If flushing the toilet doesn’t make everything go down, there might be a bigger problem than simple embarrassment.
It turns out this little nightmare could be gut-related, explains Dr Thato Mosehle, second runner-up of the Miss Supranational pageant and host of her Instagram talk series, #ChooseDayTalks with Dr Thato.
Why your poop won’t flush
Through the magic of digestion, our body breaks down food: Nutrients and fluids are absorbed and all the unused bits are disposed of through the back passage.
An occasional “floater” is rarely a cause for concern but can occur for various reasons, Mosehle says.
She notes that fatty foods like fried or cheesy dishes, and red meats, are but one explanation.
“If you add oil to water the oil floats because it is less dense than water. So is a fatty stool.”
“If you eat a high-fat meal, sometimes the fat is not always absorbed by the body and it is rather released through your stool, making it harder to flush.”
You could also be too gassy, she says. “Your stool rises if it is full of gas.” Gas lowers the density of your stool, causing it to float. Many high-fibre foods like beans, Brussel sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower can cause some extra gas. “Sometimes it is just the foods you have eaten.”
When to seek medical attention
Poop that is sticky, greasy and difficult to flush can indicate a problem with digesting dietary fats.
If it persists, it is recommended that you seek medical advice.
“It is quite normal to have a stubborn stool now and then, but it is abnormal to have a persistently ‘unflushable’ stool, especially if there are changes in its colour, consistency and smell.”
“This could be a sign of malabsorption or a sign of liver problems. You should seek medical attention if your stool is persistently stubborn.”
Malabsorption refers to several disorders in which the small intestine cannot absorb enough nutrients and fluids.
But please note: Only seek advice once you’re also sure that the reason your floater won’t flush is not related to your toilet system, begs Mosehle. “We are doctors, not plumbers.”