In the era of Instagram realness where people are ditching “I woke up like this” filtered perfection in favor of no-BS vignettes of their daily lives, that real talk hasn’t translated to one place: the bathroom.
Well, the secret’s out: women poop. It seems obvious, so why is there still so much stigma around ladies committing the undainty act of going number two? Ashley Koff, RD and CEO of The Better Nutrition Program, thinks it’s linked to the lack of help women receive when they endure digestive issues.
“Women get really frustrated that they don’t get real help and that they aren’t getting better,” Koff says, of the nearly 100 million women who are affected by (often undiagnosed) gut issues. “That frustration can turn into feeling hopeless—so silence isn’t necessarily a taboo but the result of frustration.”
To help overcome and squash any lingering taboo ideas about women pooping, we teamed up with Renew Life—creators of the cult-favorite women’s probiotic supplement—to provide useful remedies for the next time you can’t seem to get a bowel movement rolling in some of the most common scenarios where women struggle.
Keep reading for other women pooping shame topics explained—plus ways to overcome common scenarios you might find yourself in.
1. Public bathrooms
Before you’re hit with all the solutions, let’s figure out why you shy away from public restrooms. “The size and height of the toilet, the cleanliness, and also the concern that someone will notice if they pass gas or are even in a stall too long can keep someone from being able to have a bowel movement,” Koff says. Feel seen yet?
Though the obvious piece of advice would be to care less about what people think, sometimes that mantra just doesn’t cut it. If germs are what keep you from answering mother nature’s call all day long, try bringing your own toilet seat covers, sanitizer, or even toilet paper so you’re in control of all the bathroom elements. And if you can’t stand the thought of unwanted noises slipping out during your restroom session, Heather Bauer, RD and creator of The Food Fix, suggests downloading a sound machine app that you can play during those moments.
2. On vacay
If you feel like the only one who can’t take care of business while on a trip, you’re in for some…ahem, relief. “Travel is stressful, and when we are stressed our body contracts our muscles. Calcium enters our cells, and the body then requires magnesium to push that calcium back out to relax,” Koff explains. “Air pressure if flying can also contract or prevent the muscles from relaxing.”
Guess what’s hard to do when your muscles are clenched? You guessed it. To help your body chill out (this is a vacation, after all), try taking several deep breaths once you’re parked on the toilet, and loading up on magnesium-rich foods like almonds, dark chocolate, and spinach.
Speaking of diet, what you eat and drink while traveling can also have a big impact on your number two situation. “If someone usually eats gluten free and they [eat] gluten, it can be binding,” Bauer says of common vacay diet changes. “And, many people don’t get the proper amount of water when traveling.”
This one’s an easy-ish fix. Be extra aware of your water intake, be mindful of foods that could cause a back-up (especially ones you’re not used to eating), and don’t forget your supplements. Magnesium and probiotics like Renew Life Ultimate Flora Women’s Probiotic—which is 2.5 times stronger than the lead probiotic—don’t take up much space in your carryon, but are valuable pieces of cargo for your digestion.
3. Around your S.O.
Whether you’re spending the day at your partner’s place or heading out on your first romantic getaway, bathroom breaks can be nerve-racking enough to make you consider holding it indefinitely (which Koff strongly recommends against).
As with any situation that comes up in a relationship, the most painless route to take is honesty. Hate to be the one to break it to you, but communication is key when it comes to the poop talk. You do it, your partner does it, everyone does it—so in order to get comfy enough to let it happen, you’ll need to get comfortable with the topic as a whole.
And something both Bauer and Koff agree on is that the more women talk about it, the less taboo of a concept pooping will become. Here’s to more poop convos at happy hour.
In partnership with Renew Life
Top photo: Michela Ravasio/Stocksy
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