Nervous or excited bowel movements
When I get excited about going to see the boy I love or nervous about hanging out alone with him, I have to poop. Everytime. My stomach gets really upset and it cramps and then I have to poop. In most cases it's diarrhea and I never feel like I'm okay by the time I have to leave. Is there something I can do about it to limit it or just stop it in general? I love knowing that I get to see him but I hate the baggage I get beforehand.
Down in the poops
Dear Down in the poops,
Although awkward, your desire to poop upon seeing your sweetheart is actually a sort of back-handed compliment. Many people experience "butterflies in the stomach” in response to excitement or nervousness before or during a range of situations. Here's what may be going on for you: the person you love can make you excited or nervous, which the body can interpret as stress, triggering a whole slew of physiological changes—including digestive issues—through the body’s fight, flight, or freeze response.
When preparing to run away from a tiger or fight a bear, or any other type of stressor, it's not in the body's best interest to spend energy on digestion. Because the body needs all your blood and energy to fight or flee, digestion often stops, causing the bowels to empty. The enteric nervous system (ENS) of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is composed of over 100 million neurons that work to break down food. Negative emotions, such as stress and anxiety, can impact the efficacy of the ENS. Stress can change the balance of gut bacteria or affect communication between the brain and stomach which can trigger diarrhea. This reaction can be even worse for people who struggle with chronic bowel disorders. That being said, stress can be a response to something that is good or bad. Although your darling is not a physical threat to your safety, your body perceives the shot of adrenaline produced in response to seeing him as stress. You might also notice that your heart pounds or that you start sweating more. These are all normal responses to stress, and they help to prepare your body to adjust to new circumstances.
The good news is that there are some measures you can take to help calm down and center yourself, and also temper your body’s reactions, before you see your love. Some suggestions include:
- Taking slow, deep breaths. While you're doing this, you may try picturing him while staying calm and collected, training your body to react differently to that excitement.
- Practicing yoga and meditation. These techniques can help retrain the body into a pattern of calmness and diminished reactivity.
- Listening to soothing music. This can help put you in a mellow state of mind before a date.
- Talking to friends or family. Reaching out to others may help you to figure out what you're so nervous or excited about, which may take the edge off of seeing your loved one.
- Avoiding food that could worsen diarrhea. Certain foods such as those containing high amounts of sugar, fructose or artificial sweeteners, dairy products, foods that are fried or fatty, gluten, and spicy foods, while potentially delicious, may increase your likelihood of having diarrhea.
- Taking a probiotic or prebiotic. These supplements can improve gut bacteria and may reduce the likelihood of digestive problems. You may consider speaking with your health care provider if this is a route you want to explore since supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and could have interactions with other medications you might be taking.
While chronic digestive upset could point to an underlying problem like a food allergy, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it sounds like your gastric distress is limited to when you see the one you love. That being said, if you find this problem coming up (or out) at other times, you might consider speaking with a health care provider, as stress can aggravate the symptoms associated with these conditions.
Hopefully, some of the relaxation tips are helpful in easing the intensity of your lovestruck jitters. You could also share with your honey (graphic details or not) that sometimes you feel nervous when you're going to spend time together and see what he says. Chances are you aren't the only one feeling riled-up and you can help to calm each other's frazzled nerves. However you decide to handle it, the beginning of love is exciting, and your body is reacting appropriately, albeit a bit overzealously, to the buzz of a budding romance.
Originally published Jun 06, 2008
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