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20.2: Flatulence

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    Learning Objectives

    • Flatulence: Are you embarrassed by your flatus?

    Research conducted by

    Shannon E. Collins, UH-D undergraduate,

    Faculty Advisor: Heidi Ziemer

    Case study prepared by

    Shannon E. Collins


    The purpose of this study was to find out whether or not people are embarrassed by their flatulence. The participants were \(35\) University of Houston – Downtown students. Flatulence is a normal part of being human, but it can cause an alarming rate of embarrassment in certain situations. How many times have you been subjected to the unpleasant odor emitted from someone around you? Medical research indicates that it is normal to have anywhere from \(7\) to \(20\) episodes of gas in a day.

    Would you believe that women produce more of the bad smelling stuff than men do, and that women are more likely to complain to their doctors about the smell of their flatulence? The smell comes from sulfur gasses, the most offensive of which is hydrogen sulfide; it smells like rotten eggs. Still, everybody does it, we just don’t know how embarrassed they are by it.

    Questions to Answer

    Are people without male siblings more embarrassed by their flatulence than people with one or more male siblings? Do people that come from households where flatulence was acceptable report less embarrassment than people that come from households where it was not acceptable? Are women or men more embarrassed by their flatus?

    Design Issues

    Embarrassment scores were reported on \(14\) different measures and tallied as a total embarrassment score, then divided into seven categories, producing one number per category. Only the scores on the seven categories are reported here. The data in this research is self report data, and because the topic is sensitive some people may have been less than honest about their reported flatulence.

    Descriptions of Variables

    Table \(\PageIndex{1}\): Description of variables
    Variable Description
    Gender 1 = male, 2 = female
    famaccp Household acceptance of flatus
    1 to 7, 1=very acceptable and 7=very unacceptable
    brother Number of brothers the participant has
    howlong How long before farting in front of partner?
    1 = 1 year, .5= 6 months, .25=3 months, and smaller decimals represent portions of a year. Numbers larger than 1 indicate longer than 1 year.
    perday Number per day
    Embarrassing Situations The following variables were rated on this scale: 1=extremely embarrassed and 7= not really embarrassed
    mtgwork Meeting at work
    talkprof Talking to a professor
    romint Romantic interest

    Data files



    • Chapman, S. (2001 December 22). Hot Air? BMJ: British Medical Journal. 323(7327). Retrieved from, Health source database.
    • Gases of the Gut. Harvard Health Letter. August 2002. 27(10).
    • Hughes, L. (October 1999). 10 Tips on How to Fend Off Embarrassing Flatulence. Environmental Nutrition. 22(10). Retrieved from, Health source database.
    • Lecture Theatre Etiquette. (June 2000). Student BMJ. Vol. 8. Retrieved from, Health source database.
    • Manley, W. (October 1999). Noisome Rumblings. American Libraries Online. Retrieved from,
    • Robb-Nicholson, C. (March 2003). By The Way Doctor. Harvard Women’s Health Watch. 10(7). Retrieved from, Academic Edition of Health Source database.

    This page titled 20.2: Flatulence is shared under a Public Domain license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by David Lane via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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