Why You Can’t Poop in Public
If you struggle to, you know, “let loose” in a public bathroom, you’re not alone. In fact, the majority of people feel more comfortable “going” on their toilet at home, says Nick Haslam, a professor of psychology at the University of Melbourne and author of Psychology in the Bathroom.
But while many of us feel that unmistakable urge the minute we walk in the door, the scientific reason behind it may make you better about needing to do #2 in private.
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“‘More comfortable’ is an emotional state, but emotions are physiological responses,” Jack Gilbert, director of University of Chicago’s Microbiome Center, told The Atlantic. “So ‘more comfortable’ is a physiological state. It’s a way in which your body responds to its environment.”
As soon as you cross the threshold of your home, your glucose tolerance, breathing and hormones apparently change in addition to a whole bunch of bodily adjustments. It’s a suspected response to your house’s unique conditions, like the smells, sounds and other sensations. All together, the stimuli prompt the body to get things moving.
And just like Pavlov’s dogs, we’re also “trained” to associate that particular toilet with the act. After all, you do use it the most. “Just being in its presence triggers the relaxation response that allows you to release the inhibitions that led you to ‘hold it in’ while in unfamiliar surroundings,” Haslam told The Atlantic.
But while that helps explain why we wait to go, that doesn’t mean we should. Holding it in for a long period time can cause pain, discomfort and constipation. If you resist the urge regularly, it can even mess with the brain signals and muscles associated with pooping, according to Prevention. So if you’ve got go, you’ve gotta go. Just remember: Everybody poops.
(h/t The Atlantic)