What Is the Squatty Potty and Does It Really Work?
Squatty Potty reviews are glowing, but what do experts have to say about the viral toilet stool?
Either way, you've definitely heard of the Squatty Potty (Buy It, $25, amazon.com). The pooping stool is said to give you an extra oomph on the toilet so you can put the days of painful pushing behind you. But does the Squatty Potty really give you "the best poop of your life," as the unicorn in the commercial promised? Here's everything you need to know about the Squatty Potty.
What is the Squatty Potty?
Similar to the products kids use during potty training, the Squatty Potty is a stool you can place in front of your toilet that elevates your feet (options include 7-inch or 9-inch height), putting you in a squatting position that's said to "open the colon for better elimination," according to the product's description. Translation: It helps you pop the type of squat that'll help you poop more efficiently—but more on how that efficiency works in a bit.
Funny as it sounds, don't knock it 'til you squat it. The stool has an impressive cult following, with tens of thousands of rave Squatty Potty reviews on Amazon claiming "it works like charm."
"You will wonder how you got along without it all these years," wrote one reviewer. "After finishing, my lower abdomen is SO much more relaxed than a bowel movement without the Squatty. There is NONE of the strain/tightness/cramping I usually feel in my lower abdomen," wrote another.
What are the benefits of using a Squatty Potty?
Rumored to be the number-one tool to go number two, the Squatty Potty is meant to fix your posture when sitting on the toilet. If you're wondering, "Wait, what's wrong with my toilet posture?!" here's the down-low: Many people contract and strain their abdominal muscles to make themselves go to the bathroom, says Robert Glatter, M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health. And, for most people, there's not necessarily anything wrong with this. But for those who struggle more than the average person to have a bowel movement—i.e. people with hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic constipation, etc.—that strain can actually have an adverse effect by weakening the pelvic floor, potentially leading to an inability to control urination and bowel movements in the long-term, he explains.
So, the idea with the Squatty Potty is that by raising your feet, you can change the angle of the pelvic floor, notes Dr. Glatter. "[This] in turn relaxes the [abdominal] muscles, making it easier to go to the bathroom," he explains. (Related: How to Poop the Right Way—And Yes, There's a Right Way)
To be clear, though, you don't necessarily need the Squatty Potty (or any other type of stool) to improve your toilet posture, experts say. You can change your posture—and, in turn, help angle the pelvic floor downward to promote a better bowel movement—on your own by straightening your spine (instead of hunching over), relaxing and bulging out your stomach, and leaning forward with your elbows on your knees (again, though, with a straight, not rounded, spine), according to the Continence Foundation of Australia.
Is the Squatty Potty expert-approved?
Yes, but there's a catch.
Experts acknowledge that the Squatty Potty serves a purpose and, judging by its commercial success, serves it well; however, for someone with IBS, Crohn's disease (a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that causes the intestines to become swollen), and/or other bowel movement issues, constipation is a symptom that comes from digestive, and sometimes even mental health conditions, explains Niket Sonpal, M.D., an internist, gastroenterologist, and adjunct professor at Touro College. While the Squatty Potty might help alleviate pressure if you're bloated and relax the proper muscles to promote easier bowel movements, it can't make you regular if you're chronically constipated, especially if the constipation is related to a separate health issue, says Dr. Sonpal. (Related: The Connection Between PCOS and IBS)
"The Squatty Potty can make bowel movements more comfortable in some patients," explains Dr. Sonpal. "[However,] if you're constipated—meaning, going to the bathroom noticeably less than usual and especially if you're going having less than three bowel movements a week—it's productive for you to visit your doctor for a consultation to rule out bigger causes."
Bottom line: The Squatty Potty is a potentially useful tool, and there's no harm in adding it to your routine, experts note. But in order to have consistently healthy bowel movements, experts say regularity starts outside the bathroom. Drinking plenty of water and including aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, and cycling—really any physical activities that get you breathing and your blood pumping—in your fitness routine can go a long way for promoting healthy bowel movements, says Dr. Glatter. "A diet rich in fiber is also recommended," he adds. (Here are some fresh ways to sneak more fiber into your diet.)
But beyond adding beans, legumes, and bran cereal to your grocery list, it's also important to identify foods that don't work for your body, notes Dr. Sonpal. (See: What It's Really Like to Be On an Elimination Diet)
"Maintaining a healthy digestive system has much to do with how we take care of our bodies and how we nourish ourselves," he explains. "For those who are living with a condition [that affects bowel movements], learning to manage it and navigating your body's reactions to certain foods can be an important first step."