Rhypophobia- Fear of defecation

Bowel movement is a normal bodily function and everybody has to move their bowels at least once a day or once every two days to eliminate the body’s wastes. For most of us, it is a relief to be able to move one’s bowels and defecate but for others who are constipated, this can be a traumatic experience.

Fear of painful bowel movements or bowel movement is called rhypophobia or defecaloesiophobia and it can be due to a painful and traumatic experience in the past like having really hard stools that had to be manually extracted by a physician, or having really hard stools that caused your rectum to bleed. This is traumatic for any person and this can trigger the phobia. Others might have developed this fear because of the presence of hemorrhoids. These engorged blood vessels in the rectal wall can be extremely painful and one may associate bowel movement with pain even if it is not anymore.

Some people will try to hold their bowel movement as much as possible but in the end aggravating the situation because the stool hardens and it gets more painful to move ones bowels. Others will try to eat high fiber diet and may opt to use stool softeners and laxatives all the time.

Treatment involves behavioral and cognitive psychotherapy. Diet modification is also advised. Stool softeners and laxatives may be given initially but one must be educated that one can develop a dependence on laxatives thus they should try to avoid using this all the time.