you, ingesting fiber-rich foods or drinking more water may help. On the other hand, if the stool is too watery, that could be a sign of diarrhea, which can be improved by avoiding dairy or eating easily digestible foods like bananas, rice, and toast. In either case, if the stool doesn’t get better with lifestyle changes, it might be best to speak with a health care provider. 

Now that you’ve learned a little more about pooping, what’s stopping you from going Number Two, deep down? Are you uncomfortable because you simply don’t want your boyfriend to know when you’re going, or because of some other reason? 

  • You mentioned living with him for a while and being together for almost three years. Have you ever discussed other private concerns with him? If so, how did you talk through it together and what worked, or what didn’t? Pooping is a facet of everyone’s life, so it might be useful to talk about pooping like any other serious topic. You could talk to him about it as a partner, or as a roommate. Check out the Communicating and Relating fact sheet for some strategies on how to make the conversation go more smoothly. 
  • Or if it’s not serious enough for that type of discussion, approach the topic with humor. Maybe you can crack a joke before or after pooping as an icebreaker. You know your boyfriend and his sense of humor best, and maybe he has some jokes about pooping too! Once you've broken the bodily function barrier, it shows that you and your relationship could escalate to a new comfort level. 
  • Maybe you’re feeling awkward due to potential odors or sounds (like water splashing or fans running)? If so, is there an air freshener you like to use to mask the scent or something you can play to block any noise? Perhaps turning on some music or a show in the background? Or are there multiple bathrooms in your home where you can reserve one for yourself to go poo? Maybe you could choose one that’s far away from the central area of your living arrangement, to avoid being near your boyfriend when it’s time to poop. 

Remember, everyone does it! Just like breathing, pooping is completely natural. When you’ve got go, you’ve got to go! It’s not up to anyone to judge you for what you do on the pot. And as your partner, hopefully your boyfriend will understand and respect that. Let these tips keep you (and your bowel) moving, no matter the day of the week! 

Additional Relevant Topics:

General Health Relationships
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