Squatty Potty: Can It Help You Have More Satisfying Bowel Movements?

The "Squatty Potty" is a product designed to lift your legs up to a squatting position when using the toilet. The rationale behind the development of the Squatty Potty is that before the advent of modern toilets, all defecation was done in a squatting position and that our anatomy suggests that squatting leads to easier defecation.

The Squatty Potty is a solid piece of white molded plastic that you place at the base of your toilet. It is designed to be pushed back against your toilet when not in use, then pulled forward when you need it. In spite of the company's marketing verbiage that the Squatty Potty "complements & stores under any toilet," it is not discreet nor a style element. But it is a sleek, seemingly solid-made object.

How to Use the Squatty Potty

When you need to have a bowel movement, sit on your toilet as needed. You then pull the Squatty Potty into a position in which your knees are comfortably raised above the level of your hips. Once you have completed your business, you can push the Squatty Potty back toward the toilet for storage.

Does Squatting Help?

As we can see by looking at small children, or those living in third world societies, squatting is our natural position for a bowel movement. And believe it or not, scientists have actually conducted a few, small studies on the "sitting vs. squatting" debate.

Two of the studies that have been conducted to date were small and observational in nature, as opposed to a control-group treatment type study. One study found that the hip flexion that occurs when a person squats results in a straightening of the "rectoanal canal," which results in a diminished need for straining in order to empty the rectum of stool matter. The other study found that "satisfactory bowel emptying" required less effort when study participants were in squatting, as opposed to a sitting position during defecation.

Interestingly, the squatting/sitting debate included a theory that a rise in colon cancer rates in populations that become more "Westernized" might be related to the switch from squatting while defecating to using sitting toilets. One case-control study was conducted and the results indicated that the use of sitting toilets did not raise the risk for developing colon cancer.

To our knowledge, no studies have been conducted as to whether or not there is any relationship between the use of sitting toilets and constipation, nor have there been any studies as to whether using a squatting device such as the Squatty Potty would help to ease the symptoms of constipation.

Bottom Line

The Squatty Potty appears to be a sturdy aid for changing your posture to one of squatting while using the toilet. Although there is no research to support its use as a treatment for bowel movement problems, it would be hard to imagine that its use could do any harm. The product itself is not expensive, so if you find that straining while on the toilet is an issue for you, you might want to give the Squatty Potty a try. You can then judge for yourself if using the product provides you with the ease and satisfaction with your bowel movements that are associated with passing stool while in a squatting position.

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