One of the main causes of anal fissures and hemorrhoids is straining during bowel movements. The position the body is in when using Western-style toilets often requires “pushing” to pass stool. Asian-squat toilets are much different than their Western-style counterparts.
Asian-squat toilets come in many forms, but the way the all work is the same. One basically squats over a hole or bowl in the ground or on a raised platform or bowl with your feet spaced about shoulder-width apart. I prefer the squat toilets I came across while travelling in India, as they tend to be indented and level with the floor making it much easier to squat. Other variations of squat toilets have raised edges that do require some balancing while doing your business.
Squat Toilets and Hemorrhoids
While many wild health claims have been made about squat toilets – the real benefit of these toilets is the posture needed for defecation. While squatting the posture of the body makes it easier to defecate by taking pressure off the abdomen and aligning the anal canal in such a way it is much easier to pass a stool.
Basically, when you sit on a conventional Western-style toilet you put a curve or kink in your anal canal. Using a squat toilet removes this kink and gives your feces a straight path to freedom.
Many studies have shown that squatting while defecating makes it easier to pass a stool and often dramatically decreases the average time of bowel movements. And while I am sure it is possible – I would assume that much less smartphone browsing and magazine reading takes place while using a squat toilet – it’s all business.
So, the benefits of squat toilets for hemorrhoid suffers are pretty clear – less pushing and straining during bowel movements and less time “sitting” on the toilet putting strain on your anal canal and sphincter. Another benefit I have found from using squat toilets is that bowel movements tend to be “cleaner” as this position allows your butt-cheeks to spread apart rather than squish together like they do when using a Western-style toilet.
While in India, I became a big fan of squat toilets and have found that I actually prefer them over Western-style toilets. In, fact I have found a way to replicate the squat toilet experience at home.
Finding Sqaut-style Toilets in the States
I have not purchased or made my own squat toilet. While there are manufacturers in the U.S. and other Western countries that do make squat toilets – I prefer to use a cheaper and more accessible method which I like to call the “modified squat.”
To achieve the modified squat position I use a small rubbermaid foot stool that is kept in the restroom so the kids can reach the sink and brush their teeth. I sit on the Western-style toilet and rest my feet on the foot stool. This places my body in a near squat position and provides the same benefits as a full squat toilets, at least from my experience.
These foot stools are available in varying heights and range in price depending on style and material. The only suggestion I would make when purchasing one of these stools is your height and the height of your toilet. You’re going to want to choose a foot rest that will allow your knees to be 3-4 inches above your waistline while sitting on the toilet. This position will take the curve out of your anal canal and make it easier to pass your bowel movement. Pair this modified squat position with a regular Metamucil® regimen, and you’ll most-likely find yourself self in a state of hemorrhoid free bliss.
Of course, for the more adventurous of you among our readers – it is possible to do a full squat on top of the toilet seat. But, we don’t recommend this as it does take a fair amount of skill and balance. We recommend sticking with the modified squat position for safety and ease of use.