There’s a running joke about how long it takes men to poop. Picture this: Dad stands up, phone in hand, and heads toward the toilet. No one will say it, but everyone knows he will be in the bathroom for a good 30 minutes. We’ve seen this scene play out on TV, and maybe even in our own lives. Viral Reddit threads have incited NASA-level discussions about why men take so long to poop. Jokes aside though, experts have concluded that some men are taking way too long to poop, and it’s not healthy.
The Reddit thread in question had one mom asking for advice, saying she was pretty sure her husband was using the “I need to poop” excuse to get out of parenting their twins. She felt he was ignoring his duties in favor of playing on his phone while sitting on his porcelain throne. Once, she took matters into her own hands: When she turned off the Wi-Fi, the “stomach issues” that had caused him to sit on the toilet for 25 minutes at a time had stopped. This set off a fight between the couple, and the mom wanted to know if she was being unreasonable. The comments filled up with “my husband does this too” replies.
Romper spoke to Niket Sonpal, M.D., a gastroenterologist and professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine - Harlem, to get to the bottom of this issue. How long should it take to poop? Should moms worry about their partner’s health? Or could this be parenting duty avoidance?
According to Sonpal, there are health reasons why a man may take so long to poop, specifically if he is constipated. “No one should, in theory, take that long to have a bowel movement. This means the person is not getting enough water, and the stools are too hard,” Sonpal said. “They are not getting enough fiber, and the stools are not bulky enough.”
No one should be spending more than five minutes trying to poop, he added. “If you have a proper diet with good fiber and enough water intake, your bowel movements should be a very short occurrence,” A 2017 study published in the journal Soft Matter, says even that’s too long, and the average mammal, including humans, takes just 12 seconds to poop.
It’s difficult to get mad at someone who needs to spend so much time pooping if there is a legitimate medical concern. Having to sit that long and try to poop sounds painful, and less favorable than changing a diaper. But Jonathan Alpert, a Manhattan psychotherapist, says dad may just be escaping from parenting duties. He told CafeMom that the bathroom is a sort of hideout for people because no one ever asks what you’re doing in there, even if you take a long time.
“I guess I would call it a safe place,” Alpert said. “Most people aren’t going to question someone’s activities or motivation for going to the bathroom. Everyone deserves their privacy to go to the bathroom, and I think some people might be using it for a little more than that and to their advantage.”
To get to the root of the issue, have a conversation about what you’re really bothered about. The frustration and anger about taking so long to poop are likely motivated by frustration surrounding the imbalance of parenting duties.
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