Whether you are a grown-up or a newborn, there is a particular type of relief you get from, well, pooping. So, why does it feel good to poop? You’ve probably asked yourself this question many times by now but never took the time to find out the answer. The explanation is related to different aspects of our anatomy and we are going to tell you more about it if you can take as little as 3 minutes to read this article.
It has to do with your muscles
You might not have thought about this before, but muscles are also involved in the process of excretion and, when you are taking a dump, they feel relieved after being contracted for a while due to your food intake.
Here is how it works. After you eat, regardless of the type of food you ingest, your colon has to get down to work and get ready to accommodate what remains of your feasts after the body collects and uses all the nutrients. For this reason, it has to expand slowly so that it can allow the byproducts in.
As your gut’s receptors ‘talk’ to your brain and convince it that it is time to eliminate the food waste, certain muscles have to make sure that the material that needs to be eliminated is kept inside.
There are different muscles in your gut that are quite active in the process of eliminating what the body doesn’t use as a source of nutrients. These muscles have to contract a lot so that they can move the remaining material forward and make it reach the colon and they also contract to promote the absorption of water and necessary nutrients.
These are the anal sphincters. One of these muscles is internal and it does the job of keeping the excrement in automatically, requiring no effort from your side. The other one is external, and you can contract it. In fact, you have done this thousands of times probably, when you couldn’t get to the toilet in time or voluntarily delayed your bowel movement break.
Because of all the contractions involved in this natural process, you get the feeling of pressure in your belly and that’s absolutely normal. When you get that feeling, you already start thinking that it might be the right time to go to the toilet. Yet, many of us tend to delay that moment of relief for different reasons.
This is when your body starts sending distress signals to let you know that you should take those 5 minutes from your busy schedule and go get a proper dump. After you let yourself be persuaded and you are done with number two, you suddenly feel more relaxed and light.
So, why does it feel good to poop? First of all, it feels good because you stop feeling all that pressure in your stomach, which can feel quite uncomfortable especially if you avoid going to the toilet right after you get the first signals that you should.
Secondly, you feel better because you stop tormenting all those muscles in your body that had a hard time keeping the waste in. Hence, the feeling of relief. Moreover, there are also different nerves involved in the process that also send ‘feel good’ messages once the poop has left the body.
And your nerves too
No matter how much we might overlook its importance and functionality, at least while everything functions normally, the anus is quite an important part of our body. Also, it is far more complex than you might imagine.
There are myriad nerves in the anus, more than in many other parts of the body. Moreover, the type of nerves that exist here are quite peculiar as they have a unique ability to make a distinction between materials that come in solid form, liquid, or gas.
When you relieve your bowels, a number of nerves in your anus are actively transmitting a sensation of comfort. More precisely, we are talking about the vagus nerve and the pudendal nerve.
The first is responsible for controlling the gut and, once you eliminate the stool, this nerve sends a signal to the brain, which then accounts for the sensation of relief that you get when the pressure in your abdomen decreases.
The vagus nerve is responsible for different other bodily functions. For example, it can also regulate blood pressure and influence heart rate. When this nerve is stimulated, it gives way to a sensation of pleasure and when it is overstimulated, it can even make you feel lightheaded. This explains the odd feel-good sensation many get especially after passing a large stool.
The pudendal nerve is also believed to be responsible for the sensation of ease you feel once you are done with number two, although research is still necessary on this topic.
A little bit about ‘healthy’ poop
There is a wide range of colors that can qualify as normal in terms of stools. Generally, poop’s color depends on what type of food you have been eating, but also on the quantity of bile. This is a yellowish-greenish substance that gets involved in fats digestion. As bile does its job in the digestive system, the color of the stool will get different hues depending on how bile was influenced by the enzymes that also help perform the digestion.
If your stools have any shade of brown or if they tend to be greener, you probably shouldn’t worry about your digestion as it should work properly. Moreover, if you have regular bowel movements and you are not feeling any other symptoms such as cramps or gas, your stomach and digestion are probably ok.
There are, however, some signs that can indicate the presence of illness. If your stool is red, for example, this can be a sign that there is blood in it, which might be linked to different health problems. If the stool is black, this can be a sign of gastrointestinal bleeding.
However, the color alone should not scare you as both red and dark stools can also be the result of certain foods that have those colors. At the same time, certain supplements can influence the color of poop. Iron, for example, might give it a darker shade.
If your stool has an abnormal color and you also experience any symptoms of illness or pain, then you should definitely go see your doctor.
How can you tell if a baby has normal poop?
If you are an adult, it is quite easy for you to understand when something is not working properly in your digestive system. Your bowel movements are usually sending you signals when this happens and you get problems such as diarrhea or constipation, often accompanied by cramps and a general feeling of discomfort.
Based on these symptoms, you can talk to your doctor who can prescribe medication and a particular type of diet that can help you get your bowel movements back on the right track. However, things are not that easy if you are a parent and your child is yet too little to be able to communicate with you and tell you what symptoms he or she is experiencing.
Not surprisingly, many parents pay a lot of attention to how their baby’s poop looks, especially if the little one has been crying a lot or is cranky, which can indicate that he or she is having some digestive problems. In this case, the poop’s color and consistency and also the frequency of the baby’s bowel movements can indicate whether you are dealing with a digestive issue or not.
As a general rule that’s worth remembering, especially if you are used to talking to other parents, is that there is no stereotype when it comes to baby poo. So, don’t worry if your baby’s food waste looks differently than what other parents describe. A baby’s stools can have different colors and consistency which doesn’t necessarily mean that something’s wrong with their digestion.
If the baby is breastfed, his or her stool will normally have a yellowish or greenish color and it will be more fluid. If you want a comparison term, you might say it looks like cream. On the other hand, in babies who are fed with formula the color normally varies within the brown spectrum.
You shouldn’t worry if your baby’s poop has a greenish color as this is normal. A sign that might indicate that your baby is having digestive problems or other health problems is when their bowel movements start changing suddenly. For example, the child can stop pooping as frequently as before or they start doing it very often.
If this sign is accompanied by other symptoms that might indicate illness, for example, refusal to eat or continuous crying, you might want to get in touch with your doctor.
Now that you are aware of what is happening in your body when you have a bowel movement, your dilemma has been dealt with. If someone ever asks you ‘why does it feel good to poop?’, now you know the answer.