Is It Bad to Hold the Urge to Go to the Bathroom?

In addition to causing hemorrhoids and constipation, resisting the urge to go to the bathroom can alter the function of the intestine and make it difficult to absorb nutrients. Here's why you shouldn't do it.
Is It Bad to Hold the Urge to Go to the Bathroom?
Maricela Jiménez López

Written and verified by the doctor Maricela Jiménez López.

Last update: 12 May, 2022

You’ve probably heard more than once that resisting the urge to go to the bathroom can be harmful. Well, that’s not so far from reality, holding back the urge to defecate can have consequences on your health, beyond the typical discomfort it causes.

Most of the time, it’s not convenient to go to the restroom. Thus, the mistake that many make is to turn this into a daily habit. For the most part, everyone who works or studies is uncomfortable going to the bathroom. Because of this, they often see the action of holding the urge as harmless. How can it be so bad?

Is it bad to hold the urge to go to the bathroom?

A woman going to the bathroom.

Digestion is the way your body absorbs nutrients. However, this process leaves behind some waste it needs to get rid of. Your body does this with poop. When it sends the signal to go the restroom, the worst thing you can do is ignore it because this is when your body needs to get rid of the waste.

It’s of the utmost importance to eliminate all of the residue. Apart from making you feel bad and heavy, stool that’s held back affects the functions of your intestine

As a result of this change, you digest food poorly. This problem causes:

  • Indigestion
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Stomach pain
  • Even vomiting

You should only fight the urge to use the bathroom in extreme emergencies. If you feel the need to defecate, it’s important that you not ignore this urge. Your body is telling you that it has to get rid of this waste to be able to digest nutrients that you just ate.

The consequences of ignoring the urge to use the bathroom

As we told you before if you often ignore the urge to use the restroom, the way your intestines work will start to change. As a result, your body won’t absorb nutrients correctly. You may believe that not going to the bathroom when you feel the need is harmless, but that thought couldn’t be farther from the truth.

  • Besides causing great problems for your intestinal and digestive process in general, not emptying your bowel when you feel the urge can adversely influence all of your body.
  • Remember: you get rid of thousands of toxins through fecal matter. By delaying, these will start poisoning your body.


A woman with the urge to use the bathroom.

By suppressing the urge to defecate for a long period of time, you’re causing poop to accumulate and create a kind of “plug.” When you try to get rid of the waste, this turns into torture. This is because the waste is very hard. Therefore, it can be painful to get rid of it.

Bad smells

A woman in the bathroom.

The same thing happens with gas. By keeping it in, you create an odor bomb. In other words, poop and flatulence will smell much worse than normal. Also, by suppressing the urge, you increase the development of gases in your stomach. These can make you feel much heavier and bloated.


Hemorrhoids are enlarged veins that are found in your anus. Their inflammation causes pain, discomfort, and, in severe cases, heavy bleeding.

  • Not getting rid of poop dries out your whole anal cavity. Accordingly, your stool gets harder and more difficult to get rid of. As a result, it can inflame hemorrhoids, as explained in this publication of the World Journal of Gastroenterology.
  • In other words, a consequence of keeping poop in can be that when you try to relieve yourself, it’ll be very painful and you may even start to see blood.

According to this study, hemorrhoids aren’t very common in childhood or adolescence. They occur in 40% of people over 50 years old.

5. Constipation

Constipation can be a consequence of ignoring the urge to use the bathroom.

If you keep your stool in for a long time on a constant basis, this system will start to fail. According to information in the journal Medicine, this will cause you to lack control of your bowel movements or make your poop become hard and very difficult to get rid of.

In conclusion, don’t fight the urge to go to the bathroom. Wherever you are, if you need to go, then go. Furthermore, don’t feel embarrassed: it’s something normal that happens to everyone. Think about your health first, and take care of yourself.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Kiela PR, Ghishan FK. Physiology of Intestinal Absorption and Secretion. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2016;30(2):145–159. doi:10.1016/j.bpg.2016.02.007
  • Araghizadeh F. Fecal impaction. Clin Colon Rectal Surg. 2005;18(2):116–119. doi:10.1055/s-2005-870893
  • Amarillo, H. R., & Amarillo, H. A. (2009). Hemorroides y sus complicaciones. Cirugía Digestiva.
  • Lohsiriwat V. Hemorrhoids: from basic pathophysiology to clinical management. World J Gastroenterol. 2012;18(17):2009–2017. doi:10.3748/wjg.v18.i17.2009
  • Vergara, A. (2010). Sangre oculta en heces. Revista Médica de Costa Rica y Centroamérica.
  • Forootan M, Bagheri N, Darvishi M. Chronic constipation: A review of literature. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018;97(20):e10631. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000010631

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.