Proponents of squat toilets and toilet stools say that they offer a more natural way to poop by placing your body in the best position for a bowel movement. But do they really put you in the best position to poop? We take a closer look at the potential benefits of these trendy toilets and toilet accessories.
What Is a Squat Toilet?
Squat toilets are commonly referenced in viral social media posts these days, but their use dates back to ancient times, and squat toilets are still used in Asia, the Middle East and some parts of Europe. These toilets are typically placed low to or even set in the ground, with two spots on either side on which to place your feet. Rather than sitting on a seat, as you would on a Western-style toilet, you squat over the bowl.
Modern interpretations, such as the Squatty Potty and the Step and Go, simulate the experience by having you place a stool around the base of a standard Western-style toilet. This provides a platform to lift your legs into a squatting position, mimicking the stance you would get from a traditional squat toilet.
Fans of squat toilets say that this toilet style puts the user in a posture that’s more natural and more bowel-movement friendly, and there may be some merit to their claims. For instance, one study found that people took on average just 51 seconds to move their bowels when squatting, compared with 130 seconds when sitting on a throne toilet. This might be because squatting helps relax the muscles in your pelvis and allows the colon to straighten into a more natural position. Other research shows that people strain less when squatting, which could reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoids.
The evidence is definitely intriguing. However, that doesn’t mean you should immediately replace or change your current toilet. If you’re consuming enough fiber, getting regular exercise, drinking plenty of water and taking other steps toward good bowel health, you should be able to regularly go to the bathroom — and use any kind of toilet — without straining.
If you are experiencing constipation, it’s time to look at your lifestyle. You’re more likely to become constipated if you have one or more of these risk factors:
- Insufficient fluid intake
- Overuse of laxative medications
- Insufficient exercise
- Lengthy bed rest
- Frequent delaying of the need to have a bowel movement
- Spasm of the anal sphincter
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Thyroid problems
- Neurological diseases
- Schedule changes due to travel
- Poor diet — especially one low in fiber, for example
Certain medications — including pain relievers, opioids, antidepressants and iron supplements — can also cause constipation. Be sure to consult with your physician to address any of these issues, if you have them, and see if they help resolve constipation.
If you want to give squatting a try, a quick internet search will return a wide variety of squatting stool options that can help you modify your existing toilet easily and inexpensively, and possibly provide you with a more natural way to poop.
For information about preventing constipation and staying regular, talk to your physician or a health professional at Lahey Health.