Just like your bed should only be used for sleep and sex, the toilet should only be used for pooping.
So put down your phone while on you’re on the john.
Pooping shouldn’t be a drawn-out process. You’re better off keeping your toilet time to less than 10 to 15 minutes, says Gregory Thorkelson, M.D., a psychiatrist in the department of gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh.
In fact, you should only make your way to the bathroom when the urge hits.
If the urge to poop isn’t there, you might be tempted to push or strain to try to get the job done.
And all that straining could lead to the development of haemorrhoids—bulging blood vessels around your anus that can become swollen and painful or even bleed.
What’s more, focusing more on reading the paper or scrolling through your phone could get you out of pooping mode.
Here’s why that happens: Something called the peristalsis wave—progressive, rhythmic contractions that move stool along your bowel—sparks your need to poop.
Once the stool hits your rectum, you feel the urge to go, Dr. Thorkelson explains.
If you don’t go when that feeling hits, you may experience a process called reverse peristalsis, where the stool backs up slightly into your colon, he says.
This can make trying to poop even, well, harder.
“Your colon extracts some of the fluid from your stool, which can contribute to constipation,” he adds.
The harder and dryer your stool is, the more difficult it is to pass.
So if the urge goes M.I.A., get off the throne and wait until the next wave comes along—it might be a couple hours.
If it regularly takes you more than 10 to 15 minutes to poop, it could be a sign that something is going on, Dr. Thorkelson says.
It could be as simple as stress, which can reduce peristalsis and slow the movement of your bowels.
Plus, when you’re in fight or flight mode, your body is focused on behaviours that will help you survive—pooping quickly isn’t one of them.
Of course, lots of toilet time is also a sign that you could be constipated, so make sure you’re getting plenty of fibre, Dr. Thorkelson says. Aim for 38 grams per day.
You may also want to ask your doctor about taking a magnesium supplement, which relaxes the bowel so things move along more smoothly, or an over-the-counter laxative like Miralax.
But need a quick fix? Coffee can help you poop - it may help stimulate the muscle contractions involved in the peristalsis wave, a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology suggests.