When it comes to poops, nobody does them better than me. Or at least, that’s what I thought before discovering the Squatty Potty on Reddit (while I was on the toilet, no less). Before I knew it, the Squatty Potty—a $25 stool that helps you squat, instead of sit, while you poo—was in my shopping cart.
The Squatty Potty first rose to fame on Shark Tank, where its founders claimed that proper pooping posture makes all the difference. Since then, it’s become the hottest piece of bathroom paraphernalia on the market.
The concept of the Squatty Potty is pretty simple: It’s a step stool that sits on the floor in front of the toilet. It has a stable seven- or nine-inch adjustable platform that elevates the legs and feet to put you in that natural squatting position even when you’re sitting on your keister.
But does it really make it easier to poop? I would be the judge of that with my own Squatty Potty review.
While I waited for my Squatty Potty to show up on my doorstep, I reached out to the experts to find out if it could really make a difference in my bathroom visits.
The Science of The Sit vs. The Squat
It turns out that pooping is a little more, well, technical, than sitting on the seat and straining. The rectum and the anal canal are poop’s last stop before going plop, and there are a few muscles that make sure that we don’t automatically poop our pants every time we sit. One muscle (called the puborectalis) pulls the rectum forward, which creates a 90-degree angle that kinks your colon (like a garden hose) when you’re sitting or standing, thereby helping to keep the poop in place, explains women’s health certified specialist, Lori Mize, P.T., D.P.T.
But it also means that when we want to poop, there’s a kink in the way, she says.
Enter: the deep squat. Not only does a little ass-to-grass action help build a juicy peach, it’s also the only position where that magical muscle fully relaxes, straightening the kink in your bowels and letting things flow as nature intended, explains Mize. According to one small study published in Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms, squatting helps relax the puborectalis muscles, opening the rectum and straightening the colon, which, for us, means bombs away.
“For women in particular, straining is a problem because repeated straining over many, many years may weaken the pelvic floor, which can lead to bowel control problems and even the pelvic floor dropping,” says Mize. In fact, almost a quarter of women deal with pelvic floor disorders, according to the National Institutes of Health. Here’s the good news: A second study published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences found that pooping while in the squatting position results in less effort, less strain, and more satisfactory bowel emptying, which suggests that it could be used to help prevent pelvic floor weakening.
The Squatty Potty may also be helpful if you’re prone to hemorrhoids, suggests research published in Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients. After all, the less you’re straining, the lower your changes of developing a varicose vein in your rear, says Mize.
According to Peter Stanich, M.D. a gastroenterologist with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, the constipated crowd is really the Squatty Potty’s intended market: “The purpose of the Squatty Potty is to make pooping easier and faster for people who are constipated or who have incomplete evacuation,” he says. “Using it when you’re not constipated and don’t have to strain won’t cause any harm, but you don’t necessarily need your pooping to be faster,” he added.
If you’re dealing with constipation, try these remedies:
While he predicted that the Squatty Potty would have a zero-sum effect on me (I’m not a strainer), I was curious if I would feel emptier after a week using the tool. After all, sometimes, frequent pooping can be a sign that, each time you go, you aren’t actually getting everything out, says Rudolph Bedford, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
All in all, squatting was starting to sound pretty good.
Here’s How My Week Went Down
When my Squatty Potty was delivered, I took it out of its box, and set up shop in the bathroom. (What’s different about the Squatty Potty compared to any ‘ole stool is that it fits around the toilet, so it’s less of an eyesore than most plastic stools.) Then, I group-messaged my two roomies (another girl and her boyfriend) and let them know that we’d all be embarking on a little Squatty Potty experiment for one week.
He was amped. She, not so much. So we made a little deal. If at the end of the week, two of us felt like our defecation benefitted, we’d keep the accessory. And if not, well, we’d stash it away in the closet along with the Poo-Pourri and plunger. No harm, no foul.
The first time I used my Squatty Potty was after yoga. I shimmied my sweat-drenched leggings down mid-calf, tried to step on the stool, and tripped. Turns out that stepping onto a nine-inch stool with compression leggings around your ankles isn’t easy. So, after catching myself on the sink, I took my pants all the way off and lowered my Squatty Potty by two inches.
The whole shebang took about two minutes, but by the time I sat on the toilet, I was sure I was going to poop my pants from the delay. I’d rank my first usage as a solid D. I had to do it half-naked. And the whole thing happened so fast I didn’t even have time to scroll through Instagram or play a level of Candy Crush while on the pot.
The second time I used it was after my second cup of joe for the day. This time, I was wearing a pair of boyfriend jeans. Much easier. I shimmied them down to my ankles, and squatted way back until my tuchus hit the seat. Then, I lifted my legs to rest them on the stool. Getting into position took approximately 20 seconds. A 1:40 PR from my first use. I was getting the hang of it. And no, there was no straining.
My third poop of the day also went smoothly.
Because I work from home, most poops happen in my apartment, where I stored and used the Squatty Potty. And while there is a certain shamelessness required to chronicle your week of poop, I was not about to lug my stool with my on the subway and to my gym. Which meant that I’d have to defecate without my accessory at least once per day.
While Mize says that many people have anxiety about pooping in public, which can make going when you’re on the go pretty difficult, especially without the Squatty Potty, I don’t have that problem. So I took my fourth poop of the day happily in the bathroom of my gym and didn’t miss my Squatty Potty at all.
The second day and third day were a total breeze. I used the Squatty Potty three times during the work day and got used to the the fact that it felt like I was using a little kids potty, which both Mize and Stanich warned me might take some getting used to.
During my evening excretion, I sent the poop emoji to the roommates with a bunch of question marks. My roommate said it made her hips hurt and that she didn’t notice a drastic difference, but her boyfriend basically said it was the greatest invention since high-definition TV (to which I say, okay but what about the Swiffer?!). At least one of us was digging the doody-helper.
The fourth day, I had two meetings in the city, which means I only got my a.m. doo done with the help of Squatty Potty. Because it was a meeting at a local fitness studio, I was all dolled up in sports gear and again had to strip my leggings off to make use of the stool. But the poop itself was pretty anti-climactic.
I wish I could say that on the fifth, sixth, and seventh day, things got really exciting… but alas, the end of the experiment was as plain as the beginning, and my overall Squatty Potty review was pretty “meh.” Did I have the promised best poops of my life? No. Did I feel emptier? Eh, not really. But to be fair, when you’re already pooping four times a day, it’s hard to feel emptier. However, over dinner when I asked my roommate’s boyfriend if he felt emptier after using the tool he said, “sorta” which isn’t not promising.
At the end of the week, my apartment decided to keep the device in the closet by the plunger. The stool definitely made our Brooklyn-sized bathroom feel smaller, and because none of us were in a bout of constipation, we didn’t really need it.
However, if any of us do wind up constipated, your can bet your sweet patootie that it’s coming back out.