There’s a running joke about how long it takes dads to poop. Picture this: dad stands up, phone in hand, and heads toward the toilet. No one will say it, but everyone knows dad 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 dads take so long to poop. Jokes aside, experts have concluded that some men are taking way too long to poop, and it’s not healthy.
The Reddit thread 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 Wifi, the “stomach issues” that had caused him to sit on the toilet for 25 minutes at a time stopped. This had 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 — there seems to be some truth to this scenario in other’s lives.
Men complain about how long it takes women to get ready, while they take 45 minutes to poop.
— Ally Macy (@allymacy) February 2, 2018
Romper spoke to Dr. Niket Sonpal, Associate Program Director IM residency at Brookdale University Hospital & Medical Center, to get to the bottom of this issue that seems to be more common than we realized. How long should it take to poop? Should that mom, and other women who notice similar time frames with their partner, worry about their partner’s health? Or could this be parenting duty avoidance?
According to Dr. 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,” Dr. Sonpal says. “They are not getting enough fiber, and the stools are not bulky enough.”
Even with all that, the doctor says that no one should be spending more than five minutes trying to poop. “If you have a proper diet with good fiber and enough water intake, your bowel movements should be a very short occurrence,” Dr. Sonpal says. A 2017 study published in the journal Soft Matter and highlighted by New Scientist, says even that’s too long and the average mammal, yes 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 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 says. “You know, 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.”
But women don’t seem to be taking that long to poop, or at least that’s not the trope. 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 (because that would be more concern and less angry) are likely motivated by frustration surrounding the imbalance of parenting duties.
Maybe you can start that chat by turning off the Wifi and having some popcorn, which turns out is a great source of fiber.