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Defecation Occurrence Facts After Death

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At the moment of death, your soul may be subject to judgment by Anubis or enlisted to kick an infinite number of asses in Valhalla for the glory of Odin, depending on your present religious affiliation. But overall, the effects on your body are less metallic. Now we return to our viewers’ incessant pursuit of having the authorities look at their search history—do people truly defecate just after they die?

Now meet Caitlin Doughty, a mortician. “It depends on how much poop you have to give,” Doughty said. I don’t have a precise scientific figure for the percentage of persons that defecate upon passing away, but it does occur.

We were disappointed to see that no one has ever conducted a scientific study on the frequency of postmortem bowel movements (or, as it turns out, peeing, which occurs with some amount of frequency).

But we wanted to find some credible people, so we contacted Scott Hiskey, a long-time paramedic and co-host of the amazing and funny podcast Medical Confessions. His knowledge and experience make him an ideal choice. In response, Scott contacted several of his fellow medics and is likely on his way to an appointment with human resources to discuss sensitivity training and appropriate email usage at work.

When It Came Time to Poop After Death, What Was Everyone’s Opinion?

Depends on what they died from was a common qualifier in nearly every response. Nonetheless, participants in this study agreed, on average, that persons defecate themselves anywhere from twenty percent to fifty percent of the time, either just before or shortly after they pass away. Regarding a selection of straight quotations in answer to the question, Scott stated,

Maybe not if it was just a person using the restroom right before they passed away. There probably won’t be any pee in their bladder if they’re having kidney troubles. I would estimate a far higher number, somewhere between 80 and 90%, if allergy or organophosphate exposure were the cause of death. We just tell everyone to “be careful, code brown” and move on because this happens so frequently that it hardly warrants our attention.

A Different Medical Professional Reported That

Poop is gross to me. I’d say eighty percent because the event itself is more memorable to me. I probably only recall the times it happens, but if I’m being really honest, it’s about 50%. I just pay so much attention. However, it is conditional upon the reason. I’d say I’m bracing myself for an allergic reaction, or I’m just going to assume it happened because they’re wearing a “Depends” and can’t help it anyhow. Then you should just let the coroner handle it and not bother looking.

In another instance, the medic’s spouse worked as a nurse. All of them agreed:

  • For what reason did they pass away? Assuming an allergic reaction was the cause of death, I would say it is likely to happen. In any case, I’d estimate 20-30%, though it’s very cause-dependent.
  • Everyone appears to agree that there’s a 20% to 50% probability of passing gas either just before or after death, based on these and other comments; however, no one has ever bothered to keep track. Having said that, we are considering quietly beginning to tally the responses to our query over the next year or two to acquire a sufficient sample size to publish a genuine study for science.

So, the Question Becomes, Why Does This Occur?

  • At the moment of death, the body’s muscles relax. This relaxation extends to the anal sphincter, the muscle responsible for controlling the release of feces, leading to potential defecation.
  • As life support ceases and the body’s systems shut down, there is a loss of muscle control. The anal sphincter, like other muscles, can involuntarily release feces due to this relaxation.
  • The autonomic nervous system, responsible for regulating involuntary bodily functions, might also play a role. The shutdown of this system during the dying process may contribute to the release of bodily waste.
  • Upon death, the body may expel gases and fluids due to the cessation of metabolic processes. These processes, combined with the relaxed muscles, can lead to the discharge of fecal matter.
  • The body’s circulation collapses after death, leading to changes in blood pressure and vascular dynamics. This might impact the movement and release of bodily fluids and waste.
  • Certain medical conditions, especially those impacting the digestive or urinary systems, might increase the likelihood of postmortem defecation. Conditions causing bloating or gas accumulation might exacerbate this occurrence.
  • The cause of death can influence the likelihood of postmortem defecation. Allergic reactions, certain toxins, or organophosphate exposure might increase the chances due to their impact on bodily functions.
  • Studies or anecdotal evidence suggest a wide range (20-50%) of incidents. However, this frequency remains largely uncertain due to a lack of formal research and varied responses from medical professionals.

Statistics On Defacating After Death

  • Anecdotal evidence from medical professionals suggests a range of postmortem defecation incidents between 20% to 50%. However, this data lacks formal scientific backing or standardized tracking, leading to variability in reported frequencies.
  • Specific medical conditions might heighten the likelihood of postmortem defecation. Instances, where the cause of death involves allergic reactions or organophosphate exposure, tend to result in higher frequencies of defecation after death.
  • At the moment of death, muscle relaxation occurs across the body, including the anal sphincter. This involuntary relaxation of muscles can contribute to the discharge of fecal matter after death.
  • The shutdown of the autonomic nervous system during the dying process might influence postmortem defecation. This system regulates involuntary bodily functions and its cessation can affect waste expulsion.
  • Despite anecdotal evidence and observations from medical professionals, there is a distinct lack of formal scientific studies and standardized data collection methods. This absence contributes to the variability in reported frequencies and a lack of concrete statistics regarding this phenomenon.

The History Around This Phenomena

Throughout history, anecdotes and observations from medical professionals and morticians have hinted at the phenomenon of postmortem defecation. These anecdotes, often shared through oral traditions or within medical circles, reflected an awareness of this occurrence without formal scientific study.

Early medical texts and historical documentation occasionally referenced the phenomenon, albeit not as a primary focus. These references were typically embedded within broader discussions of death, decomposition, or bodily functions, showcasing a historical recognition of the event.

In recent decades, with advancements in medical practices and forensic sciences, there’s been increased interest in documenting postmortem occurrences. However, this area remains underexplored within the formal scientific literature, relying largely on anecdotal evidence rather than robust empirical studies.

The phenomenon gained more attention through the observations and insights of medical professionals, particularly those working in emergency medicine, paramedicine, and forensic pathology. These individuals, based on their experiences, have contributed to the current understanding of this postmortem process.

Despite the historical awareness and recent interest, there remains a distinct lack of comprehensive scientific studies examining postmortem defecation in detail. This absence of formal studies has led to a reliance on sporadic observations and anecdotal evidence, limiting a comprehensive historical record or deep understanding of the phenomenon.

Despite historical mentions and contemporary observations by medical professionals, a comprehensive understanding of postmortem defecation eludes us. The lack of extensive empirical research in this area emphasizes the need for structured scientific inquiry.