Why Some People Cry When They Poop

When nature calls, some people may pass the time in the bathroom by reading, scrolling, or — crying? Yes. It may sound a little strange, but for some people, going #2 can be a tear-inducing experience. Perhaps it's not so bizarre after all when you consider the fact that, for babies, crying is a regular part of navigating the new and unusual experience of learning to poop. Unlike infants, however, if you're someone who finds themselves tearing up during a bowel movement, emotion is likely not to blame.

Gastroenterologist Dr. Niket Sonpal told Well + Good that any one of us may be prone to shedding a few tears every now and again while pooping. "Poop criers can be anyone, and it's not something that can happen every time," Dr. Sonpal explained. Although it might seem like pain would be the logical explanation for a bout of bathroom tears, this type of crying is not related to physical discomfort. Rather, it can be a side effect of the intra-abdominal pressure we experience during defecation.

The effects of intra-abdominal pressure and nerve activation when pooping

As our abdominal muscles contract to move stool through the colon and rectum, this places increased pressure not only in the abdomen but throughout other areas of the body as well, including the surrounding nerves and blood vessels all the way up to the top of our head (via Healthline). As a result, a tear or two may leak out as we poop. It's the same reason that some people may experience a runny nose when going #2 — and we all know that sometimes a heavy cry comes with a runny nose. Otherwise known as defecation rhinorrhea, the nerves that stimulate the muscle contractions needed to move waste through the colon are also connected to the nerves in our nasal passages (via Men's Health). When prompted, this can lead to mucus secretions while pooping.

The vagus nerve is one such nerve that is thought to get triggered in particular. Facilitating communication between the gut and the brain, the vagus nerve relaxes the body by lowering heart rate and blood pressure as we poop. Once we've done our business, this can leave us feeling content and satisfied after the fact. Termed "poo-phoria," some experts believe there may be a link between vagus nerve activation when pooping and the release of tears.

What it could mean if you're crying from painful poops

As we said, this kind of crying while pooping isn't related to physical pain. However, if you find yourself tearing up during a bathroom visit due to physical discomfort, there could be a few things going on. Temporary causes, such as a bout of constipation, could be to blame, reports WebMD. Alternatively, hemorrhoids and anal fissures can make bowel movements particularly painful. With the help of over-the-counter topical products and stool softeners, the pain of hemorrhoids often subsides within a few days. The same is true for anal fissures within a matter of weeks. If pain persists, however, be sure to reach out to your doctor.

Certain infections may also cause rectal pain. This includes herpes, syphilis, fungal infections, or an anal abscess. Women diagnosed with endometriosis may also experience sharp pain during a bowel movement. The condition occurs when uterine tissue expands beyond the uterus into neighboring organs. This tissue also releases blood during menstruation, but it cannot be discharged through the vagina from outside the uterus (via Medical News Today). This can cause pain, inflammation, and scarring. Hormone therapy, the use of over-the-counter pain-relief medications, or surgery may help relieve symptoms.