Should You Use a Squatty Potty When You Pee?

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Using a squatty potty while peeing can help you fully empty your bladder.
Image Credit: Mintra Kwthijak/iStock/GettyImages

A squatty potty or toilet stool can make it easier to have a bowel movement, particularly if you're dealing with constipation. But is it worth sitting on one just for peeing too?

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The answer is yes.

"A deep squat position or feet on a toilet stool is preferred for both urinating and bowel movements," says Heather Jeffcoat, DPT, owner of Femina Physical Therapy in Los Angeles and President of the Academy of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy.

Here's why it helps, and how to know if you need one.

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How Toilet Stools Help You Pee

A toilet stool or squatty potty can help you empty your bladder more completely, experts say. To understand why, it helps to know a little bit about how the whole urination process works.

Urine is held in by your bladder, a muscle supported by your pelvic floor, until you're ready to release it. "When you decide you're ready to pee, you relax your pelvic floor muscles and the bladder muscle contracts to help the urine move from the bladder through the urethra and out of your body," explains Amanda Shipley, PT, DPT, owner of Renew Pelvic Health in Atlanta.

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Urination should feel totally passive — in other words, the urine should flow right out without any pushing or straining on your part, whether you're sitting on a toilet or standing up. But sitting in a full squat or using a toilet stool (which brings you closer to a squat-like position) can encourage the bladder to be emptied more fully.

"The full squat position is associated with a higher flow rate and lower post-void residual, meaning less is leftover in your bladder, compared to a seated position on a Western toilet," Jeffcoat says.

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Full and complete voiding can help reduce the chance that a little bit of urine gets left behind in your bladder, which can up the risk for urinary tract infections, Jeffcoat explains. So if you're prone to UTIs, using a toilet stool or squatty potty to pee might be especially beneficial.

Does It Matter if You Have a Vagina or Penis?

You might be wondering if all of this only applies to people with vaginas. But in fact, sitting to urinate with a toilet stool or squatty potty can be good for anyone.

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People with penises can use a squatty potty for bowel movements and for peeing sitting down, Shipley says. "I often recommend some people with penises sit to pee if they have a lot of pelvic floor muscle tightness, in order to allow their muscles to relax more fully," she explains.

The One Peeing Position to Avoid

Squatting or sitting with a toilet stool can help you fully empty your bladder. But squatting partially to hover over the toilet isn't beneficial — and it can actually be harmful.

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"The 'hover and pee' keeps your pelvic muscles more contracted, thereby making them unable to fully relax when you void," Jeffcoat says. That can increase the likelihood for urinary retention and up the odds for UTIs.

So if you're tempted to hover on a public toilet for the sake of avoiding germs, don't do it. Instead, use a disposable toilet seat cover or cover the seat with toilet paper and sit down fully. (It might also help to know that public toilet seats might be less germy than you think. The average computer desktop is teeming with ‌400 times‌ more microbes than the average toilet seat, according to an August 2009 study in the ‌American Journal of Infection Control‌.)

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Do You Need a Toilet Stool?

If you don't already have a toilet stool and are happy with your urination situation as it is, ‌thank-you-very-much‌, there's no need to rush out and buy one. "Sitting and being present mentally is all you need to relax and let your body do what it needs to do," Shipley says.

But it may be worth considering using one if you deal with frequent UTIs, because emptying your bladder more fully can help keep extra lingering urine and bacteria out of your bladder.

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A toilet stool can be beneficial, too, if you have very tight pelvic floor muscles, because it can encourage the muscles to relax and reduce urinary retention.

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Expert-Approved Squatty Potty Pick

Shipley is a big fan of the 7-inch or 9-inch Squatty Potty Original Toilet Stool ($39.99 at Amazon), either in plastic or bamboo.

"The 9-inch is great for taller people or if you have a higher toilet," she says, noting that if you don't want to buy a new product, simply leaning forward and going up on your toes to bring your knees higher than your hips can also encourage a squat-like position.

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Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.

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