What is a ghost poop?

The famed TikTok concept ‘ghost poop’ is explained by experts  (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The famed TikTok concept ‘ghost poop’ is explained by experts (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Though speaking about your business in the bathroom is typically taboo, one bowel concept has been making waves on TikTok, prompting widespread discussion.

Have you ever gone number two and turned around to find nothing but still water in the toilet bowl? Or felt like you needed to empty your bowels so badly that you rushed to the bathroom only to let out a gust of gas? What about when you poop, and zero marks are left on the toilet bowl’s sides? All these scenarios, while they seem quite exclusive, are defined under the same term – ghost poops.

According to Dr Sameer Islam, a gastroenterologist on YouTube and writer for Men’s Health, these puzzling bowel movements, or lack thereof, are completely normal. Feeling like you need to poop but only having gas, experiencing a poop that goes straight down the drain, or experiencing a clean poop that doesn’t leave a messy aftermath in the toilet, are the three kinds of ghost poops.

For the first form, Dr Islam said there’s a clear reason as to why you may have the urge to poop but can’t. “This is caused by having too much air in the colon and in the rectum as well,” the expert said in a 2021 article. “It innervates or activates the nerves inside your colon [and rectum] and gives you that urge to have a bowel habit.”

The excess air in the colon can be the result of eating fruits, vegetables, and dairy products – all gassy foods – or being constipated. Another probable cause is swallowing too much air.

Pooping and not seeing it in the toilet bowl or pooping without getting the inside of the toilet bowl dirty aren’t caused by anything worrisome. The poop was able to easily leave the body, slipping right into the water.

On YouTube, Dr Islam explained: “You may have had the magical poo — long, smooth, [with a] little splash, and it went straight into the drain ... I would celebrate [this].”

Health Digest characterizes ghost poops as “the most ideal bowel movement”.

“Ghost poops could mean that you’re eating (and properly digesting) all the right foods for a healthy bowel movement,” the outlet stated.

Amanda Sauceda, a registered dietician and nutritionist, noted how ghost poops are also signs of substantial hydration. She told the New York Post that if you wipe and there’s nothing on the toilet paper, you’re drinking a good amount of water.

“If you’re wiping and there’s no residue on the paper, that can mean your diet has a good amount of fiber in it and you’re adequately hydrated,” Sauceda explained.

That said, the goal shouldn’t be to never see your poop again. In fact, regularly checking your poop can help identify any underlying health issues like colon cancer, infections, digestive problems, or bleeding. Stool tests are a common method of checking feces.

“A stool analysis is a series of tests done on a stool (feces) sample to help diagnose certain conditions affecting the digestive tract,” My Health Alberta stated.

The outlet further explained: “For a stool analysis, a stool sample is collected in a clean container and then sent to the laboratory. Laboratory analysis includes microscopic examination, chemical tests, and microbiologic tests. The stool will be checked for color, consistency, amount, shape, and the presence of mucus.”