Never Spend This Long Going to the Bathroom, Doctor Warns

You may not even realize you're taking this much time to relieve yourself.

When nature calls, we must be quick to answer. Whether you get the call after a two-hour road trip or during your 10-minute train ride home, you know the feeling of relief that comes with arriving at the bathroom. But however you're relieving yourself, you're probably not putting a lot of thought into how long you spend doing so. According to doctors, if you're spending an unusual amount of time on the toilet, you might want to reevaluate your habits. Read on to learn more about the toilet time limit you need to keep in mind.

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Don't spend more than five minutes pooping.

Woman holding toilet paper going into bathroom

While your pee breaks may be quick, the time it takes you to poop is often a different story. And if it's on the longer side, that shouldn't be ignored. Speaking to the Cleveland Clinic in 2018, colorectal surgeon Michael Valente, DO, revealed that pooping should not take more than a few minutes.

"You should be able to sit down on the toilet (with minimal straining, if any), and within a few minutes you should be done going to the bathroom," he said. "Five minutes really should be the maximum time you spend in the bathroom."

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If it takes more than 15 minutes to poop, it could be a sign of constipation.

close up of woman's hand pulling toilet paper

Colorectal surgeon Karen Zaghiyan, MD told Healthline in 2018 that if you don't have an urge to poop, you shouldn't be sitting on the toilet anymore. "If a bowel movement is not produced after a couple of minutes on the john, don't force it," she said. "Instead, get up and go do something else. When you have the urge to go again, you may return to the toilet."

If your bathroom time is reaching 15 minutes or longer, that could be a sign of a bigger issue, like constipation. According to the Mayo Clinic, constipation can be described as difficulty passing stools for several weeks or only having three bowel movements a week.

In some cases, constipation can result in serious consequences, including swelling of the collection of veins in the region, also known as hemorrhoids. Zaghiyan told Healthline that sitting on the toilet, especially when trying to force yourself to poop, may "cause the hemorrhoids to engorge with blood, causing symptoms such as pain, swelling, or bleeding."

Adding more fiber to your diet can make it easier to use the bathroom. 

Foods high in fiber
margouillat photo/Shutterstock

Certain eating and drinking habits could be the reason you're spending so much time on the toilet. "No one should, in theory, take that long to have a bowel movement," Niket Sonpal, MD, adjunct assistant professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, told Romper in 2020. "This means the person is not getting enough water, and the stools are too hard. They are not getting enough fiber, and the stools are not bulky enough."

In order to make it easier to poop, adding more fiber to your diet could make a significant difference. According to the Mayo Clinic, a high fiber diet can not only give you healthier bowel movements, but it can also help lower cholesterol levels.

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Limit distractions when using the bathroom.

Women on phone when sitting on toilet
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Aside from your diet, there are a number of distractions that could be keeping you on the toilet longer than is ideal, and even holding you up when you should be focusing on the task at hand. "Don't take the newspaper, your book, your iPhone, or any other device in there with you," Valente told the Cleveland Clinic. "The bathroom is meant for one reason and one reason only—and that's to empty your bladder and have a proper bowel movement."

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