This Is the Proper Way to Poop (Yes, There's a Right Way)

You're probably sitting wrong, holding it too long, and wiping too much, according to a GI expert.

person sitting on a toilet while clutching unrolled toilet paper

Pooping. It's one thing that you'd think you can't really screw up that badly, right? But it turns out, you've likely been doing it wrong all along. Here are some of the common mistakes — plus, the proper way to poop — according to a gastroenterologist.

You're sitting wrong.

To be fair, this isn't all your fault. "Modern plumbing is set up more for our convenience and the aesthetic than how we're designed," says Robynne Chutkan, M.D., an integrative gastroenterologist and author of The Bloat Cure. Meaning: If bowel health was the top priority, it would be socially acceptable to just dig a hole in the ground and be done with it. "We were designed to squat to poop. When we squat, the knees press up against the abs, which increases intra-abdominal pressure to help stool evacuate. When we sit on a toilet, our legs are at a right angle and that doesn't accomplish that," explains Dr. Chutkan.

Instead, you need to strain to have a bowel movement, which can lead to all sorts of problems — such as hemorrhoids and even a stretched-out sphincter, notes Dr. Chutkan. Yikes. To fix your pooping posture, she's a fan of the Squatty Potty, but if you're super flexible, you could even just pull your feet up onto the toilet seat as you sit on it to achieve the same intra-abdominal pressure, she says. (No judgment if you skip that suggestion.)

You hold it too long.

Everyone's been there. You have to go, but you're already running late to work or don't have access to a toilet, so you just hold off. That's not the best idea, though. "Your bowel has its own nervous system that can be trained," says Dr. Chutkan. "When you're getting a signal that you have to go and you don't, it causes bowel confusion, which can lead to constipation," she explains.

You take too long.

Just like when you hold it, when you hit the stalls with reading materials to keep your mind occupied, you're sending your bowels mixed signals. "Don't drag your phone, a book, a newspaper into the bathroom with you, because that's also a form of bowel training — you're saying, 'We have all day,' when you really want to be efficient, in and out," points out Dr. Chutkan.

You don't take a peek.

Yep, the proper way to poop involves not being too grossed out to check out the result. "I encourage people to TATAL — turn around and take a look," says Dr. Chutkan. You're looking at the color, consistency, and shape: The ideal bowel movement is darkish brown (or greenish if you eat a lot of plants) and not too pale, solid but not too firm or overly loose, and bulky — meaning, not too narrow or small.

You're over-wiping.

You should be wiping pretty clean, so you shouldn't need too much toilet paper to get the job done. If you need to go back for more and more, there's probably still stool in the rectum, and you should hang out on the toilet a little longer, suggests Dr. Chutkan.

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