Pooping can have physiological and psychological effects that may feel pleasurable. Passing a bowel movement involves tension in certain muscles. Relaxing the muscles after a motion stimulates the vagus nerve, which may reduce heart rate and blood pressure.

This article explains why pooping may feel pleasurable. It also outlines some of the characteristics of a healthy poop and discusses some of the problems associated with not pooping.

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There are several reasons that pooping may feel good. The sections below outline some of these.

Stimulation of the pudendal nerve

One 2014 review notes that the pudendal nerve controls the anal sphincter. This nerve is also the main nerve of the perineum and genitals. It carries sensations from the urethra and clitoris in females and sensations from the penis in males.

Stimulation of the pudendal nerve during pooping may result in feelings of pleasure.

Stimulation of the vagus nerve

The vagus nerve is a long nerve that runs from the colon to the brainstem. This nerve helps regulate multiple bodily functions and plays an important role in the following physiological reactions:

  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • laughing
  • vomiting
  • pooping

Passing bowel movements engages certain muscles in the colon and rectum. Once the body releases poop, these muscles relax, causing excitation of the vagus nerve.

One 2020 article notes that this excitation can cause reductions in heart rate and blood pressure. A person may experience these physiological effects as a brief period of relaxation.

Psychological effects

Anecdotally, there may also be a psychological aspect to feeling good after pooping.

The sensation or urge to poop may feel both physically and mentally uncomfortable. Since pooping eases this discomfort, it may make the person feel good.

Although the frequency of bowel movements varies among people, one 2020 article notes that the average person poops one to three times per day.

Passing regular bowel movements is necessary for cleansing the colon of:

  • undigested foods
  • waste products
  • harmful or excessive bacteria

Passing regular bowel movements also helps clear space in the colon for new fecal matter to occupy.

The primary function of having bowel movements is to remove waste from the body. However, the waste itself can also provide information about a person’s diet and digestive health.

The sections below outline some characteristics that people can use to assess their digestive health.

Stool consistency

The consistency of stool can be an indicator of bowel health. One 2016 study notes that the Bristol Stool Form Scale (BSFS) is a useful and accurate gauge of stool consistency in healthy individuals.

Healthy stools

According to the BSFS, healthy stools are generally solid, smooth, and sausage shaped. The stool releases easily from the bowels and does not require the person to force or strain excessively.

Noticing this type of stool may be an indicator of a good transit time, which is the time it takes for food to exit the body.

Unhealthy stools

Changes in stool consistency may indicate digestive issues. For example, constipation may present as stools that are:

  • small
  • ball shaped
  • tightly packed
  • difficult to pass

Stools with the above characteristics may indicate a slow transit time, since the body pulls more water from the poop the longer it sits in the bowels. This may also be a symptom of dehydration.

On the other hand, very watery poop may be a symptom of a fast transit time. Diarrhea can be the result of a gastrointestinal infection or some other underlying health condition.


The color of stool may also provide an indication as to a person’s digestive health. As one 2019 review notes, stools that are generally healthy tend to be brown due to the presence of digestive substances, such as bile and bilirubin. In young children, however, the color may be green.

Stool color can change slightly based on factors such as what a person eats.

At other times, color changes may be an indicator of an underlying health issue. For example, bright red, dark brown, or black stool may indicate intestinal bleeding.

Anyone concerned about the color of their poop should contact their doctor.


It is normal for poop to smell somewhat unpleasant. This is due to the presence of certain bacteria and organic compounds in the colon.

However, passing very foul smelling poop can sometimes indicate a reduced ability to digest certain foods. Depending on the individual, this may include dairy products or foods high in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs).

An inability to break down certain foods will trigger the release of different gases. This can result in smelly stools, smelly flatulence, and other digestive symptoms.


The average poop size varies from person to person. However, a drastic change in poop size can sometimes signal an underlying health issue.

For example, one 2012 review notes that chronic or severe constipation may lead to fecal impaction. This refers to when an especially large accumulation of hard stool becomes lodged in the colon.

Although a one-off or temporary change in poop size is typically not a cause for concern, anyone who notices significant and prolonged changes should contact their doctor.

Although the time between poops can vary from person to person, regular pooping is important for a healthy digestive system.

People should try to poop when they feel the urge to do so. They should neither delay nor excessively force a bowel movement, as doing so can lead to complications.

As one 2015 review notes, poop is about 75% water. Delaying a bowel movement causes the body to draw water out of the stools, which can result in harder stools that are more difficult to pass.

Some other possible complications of delaying pooping include:

People who routinely hold in their poop may experience additional issues, such as chronic constipation or fecal incontinence.

Pooping is an essential bodily function that eliminates waste and makes space in the digestive system.

Pooping may feel good for a number of reasons. For example, passing stool involves the contraction and release of certain muscles, as well as the stimulation of certain nerves. Some of these nerves provide pleasurable feelings when activated.

Also, because the urge to poop can feel uncomfortable, the act of pooping releases this discomfort, which may feel pleasurable.

There are individual variations in the consistency, color, smell, and size of poop.

However, anyone who notices a drastic change in their poop or in the frequency of their bowel movements that has no clear cause or does not resolve in few days should contact a doctor. Such changes can sometimes indicate an underlying health issue.