The Nuances and Complexities of Digestion

Illustration for article titled The Nuances and Complexities of Digestion

There's something that's been bothering me—and womankind in general, I suspect—for quite some time: my bowels. (Between this and the pubic rumination, I suppose it's increasingly clear that I'm going to be the gross, TMI guest editor, as opposed to the gross, TMI regular editors.)

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I suspect most of us ladies have a love-hate relationship with our digestive systems. Unless you've got some fetish going on (no judgments!), there's not much to love about the, uh, product—but don't try and tell me that you don't feel better after taking care of business! Alternately, there are few discomforts quite so exquisite as the overwhelming fullness of constipation (not to mention the distended-belly-bloated visual effect). And while we could talk and cringe all day about the various sorts of backups and clog-causing situations, there's one in particular that I find really troubling, one that seems, in my uninformed opinion, scientifically inexplicable.

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When I'm traveling, I'm not crapping. Plain and simple. This isn't simply a matter of being constipated while in transit. I could be settled in my private vacation paradise for weeks, and I won't be able to relieve myself for the life of me. I could take a gentle women's laxative, certainly, but if I don't normally have this issue, why does it come up under these odd circumstances?!

Plenty of woman are simply "poo-shy," uncomfortable with admitting to having bodily functions in the presence of new acquaintances who, thanks to close quarters, make it difficult to go to the bathroom with any dignity. I, too, have suffered from this—but usually nature wins out. If I've gotta go, no amount of modesty will stand in my way. What I'm talking about is the sheer inability to regularly move my bowels so long as I'm anywhere vaguely unfamiliar. Take me away from my normal surroundings, and those bitches get stubborn.

Thankfully, it's not just me. Though an awkward query of the dude sitting across the table from me suggests that men don't have this sort of issue, an informal and hasty IM survey reveals perhaps a girly trend piece in the making:

  • "Yes, it always takes a few days. New surroundings I think."
  • "yup, I usually get constipated. but that has a lot to do with poo-shyness. like i COULD NOT shit at joe's house in fire island. cause it is WAY too quiet there. and none of the doors lock at all. the shyness is so strong. that it manifests as actual constipation."
  • "i went to peru in february and i was there for over a week and i only went twice. i had to go buy this like fiber saw dust stuff there. but i'm always constipated so i guess i don't know what it's like to be normal. although it does get worse on vacay."
  • "oh, that never happens to me. I get a lot of fiber." [Ed: Bitch.]
  • "omg once my family and i did this trip to portugal spain and morocco. it was like 14 days, and my sister and i did not crap for like 12. we were COUNTING. and some of the food was weird while we were traveling which forced us to keep eating bread, and we were just getting more and more irritable and bloated. it was so funny. plus! hemorrhoids! i mean you really freak out just THINKING about 'anal bleeding—am i right?"
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Um, right! These insights doesn't necessarily answer my need for understanding nor my cries of "Why?!"—but at least we know that though we may suffer in silence, we don't suffer alone.

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DISCUSSION

lipservice-old
LipService

I can completely relate. Not only is it new surroundings though, but it can happen in surroundings familiar to me if I have the knowledge that somebody will *know* about it.

This in itself is weird, because I'm not at all one for poo-shyness, or any kind of bodily-function shyness. (Especially burp-shyness. I love me a good burp.) But, however much I need to go, the bastard will just not show if my subconscious has the faintest suspicion that someone is close by, or likely to use the bathroom soon after, or even aware of my absence from the rest of the house. It's like stage fright.

From talking to some of my girlfriends about this, I think its a problem largely exacerbated by mens refusal to acknowledge the female digestive system.

Case in point - I and my beloved other half, who is one of the most open minded and accepting people I have ever met, went on holiday recently and stayed in a nice but small hotel room with small ajoining bathroom. The entire time, he'd happily potter in and use the toilet whilst I was in the midst of doing my hair or brishing my teeth, and it was accepted as the norm. The one time he happened to walk past the open toilet door whilst I was discreetly having a wee, a look of abject terror crossed his face and he shouted "OH HELL NO!' and cowered.