What It Means When Pooping Gives You The Chills

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You roll out of bed, rub your eyes awake, get yourself some coffee, and then head over to the bathroom for your morning business. More often than not, this is all done on autopilot, until of course, you have one of those glorious poops that sends chills up and down your spine. It's the kind of poop that jolts you from your sleepy-eyed stupor to the present moment. 

Well, turns out there's a name for when pooping can put you in a good mood — it's called "poo-phoria". It is unclear where the term originated from although the authors of the book, "What's Your Poo Telling You?," Josh Richman and Dr. Anish Sheth use it and other medical professionals seem to turn to the term too It describes the chill-inducing sensation you get from taking a nice big bowel movement. Even your heart rate and blood pressure drop when you're experiencing poo-phoria. You might also sweat. "It may not occur all the time, it may not occur with every single bowel habit or bowel movement but it is a very common occurrence and it is normal," explained board-certified gastroenterologist, Dr. Sameer Islam on YouTube.

The reason you feel chills and even get goosebumps from such a bowel movement is because the act of pooping stimulates the vagus nerve, which is a part of your parasympathetic nervous system, and runs from your brain to your anus, explained the doctor.   

Poo-phoria can be addictive

The feeling of passing a large stool can be so great that for some people, it can become addictive, added gastroenterologist from Princeton, Dr. Anish Sheth (via Mirror U.K.). "To some it may feel like a religious experience, to others, like an orgasm, and to a lucky few, like both," added the author in his book. 

Speaking of orgasms, the general feel-good effect of this kind of pooping might be one of the reasons men spend longer time in the bathroom than women, added NHS surgeon, Dr. Karan Raj (via LAD Bible). Even for women, the vagus nerve has been linked with penetrative sex and resulting orgasm. 

Does this mean everyone should be aiming to have more chill-inducing poo-phorias with their morning bathroom breaks? Not necessarily. Dr. Sheth warned people of something else that might happen with passing a large mass of stool — defecation syncope. Overstimulation of the vagus nerve and the corresponding lightheadedness that comes from your blood pressure and heart rate reducing can even cause someone to lose consciousness temporarily, per Outside.

How to poop (responsibly)

Sometimes, you might not be able to prevent a poo-phoria and you don't really have to. Enjoy them when they happen; we could all use some pick-me-ups first thing in the morning. But that doesn't mean you should go seeking them out intentionally, according to the experts. 

According to Dr. Anish Sheth, there's a right and wrong way to poop (via Business Insider). Discussing why pooping gives you chills on an episode of the podcast Body Stuff with Dr. Jen Gunter, the gastroenterologist shared that even though a "monster-poo" feels so great that you want to high-five someone when you leave the bathroom, you shouldn't be sitting on a toilet for more than five minutes in order to facilitate one. You could disrupt the natural reflex involved in bowel movements by doing this and also put yourself in a position where you might strain. 

"When people sit for long periods of time, they might be tempted to strain, which you want to avoid because it can lead to hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins in your rectum. Hemorrhoids can be incredibly painful and really hard to treat, so prevention is key," explained the gastroenterologist. There are also things you can be doing to get yourself to poop instantly in the mornings (or whenever you sit on the toilet). Eating fiber-rich foods, hydrating enough, exercising regularly, using a squatty potty, and drinking coffee can all help.