There’s something undeniably Shakespearean about a hangover poop. It may not be a tragic love story between two people per se, but it’s undeniably harrowing, climactic and humorous, and its irreverence is open to myriad interpretations.
For a more recent literary endorsement, Charles Bukowski dug them too (admittedly, this is less surprising). In his 1982 novel, Ham on Rye, he claims: “There was nothing really as glorious as a good beer shit — I mean after drinking 20 or 25 beers the night before. The odor of a beer shit like that spread all around and stayed for a good hour-and-a-half. It made you realize that you were really alive.”
On Reddit, meanwhile, it’s been described as “magical” and “insane:” One redditor went so far as to say that a smarter man could have, “harnessed the power of that dark flow to generate power for half a nation,” admitting that all he was capable of doing was to sit there and weep. Another redditor even claimed that the only thing they even missed about drinking was the “liquid sludge” that was sure to follow.
It’s a universal experience: Whether you want to call them beershits, DADS (day-after-drinking stool) or a beeriod, the one thing all hangover poops have in common is their inconsistent consistency. Hangover poops aren’t so much hardened stool as they are a black nectar so toxic that even a person who appreciates their own smell is likely to hold their breath.
But what makes them this way?
According to Anish Sheth, co-author of What’s Your Poo Telling You?, they happen because alcohol acts as a stimulant for the gastrointestinal tract, causing its contents to move downstream more quickly. “Depending on the liquor type, it can also be a large carb load (think malt liquor) which can cause the runs,” Sheth writes over email.
To that end, alcohol also affects the muscles around your stomach and intestines that help digest your food. “It reduces contractions in the rectum, which might ‘reduce the transit time — and, thus compaction’ of the food in your large intestine which, again, can cause diarrhea,” reports Wired. There’s also the fact that your colon has less time to absorb the water in your body, which makes for a softer if not watery, poop.
Per Sheth, the reduction in transit time is the big reason for that rancid smell coming from your porcelain sludge bowl. “When gut transit increases, it leaves less time for proper digestion, which can make stool runnier and smellier,” says Sheth.