You think you’re safe. Tummy’s grumbling, gas a bubbling, and you want to let it out. A coworker leaves their desk and you have a moment of freedom. Assuming the other coworkers aren’t short of 20 feet downwind, you attempt to let the gas out, easy and quietly. But instead..no sound, no air….but a warm mushy, wet feeling takes over. Your shorts become heavy and woah…you’re soiled and so is your suit. What happened??? You’ve just become a victim of a shart…….
What is a Shart?
Made famous in the 2004 comedy, Along Came Polly, “shart” combines the words “S$%t” and “Fart”. Medically speaking, it’s when you pass stool instead of passing gas.
It may be a sign of gastrointestinal illness if happening frequently but usually its a rare occurrence, with negative consequences from a social perspective.
How can we tell if we’re about to Shart?
Fortunately sharting is predictable, but the signs are subtle.
Usually the fart prior to the shart is not very gassy. It’s usually small and you feel like you need to poop soon. If you forget and minutes later try to pass gas, poop will come out instead.
Most sharts involve wetter stool, since passing a constipated rock is not that easy and triggers the rectal sphincter to tighten a bit prior to passing. So if your stool is running loose, you may be more inclined to shart if you pass gas.
How can we prevent a Shart?
Firstly, have good bowel health. Eat foods that form stool that is firm but not hard.
Per this Bristol Stool Chart, types 4-5 are ideal.
Secondly try to stay on a predictable stooling cycle. If you have a bowel movement each morning before going to work, you hopefully should be less likely to need to poop during your shift.
Thirdly, eat a balanced diet that helps you have regular bowel movements and avoid foods that give you gas.
Fourthly, you can wear extra padding like I do…..
Finally, go to the bathroom when you feel the need to pass gas. If you’re sitting on a toilet, you’ll plop rather than shart, and your pants will thank ya.
Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.