Everybody poops—it’s a fact of life. But not everyone is up for sharing the details of their bowel movements. In fact, new research has found that people are more uncomfortable talking about BMs than STDs…and that can have negative implications for our health.
Those findings come courtesy of the American Gastroenterological Association’s IBS in America survey, which polled 3,254 IBS sufferers as well as 302 physicians who treat the disorder. (If you’re not familiar with the acronym, IBS = Irritable Bowel Syndrome = a disorder that can cause recurring abdominal pain, constipation, and/or diarrhea.)
The survey also found that up to 67 percent of people who experienced IBS symptoms waited for more than a year before going to a doctor about it. Yet when they finally did speak up, the majority (65 percent) said they were satisfied with their care.
That’s a really long time to suffer needlessly through poop issues.
Nearly 35 million Americans suffer from IBS. Its symptoms can be so bad that some sufferers said they would be willing to give up caffeine or sex for a month in order to have just a month’s relief from the symptoms.
While it’s important to see a doctor if you suspect you have IBS, it’s also a good idea to get yourself checked out if you have any of its symptoms over a period of time, as it could mark another health problem. Chronic constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain can also be a sign of bowel blockage, cancer, and a host of other gastro issues.
Bottom line: Your pooping habits can be a really important indicator of your overall health. If you suspect something is off, speak up—and be detailed. The AGA recommends giving the “full extent of your symptoms,” as well as how they eff with your life and what you’ve tried to do to fix them.
And remember: There's nothing to be embarrassed about. Your doc has heard it all before!