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‘No poop July’ jokes are all over TikTok. Some doctors urge users not to try it for real.

NBC News logo NBC News 7/26/2022 Kalhan Rosenblatt
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"No Poop July" is taking over "For You" pages on TikTok again, and some doctors are hoping users do not take the challenge seriously.

The trend involves young people, often men, pretending they haven't had a bowel movement since the beginning of the month. Videos show men sweating profusely while fighting the urge to defecate while a crowd cheers them on. The videos often include what day of "No Poop July" the alleged participant is on.

The videos are clearly jokes, and it does not appear the TikTok users are seriously preventing themselves from having a bowel movement all month long.

Still, some doctors warn that the trend should remain a joke, saying those who are successful at holding in their bowel movements could disrupt their GI health. That could cause issues like hemorrhoids and a temporary dependency on laxatives for regular bowel movements.

“It’s a funny thing to joke about but it’s a potentially serious thing to do,” said Dr. Steven Miller, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

Miller discourages those who may be tempted to avoid going a whole month without using the bathroom.

"No Poop July" likely dates back as early as 2020 when a Reddit post said the phrase was trending on TikTok. Some joked about their valiant attempts at completing "No Poop July" again in 2021, and then trend kicked up again early this month. On TikTok, the hashtag has now amassed more than 112 million views.

Google Trends shows the term started to pick up traction in 2020 and has become more popular each July since, with "No Poop July" roughly tripling in worldwide popularity this year.

“Obviously, we hope that no one takes it seriously,” said Dr. Austin Chiang, a gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at Jefferson Health.

Chiang, who has amassed about 564,000 followers on TikTok, has been monitoring the trend since last year. He said when it came across his "For You" page again this year, he was inspired to make a duet.

"Thoughts and prayers," he wrote in the video's caption, responding to someone's alleged attempt at the trend.

The good news, according to Chiang, is that if anyone with a normal, healthy gut attempts the challenge, it's likely their bowels won't allow them to complete "No Poop July."

"Honestly, people who have regular, normal functioning GI tracts are not going to have this issue because their body is going to want to get rid of their waste," he said. "So it's not like they have a choice in holding it in."

Ultimately, Chiang said people should follow their body's natural urges.

"Even though it's [No Poop July] a joke, we encourage people to still go to the bathroom regularly," Chiang said, "like their bodies tell them to."

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