Hemorrhoids in the Spotlight in Sit vs. Squat Debate

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD

Hemorrhoids Center Stage in Sit vs. Squat Debate

How do you go to the bathroom?

Despite the graphic detail the answer to this question contains, this has been the topic of widespread conversation lately, and for good reason. While most of us don’t think twice about using the toilet in the way we’ve been trained since our diaper days, most species on this planet evacuate their bowels in a very different fashion—by squatting.

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This question has been front and center lately due to a series of research studies that found the way that we are using the toilet may be impacting our gastrointestinal health. Specifically, sitting on the toilet could be increasing your risk of developing hemorrhoids in Los Angeles.

While it might seem that sitting on the toilet is a much less stressful way of relieving yourself, the sitting position is actually more physiologically demanding than is the uncomfortable squatting position. When you sit plainly on a toilet you are forced to apply extra force to pass a bowel movement. This is known as straining during bowel movements and is among the leading causes of hemorrhoids.

The squatting position is actually a more natural position to pass a bowel movement, though it has essentially been abandoned by the western world for hundreds of years. A recent report published in the Israel Journal of Medical Science found that rates of gastrointestinal diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, appendicitis, colon cancer and polyps and hemorrhoids have grown exponentially with the introduction of western style toilets. In rural areas of developing countries where toilets are not available the rates of these diseases are much lower.

Due to the way the rectum is positioned in our bodies, squatting down on the ground with your knees to your chest actually straightens your rectum, permitting stool to pass freely and putting less stress on the rectum during your bowel movement.

Treatment for hemorrhoids is uncomfortable. While minimally invasive surgical methods like THD and PPH in Los Angeles make treatment easier now than in previous years, it is still considered ideal to take the steps now to prevent hemorrhoids from developing. That doesn’t mean that it is time to rip your toilet out from your wall. Following a healthier diet that is high in fiber can make passing bowel movements an easier task and reduce the amount of straining you do, thus reducing your risk of developing hemorrhoids and other uncomfortable GI conditions.

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