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Doctor reveals medical reason why you have the sudden urge to go number two while shopping

Gastroenterologist explains science behind why people feel sudden urge to visit restroom in their favourite stores

Meredith Clark
New York
Thursday 18 January 2024 20:14 GMT
Related: How to improve your gut health

For those who can’t help but feel the sudden urge to use the bathroom every time they enter their favourite store, you’re not the only one. Now, a doctor has explained the scientific reason behind this so-called phenomenon.

Dr Joseph Salhab, also known as @thestomachdoc on social media, went viral after giving his Instagram followers an explanation why they need to go number two in stores like Target, Walmart, or Barnes & Noble. “The sudden urge to poop while shopping. Does this happen to you?” he began the clip, which has been liked more than 95,000 times.

The licenced gastroenterologist – a doctor who specialises in conditions affecting the digestive system – admitted that he had never heard of this supposed phenomenon until his followers informed him that when they visited a bookstore, they would immediately need to use the restroom. According to Salhab, the need to use the restroom while shopping might simply be because you feel more relaxed at your favourite store.

“It was described as early as 1985 in Japan, where people would enter bookstores and would have to immediately go number two,” Salhab continued. “The person who described it called it the Mariko Aoki phenomenon, but apparently it’s a real thing.”

The medical doctor explained that it’s unclear whether the urge is due to “some sort of stimulus” such as smelling fresh coffee or books and feeling more at peace. He said that the “anxiety of shopping” at any store could also trigger a diuretic effect.

“There are some people that go to specific stores every single day just to be able to use the restroom,” Salhab added.

It seemed that the gastroenterologist’s video struck a chord with many followers, who took to the comments section to admit that this has happened to them while shopping. What’s more, some users even revealed their favourite stores and establishments to go “number two”.

In the comments section, the official Instagram account for Barnes & Noble chimed in: “Oh. We know about it.”

“Libraries and Barnes & Noble,” another person admitted. “And craft stores. I didn’t know this was a thing lol!! Did I find my people??”

“Target and TJ Maxx!!!!!!!” a third user said. “I always thought it was because I’m relaxed and happy to be there. Annnd I’m sharing way too much on the internet.”

Someone else confessed they prefer to go number two in Walmart, but they always speculated it was because of “the lighting”.

“It’s called TJ Laxx,” one person joked, while another user exclaimed: “We have found our people in this comment section.”

This isn’t the first time someone has gone viral on social media for their bowel-related content. In fact, those who shared that they feel comfortable pooping in public restrooms may have found the perfect guide to luxury restrooms.

Back in September, TikToker Abbey Whalen gained thousands of followers after she posted a video of herself reviewing fancy restrooms. Her reviews specifically target high-end stores, such as Cartier and Louis Vuitton. Whalen’s theory is that the bathroom should be as nice as the expensive items people are likely buying from these stores.

For her bathroom reviews, Whalen gives each place a score of one to five. Her list of criteria includes the quality of the toilet paper and paper towels in the restroom. Whalen has also thrown in other random benchmarks, like the symmetry of flushes, the density of doors, and the brand, colour, and shape of the toilets themselves.

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