Healthy Body

Everything We Learned About Peeing and Pooping This Year—for a More Regular 2022

Photo: Getty Images/brizmaker
One 2016 study found that the average person spends between 30 and 60 minutes of each day in the bathroom. (That adds up to between 3 and 1/2 to seven hours a week, BTW.) If you're going to spend that much of your life in the lavatory, you may as well make the most of it... right? That's why—here at Well+Good—we spent countless hours over the past year talking to urologists and gastroenterologists about best practices when it comes to peeing and pooping.

In the interest of a having a more, ahem, regular 2022, we rounded up the top tips we learned in 2021 to help you see something you've been doing all your life in a new light. Ready?

What we learned about being number one at going number one

1. Working from home has changed the way we pee—but it's not that big of a deal

One of the more underrated benefits of working from home is the fact that you can go pee whenever you damn well please. But according to urologists, that may lead to going a little more often than you really need to—which has consequences. "If we go very often at smaller bladder volumes, the brain will be trained to want to go that often, so the frequency becomes the norm," said Lamia Gabal, MD, a urologist in Orange County, California, previously told Well+Good.

While this isn't a huge deal for your bladder health, it could make life a little more inconvenient when you do find your way back into your office. So just make sure you start your bladder training sooner rather than later—unless you like to stretch your legs every 30 minutes or so anway.

2. Practice double-voiding if you feel the urge to pee immediately after going

If emptying your bladder is a struggle for you, urologists have a simple—albeit, a little bit silly—solution. Before getting up from the toilet, stand up and do a little hip wiggle over the toilet. "This move is one of my favorite tips to give patients," Kylee Panse, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at Spectrum Health's Women's Health and Wellness Center shared with Well+Good. "I call it the 'double void dance' or the 'potty dance' and teach it with the cues: 'Around. Around. Stand up. Sit down.' I think it is a quick way to start to see changes in leakage after urination or urinary frequency." If you take nothing else away from this article, I hope you remember this bathroom dance.

3. Keep a bladder journal if you feel like you're peeing non-stop

If you find yourself waking up two or more times a night because you just have to go,  Aleece Fosnight, medical advisor at Aeroflow Urology, previously shared with us that a bladder journal can help you get back to uninterrupted REM. "Keeping a bladder journal can help you understand your triggers," she explained "[It] will speed up the success of the bladder training process." For example, maybe you start to notice that you have to pee multiple times at night after having a glass of wine past 8 p.m. or drinking one more cup of coffee than you normally do. In the end, these observations will help you get to know yourself a little better so you can time your beverages right.

4. Take your time when you pee

If you're trying to squeeze in one last pee before you hop onto a two-hour Zoom work meeting, you may find yourself "power peeing," or peeing really, really hard. According to Robert Mordkin, MD, FACS, chief of urology and the director of robotic and laparoscopic surgery at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, peeing one is simply one of those things in life that cannot be rushed.

"Our bodies have, over the millennia, evolved a highly sophisticated system for proper elimination of urine. This involves a complex neurological pathway that triggers the contraction of the bladder muscle with a coordinated relaxation of the urinary sphincter," he says. "Repetitive power peeing can disrupt this synchronized event and, over time, lead to a loss of bladder strength and proper sensation, culminating in poor emptying and the inability to appropriately discharge urine." So give yourself a nice 10-minute timespan to take care of your business, okay?

What we learned about being number one at going number two

1. Treat the morning as your sacred pooping time

We talk a lot about morning rituals here at Well+Good, but going number two is perhaps the most important morning ritual there is. According to Peyton Berookim, MD, a board-certified gastroenterologist at the Gastroenterology Institute of Southern California, you should start the day with a soft bowel movement that doesn't require any straining. And to achieve that, you should drink plenty of water; eat a diet that's rich in fiber, probiotics and healthy fats; go for a walk; and invest in a toilet stool. Those are the four easiest steps to start with, but if you're still having some trouble, he also recommended talking to your doctor about your medications and hormones, and asking them if mild laxatives are right for you.

2. Certain spices can help you go

You already know that fiber-rich foods are essential for expediting your bowel movements, but what you sprinkle on your meals is also important. We asked several experts to name the best digestive spices you can stock up on at the grocery store, and they named cayenne pepper, ginger, cumin, fennel, and turmeric. So keep that in mind next time you're standing in front of your spice rack deciding how to season your veggies.

3. There's a right way to poop in the woods... and it requires a shovel

The first time my boyfriend handed me a poop trowel, we were in the Adirondacks and I was horrified. But here's the thing: It's really your only option, according to  Brianna Madia, an outdoors influencer and board-certified OB-GYN. "When I’m out in remote areas, I dig cat holes, per Leave No Trace standards—six inches, y’all!—usually with a rock because I don’t carry a trowel around on a tool belt or anything and when you gotta go, you gotta go." Hey, no one said camping is glam—but the vistas are definitely worth it.

4. If you have to go immediately after you put your fork down, you can blame the gastrocolic reflex

There's nothing quite like excusing yourself in the middle of a meal to run off to the bathroom. Don't worry, though: Amanda Sauceda, RD, says that it's a perfectly normal, bodily response called the “gastrocolic reflex." "That natural process is you having to poop after you eat," Sauceda said "Your body is making room for more food so your colon says 'heave-ho' to whatever is inside, and you get the urge to poop." Just note: You're not pooping out what you just ate; it take a little bit more time than that.

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