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  • OK, internet. You asked, so now we're answering.

  • Pooping.

  • It's a thing people do all the time, normally somewhere between three times a day and once every three days.

  • And you may've heard that you've been doing it wrong.

  • You're supposed to squat, not sit! Or so they say.

  • It's probably true that squatting can help make bowel movements slightly easier.

  • But, despite what some people claim, changing your position won't solve all your digestive problems.

  • Humans spent thousands of years squatting to defecate.

  • It's only in the last few hundred years that people in Western countries have adopted the raised toilet, and started sitting instead.

  • So this whole poop-position controversy is based on the idea that squatting must arrange your anatomy in a helpful way, because that's what our bodies evolved to do.

  • On its way out of you, solid waste has to pass through your rectum, and then your anal canal.

  • There's a muscle, called the puborectalis muscle, that loops around your digestive tract between those two sections, and it helps you keep poop inside you when you are trying to eliminate it.

  • Basically, it makes an angle between your rectum and anal canal, which puts upward pressure on your rectum and holds everything in.

  • And when the muscle relaxes, your rectum and anal canal straighten out a bit, which along with other muscles that relax and contract, lets stuff slide out.

  • It's probably not surprising that there hasn't been too much research on the anatomy involved in pooping.

  • But a few small studies say that squatting helps align your rectum and anal canal better than sitting does.

  • A couple others have shown that when people squat instead of sit, they have to strain less and the elimination process takes less time.

  • Again, these studies were small.

  • One used 28 volunteers, and another used only six.

  • So, it's enough to suggest that there might be something to these ideas, but bigger, more carefully controlled studies need to be done before this can be considered scientific fact.

  • But!

  • If squatting does make things easier, it's possible that it also helps with hemorrhoids.

  • Hemorrhoids are swollen veins near the anus and rectum, which can be painful and lead to itching and bleeding.

  • They're often caused by too much straining when you poop.

  • So if squatting does help with straining, it could make hemorrhoids less likely, but that's basically all we know about the potential benefits.

  • There are companies out there that sell stools to help you pass your stool, and sometimes they make really exaggerated claims.

  • For example, squatting might fix irritable bowel syndrome or even prevent colorectal cancer.

  • There's just no evidence to support those claims.

  • Gastrointestinal experts seem to agree that if your bowel movements are normal, there's no real reason to squat when you go.

  • There's probably no harm in it, either, but if you're happy with the way you've been pooping until now, there's no need to change up your method.

  • But, you know, thanks for asking.

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OK, internet. You asked, so now we're answering.

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