Humans use one of two types of defecation postures to defecate: squatting, or sitting. People use the squatting postures when using squat toilets or when defecating in the open in the absence of toilets. The sitting posture on the other hand is used in toilets that have a pedestal or “throne”, where users generally lean forward or sit at 90-degrees to a toilet seat.
In general, the preferred posture is largely a cultural decision. However, people need to adapt their defecation posture to the toilet type available to them, e.g. while travelling or if moving to another country.
The sitting defecation posture involves sitting with hips and knees at approximately right angles, as on a chair. So-called “Western-style” flush toilets and also many types of dry toilets are designed to be used in a sitting posture.
Toilet seats are a recent development, only coming into widespread use in Europe in the nineteenth century.
Special devices exist in the form of “wrap-around foot stools” to allow users of western-style toilets to defecate in a posture that is somewhat similar to squatting.
The squatting defecation posture involves squatting, or crouching. It requires standing with knees and hips sharply bent and the buttocks close to the ground. Squat toilets are designed to facilitate this posture, and can be either with or without flushing water.
Squatting while defecating may increase the risk of severe hemorrhoids.
People who are not used to squat toilets, as well as overweight people, people with disabilities, and elderly people tend to find squatting as a defecation posture difficult, and may therefore prefer sitting.
Seven Advantages of Squatting
- Makes elimination faster, easier and more complete. This helps prevent “fecal stagnation,” a prime factor in colon cancer, appendicitis and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Protects the nerves that control the prostate, bladder and uterus from becoming stretched and damaged.
- Securely seals the ileocecal valve, between the colon and the small intestine. In the conventional sitting position, this valve is unsupported and often leaks during evacuation, contaminating the small intestine.
- Relaxes the puborectalis muscle which normally chokes the rectum in order to maintain continence.
- Uses the thighs to support the colon and prevent straining. Chronic straining on the toilet can cause hernias, diverticulosis, and pelvic organ prolapse.
- A highly effective, non-invasive treatment for hemorrhoids, as shown by published clinical research.
- For pregnant women, squatting avoids pressure on the uterus when using the toilet. Daily squatting helps prepare one for a more natural delivery.
Hemorrhoids Defecation Postures
Humans were evolutionarily designed to squat when defecating.
When we are standing up the bend between the rectum and the anus helps keep feces inside us. The more we bend towards a squat, the less that bend obscures the exit of feces from the anus and the harder the anal sphincter has to work to keep that feces inside us. In fact when we’re standing that bend – called the anorectal angle – is about a 90 degree angle.
Some small studies indicate that squatting can lead to a quicker poop that feels less like an effort than pooping while sitting.
Some claim that pooping on a toilet sitting up may contribute to hemorrhoids, hernias and diverticulitis. Hemorrhoids may be caused by straining during bowel movements. When you need to push harder to defecate because there is more resistance, veins in your anus swell. With hemorrhoids, those veins can stay swollen. Hemorrhoids are less prevalent in countries where squatting is more common. In fact in a small study, more than half of hemorrhoid sufferers improved when they began squatting when pooping. Some claim that squatting may reduce the incidence of colon cancer. In terms of hernias, one of the key causes is higher intra-admoninal pressures, and straining from bowel movements is thought to be one cause of hiatal hernias. Similarly, diverticulitis can be caused when naturally weak sections of the colon give way in response to high pressure. As a related added benefit, some claim that stored urine is also more thoroughly emptied when women squat to urinate.
All these studies and claims are preliminary and more work is needed. We really don’t know a lot about this yet.
Does that mean you need to start squatting? Not necessarily. You could lean forward when you poop. You won’t have gravity fully on your side, but you will be pooping at the angle at which you were designed to poop. Depending on how flexible you are, lean as far forward as you can and rest your elbows on your knees, or rest your wrists on your knees and just lean as far forward as you are able. Of course a small foot stool by your toilet could help you achieve more of a squat position, and a more gravitationally favorable angle.
Constipation, hemorrhoids and pose in the toilet
Hemorrhoids, intestinal pathologies and constipation are phenomena prevalent mainly in countries where bowel evacuation occurs as a “sitting on a chair” type. The reason for this, especially in young people, is not weak musculature, but just increased pressure on the intestines. The development of hemorrhoids, which are prominent from the cavity of the rectum, is one of the mechanisms of compensating for increased internal pressure in the abdominal cavity.
1.2 billion people, accustomed to cope with the need of squatting, do not suffer from hemorrhoids of the intestine. The more developed part of mankind, tiring every day, sooner or later faces problems, for the solution of which it is sent to a specialist. Is it really the payoff for a comfortable seat on the toilet seat instead of coping with an unusual way of sitting-squatting? But if only that!
Physicians are unanimous in the opinion that frequent tension of the abdominal wall and stiffness in the toilet are one of the reasons for the development of varicose veins. In addition, the risk of developing strokes increases and even there are cases of loss of consciousness during defecation.
In case of difficulty in the process of defecation, it is recommended to create a convenient angle for the sphincters of sphincters – to accept the squatting position.
In most of the Asian countries, countries of Africa and South America, people are in need of the pose of a weightlifter lifting a barbell or a skier at the next turn. We, on the contrary, spend time blissfully on the toilet, while simultaneously reading the newspaper, folding origami from toilet paper or just patiently looking at the opposite wall.