Disgusting bar bathrooms have trained you to only squat, never sit. But this might just be a toilet habit that you should break.
Let's face it, there are certain times when you'd rather hold it than sit on a gross toilet seat. Whether it's a dirty bathroom at the bar or a road trip without a rest stop in sight, sometimes you just need to squat while you pee. Despite it being a pretty good workout for your legs (although you're definitely sacrificing your form in these cases), are there any risks involved in choosing to squat instead of sit? Or are you only reaping the rewards of avoiding unknown germs? Urologist Matthew Karlovsky, M.D., drops some surprising truths about this super-common practice that many women are forced to adopt behind closed doors (or nearby bush).
First, you should know that there are two types of squatting that can occur. (And no, neither of them require a kettlebell—we're looking at you, goblet squat.)
There's the kind of squat you have to do when you're in the middle of nowhere with a full bladder. This squat is unobstructed and maybe even goes lower than when you sit down, as there's no fear of touching a grimy unisex toilet.
Then there's the "semi-squat," says Karlovsky. This is when you're hovering over the toilet seat to avoid butt-to-seat contact at all costs. Some women may even pee like this all the time, whether for the quickie workout or for germaphobe reasons. (No judgment.)
Karlovsky explains that fully squatting (let's call it the outside method) is preferred—if you really must squat—because your pelvic floor muscles and bladder are more relaxed in this position. But with the semi-squat, bad bladder habits can form and secondary problems can occur over time.
The semi-squat pose is never a good option, Karlovsky explains, because you're using your pelvic muscles in a way that is not natural. "You are training your muscles to not relax," he says. "After many years, the bladder can become weaker." Peeing in this position often means you'll retain urine, which puts you at higher risk for urinary tract infections—not to mention the disconcerting feeling of always needing to pee.
While it's hard to choose between sitting on a nasty-looking public toilet seat or getting a UTI, Karlovsky explains that everyone is different and problems may never occur from squatting. But next time, instead of risking it, why not try to develop a different habit: Take a few seconds to lay down some protective toilet paper and just take a seat, girl.