You might guess that I subscribe to a lot of health newsletters. And you’re right. Last week, I got one in my inbox with the subject line “POOP SIZE MATTERS.”
In fact, poop size does matter, and it’s an indicator of your overall health. In my last post, I wrote about having a conversation with your heart, and one of the conversations we need to be having is about our poop. SHIIIIIIIIIITTTT I SAID IT.
Here in the US, we shy away from discussing our health and bodily functions. But there’s a cost to not talking about our bowel movements. More and more Americans are going to the emergency room for constipation. And it’s not just about poop. The added cost of being constipated about our bowel conversations is that we’ve become constipated in our health conversations – about mental health, about disabilities, about childbearing, about aging.
When I taught yoga in Indonesia, I was surprised by how open Indonesians were about their bodily functions. (I’m sitting on a toilet in the middle of a restaurant in Indonesia in the photo for this post.) Before going into class, students would tell me they were constipated, and women would tell me that they were having menstrual cramps. Their openness created a chance to talk about their health and brainstorm a solution. Not once has a student in America ever been this open with me.
I haven’t always felt comfortable discussing my health. When I went to college, I didn’t tell the admissions office that I was dyslexic. I didn’t tell my professors either. As I gradually became more comfortable talking about dyslexia, I realized that I have a unique opportunity to educate people about dyslexia. When I skip a syllable and people look at me like I’m crazy, I see an opportunity to educate them.
Ally Bain saw an opportunity, too. At the age of 14, Ally was denied access to a restroom and had a very public accident due to a bowel disorder. Her experience would crush most adults but not her. She turned her experience into an opportunity to change our country. Now, at least 16 states have passed Ally’s Law, which says that people with medical conditions who require immediate access to a restroom (such as pregnancy or Crohn’s disease) must be allowed access to employee restrooms if public restrooms are not available.
If there’s one thing to go on the offensive and advocate for, it’s your health. And that may start by talking with your doctor about your bowel movements, talking with a therapist about your insomnia (on my calendar for next week), or talking with a loved one about how you want to make different food choices. Understanding your body is an important component of self-care.
In the past few years, the conversation about poop is moving from constipated to a little more regular. Products like the Squatty Potty are changing the way we go to the bathroom. (See this amazing article in The Guardian.) Right to Shine is a safe space to talk about your health. When it comes to your health, all the other shit in your life can wait… and if you can’t shit, get help!