Why do men take a long time to defecate? The answer is complicated.

Dear BodyWorks & Querks,

My husband spends a lot of time on the toilet. i don't get it! Why can't he come in and out like I do? He's not the only guy I know who seems to take a long time to poop. So what gives?

– Always waiting for the bathroom

There are a lot of sitcom jokes about men spending too much time in the bathroom, and this isn't just a myth: Obviously, men spend more time on the toilet than women, according to a survey conducted by a UK bathroom retailer. Yes, some time will likely be spent defecating, but with… The average bowel movement takes only 12 seconds And experts say so five minutes It should be the maximum — most people only move their bowels once or twice a dayMen are clearly not like that Just On the toilet doing their business. what's going? Here's what you should know.

Are men more likely to suffer from constipation than women?

This would be an easy explanation, but experts say no. “I think anyone who knows a man knows that men spend more time on the toilet or on the toilet than women, but in fact they are less likely to have bowel problems and chronic constipation than women.” Dr. Kyle Stallera gastroenterologist and director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, tells Yahoo Live.

Women are the ones who may suffer from defecation Due to hormonal fluctuations, constipation is more likely to occur during pregnancy, before menstruation, and after menopause. However, they do not have the reputation of sitting on the toilet for hours.

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What biological causes may play a role here?

If men in general have no difficulty going to the toilet, why do they spend so much time on the toilet? There may be a biological explanation, Madison simmonsThe fact is that men are more likely to feel relaxed while on the toilet than women, a digestive psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic tells Yahoo Life.

First, you need to know about the body's sympathetic nervous system, which regulates the fight-or-flight response, and its antidote, the parasympathetic nervous system, which stimulates relaxation. In order to digest food, your body must be in that parasympathetic state. Men are more easily able to switch between sympathetic and parasympathetic states, whereas women do not have this “two-way switch” and will remain in this state of sympathetic arousal for longer, until they feel exhausted.

What does this have to do with defecation? Well, it's possible, according to Simmons, that for men, a parasympathetic relaxation switch may be activated, as their bodies pull them out of sympathetic arousal and “encourage the rest and digest function.” Essentially, men may spend more time on the toilet because as they digest food, they feel cold – and they may “spend time in this relaxed state before returning to their lives again.”

Other explanations for why men sit on the toilet for a long time

Although no formal research studies have been done on this, surveys may offer an idea of ​​what men actually do in the bathroom – because it's certainly not a long defecation session. For one thing, Men are more likely to read while on the toiletAccording to a German survey conducted by the Consumer Research Association. They are More likely to scroll on their phoneaccording to a 2017 survey from the University of Oxford and the University of Canberra.

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Then there's the fact that women are Beyond the ordinary Many men experience the social stigma of taking second place around others, with Staller noting that it is usually acceptable for men to acknowledge the fact that they have bowel movements. Women may want to get in and out, while men aren't necessarily interested in staying in the bathroom.

“I hear this from my patients every day — they may feel embarrassed to talk about bowel movements, or even admit that they're having a bowel movement,” says Staller. “Sometimes, going to the bathroom is a secret event and not meant to be acknowledged. For men, they tend to be more embracing and acknowledging that the bathroom is their time. I think there's an element of socialization there as well.”

Then, there's the final angle, which can be equal parts infuriating and relatable: Men may see the bathroom as a true sanctuary — a place where there are no responsibilities or expectations. “You won't be asked to make food for the kids or solve a problem at work if you're sitting on the bathroom,” Simons says. “There's a sense of security that comes with that — you're very aware nowadays that there's only one job to do.”

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