The unofficial adage, “Home is where you poop most comfortably,” already found its way printed on some Amazon products. However, there might actually be some science-backed truth to it after all! If you’re uncomfortable, or you fear pooping in public toilets, you’re not alone! There’s a medical term for it — and a reason why you experience it.

Why is pooping in public so difficult to do?

Though pooping is normal, openly discussing it — especially in public — is still quite taboo. That’s a good thing in 99.999% of cases, but it can also make the thought of actually pooping in public bathrooms can even be more embarrassing! Apparently, lots of people also feel this way. So much so, even experts have already spoken about this public pooping phenomenon (or lack thereof) — they call it “parcopresis” or “shy bowel.”

According to Simon Knowles (psychologist and researcher at the Swinburne University of Technology), he and his peers published a study regarding parcopresis — they believe that the fear of pooping in public is a form of social anxiety disorder. The professor says that the reason why people experience this is that there can be “a psychological condition involving the difficulty or inability to defecate in public restrooms due to the overwhelming fear of perceived scrutiny.”

But the problems with pooping in public aren’t limited to our bowels. Others also have a hard time peeing in public — this phenomenon, on the other hand, is called “paruresis.”

Who are the people likely to suffer from parcopresis or paruresis?

According to Dr. Simon Knowles and his colleagues, women are more likely to ditch the idea of pooping in public bathrooms — women are more likely to suffer from parcopresis. One of their theories is that, statistically, women are already more likely to suffer from social anxiety, in general. 

Additionally, according to University of Melbourne professor, Nicholas Haslam, outside factors can also be another reason why women tend to suffer from parcopresis more. He explains, “Girls and women are held to a higher standard of purity and hygiene than men, and they are punished and shamed more when they transgress those standards,”

“One aspect of that is that women are more prone to feel disgust at body products, and poo is the prototypical object of disgust. What disgusts us shames us when we are associated with it, so women tend to be more ashamed around excretion than men–hence the attempts to hide evidence of it and do it in secret.” Dr. Nicholas Haslam added.

How do I make pooping in public more comfortable?

In case you find yourself in a situation where pooping in public bathrooms is the only solution, there are a few possible ways to make it easy for your bowels to move how they normally should.

Know your pooping schedule

First things first, however. If you already know that you’re prone to having problems with pooping in public, try not to be in public when you know you have to go potty! Figure out what your pooping schedule is like — do you have the urge to poop when you wake up? Or, say, 10, 15, or 30 minutes after your morning coffee or breakfast?

Write down your pooping schedule and see if there’s a pattern — you can then adjust what time you’ll be leaving for school or work based on your poop schedule!

Always have tissue or toilet paper with you

If your own bowels “betray” you, and you feel the urge and need to poop in public restrooms, bring a — umm — “sh**load” of tissue or toilet paper with you! You’re already going to need some to wipe anyway! But if you dread pooping in public, you can place a few layers on the toilet seat and some in the toilet, to avoid the “backsplash” and plopping sounds!


Poop needs to be pooped! If you hold in poop, according to a Medical News Today article, it can cause problems — such as constipation, inflammation, or worse, fecal impaction (which sometimes requires surgery to get the poop out). Therefore, it’s better that you just poop it out than deal with health problems like those later on. If you’re already seated at the toilet, practice breathing exercises, and don’t worry about the outside world (or outside of the cubicle) for now.

Pooping literally stinks, but you can mask the odor

Some people dislike pooping in public because they’re ashamed of the stench they’ll leave behind. Fortunately, these days, we can now find “toilet spray” products to purchase. Some of them come in bottles with droppers — where you put a few drops in the toilet before you poop, and others are in spray form — so you can deodorize the cubicle or bathroom afterward.

If you’re comfy, have a friend with you nearby

Sometimes, we can use a friend to give us a pep talk. Or, in this case, the poop talk. After all, since researchers believe that parcopresis is a form of anxiety, symptoms of anxiety can sometimes be reduced when we talk to friends or family members.

If you’re comfortable enough to let them inside the bathroom while you’re pooping, you can do just that — they can then comfort you to ease your worries and fear. If not, you can just have them wait for you by the door — either way, at least you know there’s someone who’s there to help.

To Cap Off,

Pooping is normal! However, apparently, several people deal with problems with pooping in public bathrooms — this phenomenon isn’t recognized as an official form of social anxiety problem (yet), but some medical professionals believe that difficulties with pooping in public restrooms possibly stem from that, as well as embarrassment, and the shame that one might be seen as unhygienic.

At the end of the day, let’s just remind ourselves that almost every living organism poops — but it’s only made to be embarrassing or shameful by the human species.

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