Have you ever wondered which among the two types of toilets – the sitting toilet (western style toilet) or the squat toilet (Indian style toilet) — provides the healthiest or best pooping position or allows for effective bowel clearance?
Both styles of toilets are meant for the same act, answering nature’s call. But there is a significant difference between the two in terms of comfort, hygiene and how they facilitate bowel clearance. While it is understood that individual preferences determine the choice of the style of toilet, and thereby pooping position, ideally an informed choice should be made, weighing in their pros and cons.
Pooping position pros and cons: Western toilet
Using the western toilet is convenient for the elderly, and those with weak and brittle bones. A seated pooping position will avoid stress on the knee and the back. It provides more comfort compared to the squat-style toilet and is convenient to use for people with mobility challenges.
“On a western toilet, the hips and the back are relaxed, and the body weight will not fall on the knees,” says Dr G Mohan, orthopedics, trauma and joint replacement surgeon, Fortis Hospital, Chennai. “It also helps prevent falls and fractures. It is beneficial for the middle-aged and the elderly.”
However, unlike in the squat-style toilet, the pooping position in western-style toilets comes with its own set of problems. The torso remains relaxed and the thighs are not flexed over the abdomen. So, the colon is not compressed or the puborectal muscle is not stretched enough to allow complete bowel clearance. It could lead to indigestion, constipation, and piles, among others, say experts.
However, an individual’s diet also has a big say in ensuring smooth bowel movement. So, ensuring an adequate amount of fibre and laxatives in food keeps issues such as constipation away, regardless of the type of toilet you are using.
Pooping position: Squat/Indian toilet
The pooping position in the Indian squat toilet is more suitable for younger people as it requires flexibility and strength in the limbs. However, it has quite a bit of advantages, and cons as well.
When a person squats, the torso presses the thighs, making them flex the abdomen, resulting in compression of the colon and relaxation of the puborectalis muscle which allows for complete emptying of the bowel. This aids in better digestion and prevents constipation. Squatting over the toilet ensures better hygiene as there is no direct contact with the toilet seat. The action of squatting also serves as a physical exercise, improving blood circulation and strengthening the leg muscles.
It has its limitations though. The Indian toilet or squat toilet is not suitable for the elderly, people with compromised mobility due to osteoarthritis, or people recovering from recent surgeries or other medical reasons. Using Indian toilets might strain the hips, back and knees.
“It is recommended not to use the Indian commode for more than 20 minutes to avoid knee stress,” adds Dr Mohan.
Making a change in the pooping position
For a person who is trying to shift from Indian style to western toilet, possibly due to old age and other factors, the transition can be tough. “Shifting from one toilet to another may take time due to the habit. People prefer pooping positions based on the habits that they have developed,” says Dr Mohan.
Make the change in steps, says Dr Govind Nandakumar, a surgical gastroenterologist at Manipal Hospital, Bengaluru. “Those with difficulties in using western toilets can use a short stool approximately six inches or so to rest the feet on it,” he adds. “By doing this you would be able to generate the benefits of using an Indian restroom while using a western one.”
- Pooping position in Indian (squat) style toilets provides a better angle that aids bowel movement without generating excess pressure.
- Indian toilets can be difficult for the elderly and those with limited mobility and fragile knees or hips.
- Western toilets allow you to sit, making it easy for people with infirmity. There is a significant amount of contact with the toilet seat which may increase the risk of skin infections.