Product Review: The Squatty Potty (yes, that is what it sounds like)

February 23, 2013 in Categories: , , by

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homepage-stools-eccoOne of the amazing things about my blog growing so quickly is that I now get asked quite frequently to review products.  I’ve learned the art of saying no and now only review products that I’m truly interested in.  Yes, I was truly interested in trying out a squatty potty.

When the squatty potty PR department asked me if I was “pooping wrong” (literally, that was the subject of the e-mail), I was initially perplexed (isn’t that a bit of a personal question, and why the heck are you asking a mom paleo blogger to review a poop stool?) and then intrigued.  I watched the video on their website (which had me smirking).  I thought about it overnight, but by morning, my curiosity had the better of me.  I responded with a “Yes, please”.

I’ve mentioned this before in other posts (like this one on constipation, which I recently updated) that prior to paleo, I had suffered Irritable Bowel Syndrome with chronic constipation for 12 years.  For 12 years prior to paleo, I was on a rotating mixture of laxatives and stool softeners.  Once, when I was in grad school, I spent an entire night in the emergency room where the very helpful resident diagnosed me as “full of sh*t” (yes, he literally said that like it was the funniest joke ever) and prescribed a very powerful enema (I was having severe abdominal pain because it had been 2 weeks since my last BM).  I am fairly certain that I have permanent nerve damage as a result of more than a decade of chronic constipation.  And I still battle the Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth that likely caused it in the first place.  Even now, when I give into cravings and eat starchy vegetables, coconut or too much fruit, my symptoms are bloating and constipation.  So, yes, the issue of pooping is near and dear to my heart.

So, what’s the deal with the squatty potty?  Well, basically the squatty potty is a very cleverly designed stool.  It allows you to raise your knees high enough that your body is in a squatting position even though you’re still sitting on the toilet (you can actually properly squat and hover if you prefer).  I borrowed the graphic below from the squatty potty website to show how this change in position changes the internal alignment.  It means that a) gravity is working for you, and b) everything is lined up so you aren’t trying to push around a corner.

anorectalangle-645

Squatting is a natural position for, well, many things.  It’s actually one of the things that Mark Sisson talks about in his (completely awesome) new book:  The Primal Connection.  Before chairs, people would squat to relax, to eat, to chat.  Squatting is a natural position for giving birth.  And of course, before the invention of the toilet, squatting was the only position available.  After all the natural childbirth education I went through before having my daughters, you’d think I would have drawn the connection between squatting as a birth position to help push out a baby and squatting as a poop position.  Well, better late than never.  Suffice it to say, squatting is a natural position for pooping.

There’s also some really convincing scientific studies supporting squatting as a healthier way to poop (of course, scientific studies use more technical terms than “poop”).  For example, this study compared the Iranian-style toilet (squatting style) to the European-style toilet (what you are probably used to) and concluded:

“Use of the Iranian-style toilet seems to be a more comfortable and efficient method of bowel evacuation than the European style. Further studies are needed to ascertain the optimal approximation of the measurements to standard height of toilets for ordinary use.”

And this study concluded:

“The results of the present study suggest that the greater the hip flexion achieved by squatting, the straighter the rectoanal canal will be, and accordingly, less strain will be required for defecation.”

And this is my favorite study, which concludes:

“The present study confirmed that sensation of satisfactory bowel emptying in sitting defecation posture necessitates excessive expulsive effort compared to the squatting posture.”

The squatty potty fixes your posture while going to the bathroom.  And this simple change can dramatically improve constipation, hemorrhoids, colon disease, urinary difficulty/infections, and pelvic floor issues (just in case you thought this was limited to ease of pooping).  Did I mention that Mark Sisson plugs the squatty potty in his book? (I only read The Primal Connection just over a week ago, so I was feeling all proud of myself that I was already using a squatty potty when I read that chapter.)

In the paleo community, we are passionate about natural movement.  We climb trees and wear vibrams.  So, think of the squatty potty as MoveNat for pooping.  PoopNat, if you will.

So, what is my personal experience with the squatty potty?  I’ve been using it for about 6 weeks (I wanted to give it a thorough trial run before writing this review).  And, as my 6-year old would say, holly smolly guacamole.  This thing is ridiculously awesome.  It is not natural to love a stool as much as I do, but I can’t help it.  It really is more comfortable and easier to go from a squatting position.  It doesn’t feel like work (and, at least for me, it used to feel like work more often than not).  And, I have overdone sugar in the last 6 weeks (wish I could say that was in order to thoroughly test out the squatty potty, but it’s really just giving into sugar cravings due to being overrun with writing the book) and had the usual response by my body.  But, I didn’t have to suffer the severe discomfort of going to the bathroom after my sugar indulgence that I normally do thanks to the squatty potty.  Yes, I am very impressed.  Actually, I am in love.

The only downside?  Less time to read.

Lest you think that any stool can do this job, let me tell you a couple of features of the squatty potty that make it worth the $10-$20 extra bucks over a regular stool.  It’s wide so you can place your feet in a variety of positions depending on your hip width and what’s comfortable for you.  It’s slightly angled so you can have your feet slightly angled up or down depending on the flexibility in your ankles and what’s comfortable for you.  And probably best of all, it tucks right under the toilet bowl due to its shape so it is completely out of your way when you aren’t using it.  I now only go to the bathroom in the one bathroom in the house than has a squatty potty… time to buy another one, I think.  Actually, I think these will make great Christmas presents this year (head’s up family, you’re getting poop stools for Christmas!  And a copy of The Paleo Approach.  Woot!).

So, where can you get a squatty potty?  You can buy them direct from www.squattypotty.com and you can buy them off amazon.  The 9” squatty potty is better if you are tall, are fairly flexible, or have a higher toilet.  The 7” squatty potty is better if you are shorter, less flexible or have a lower toilet.  It even comes in bamboo if you think that utilitarian white won’t match your bathroom.

So, in the words of the squatty potty PR department, are you pooping wrong?

Comments

“Funny” enough, I was just watching my very young son making poos while reading this…. and there he was, squatting just as described. Since he doesn’t know about potty ‘etiquette’ yet (we’re trying, dear lord, we’re trying!!) it seems as he’s “makin’” like nature intended.

What I find interesting is how “unnatural” Americans think squatting is! For years I’ve been including this in my pediatric physical therapy practice as a natural way to play and to begin using one’s pelvic floor muscles to gain strength needed for potty training. When I moved to Japan in 2010, I was introduced to the “Japanese style” toilet… affectionately called the Squatty Potty by us Westerners!! When I went Paleo 1 1/2 years ago, I stumbled across the squatty potty website and watched all the videos… made perfect sense to this PT who even gave birth squatting! (so, why didn’t I figure this out on my own??!!) Though most of my American friends will wait longer to use the one Western toilet in a public restroom, I’ll walk fearlessly past them to one of the 4 squatty potties as, YES, they’re easier to use!! It does have a short learning curve, and I’ve found that when wearing a dress, it’s preferable to use the Western toilet. But, when I move back to the states, I’m gonna have to buy a squatty potty!!!

Great review! I first learned about this product from Oh Crap Potty Training: http://www.jamieglowacki.com/ (In our house we affectionately refer to Jamie as “The Potty Lady.” She is an awesome resource for toilet training (or thinking about it) parents. Really important to help new poopers by teaching them to use the right position and getting those little feet firmly planted instead of dangling in the air.

I’ve read about this thing a few times recently. I think, w/ your review, I’m sold. Squatting as a sitting position is really common in Africa. When we lived there it was the way I most often saw women cooking & it is surprisingly comfortable.

PoopNat!? Bwahahaha!
I have a stool stool (which my daughter thinks is hers for handwashing), or I do like they did on the train to Marrakesh and raise the ring seat to hop onto the rim of the bowl. Bit risky if the phone or doorbell rings, due to startle reaction, though.
Side note: check out Alignedandwell.com re proper squatting techniques and how the ties in with pelvic floor strength.

Oddly enough, I was just thinking about this product earlier today. I have to say, I’m also intrigued and excited to try it! My hubby would also benefit from such a device. Thanks for the great post!

I want to try one, if I can convince my husband :) What size would you recommend for someone who is short (I’m 5’4″ and my husband is 5’8″) but very flexible? I also have two little boys who could probably use it to reach the toilet instead of their stool (they are 1 and 3). Thanks!

My 3 year old uses it to get up on the toilet too. :) I have the 7″ for a shorter toilet and am VERY flexible (and am just shy of 5’6″) and wish I had the 9″. But I think Squatty Potty recommends the 7″ as their standard.

Yes, I’m pooping wrong :-D I let see this post to my husband and asked him if he could make a tool for ‘ squatty potty’…and he said yes. So, he is going to make one….and we will see how things going on….

Thanks for the post. As a kid, we used a stool to brush our teeth and reach the sink. I remember bringing over that stool to the toilet to help me poop. I should have invented the squatty potty as a 5 year old. darn! I really want a squatty potty. I think it’ll also help with post-partum BMs, especially after tearing and with stitches. I regularly practice squatting to get ready for the upcoming birth of my son and I did it in front of some friends last week (in their 50s and 60s) who lamented that they could never ever squat like that. We have gone wrong in the US somewhere since squatting is so natural to kids and to entire people groups elsewhere in the world. Why is it weird for a 29 year old pregnant lady to be able to properly assume a squat position?
I love your blog, Sarah!

I was curious if you ever thought of changing the structure of your site?
Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.

But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people
could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having
1 or two pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

Great review! I have a Squatty Potty in each bathroom here! I started out with a classic 7 inch and quickly moved up to the 9 inch bamboo! ( I put the 7 inch classic in the teenagers’ bathroom…they love it!) I cannot say enough good about these stools…and yes, I know exactly how you feel about loving a stool just a little bit too much.

Sarah, I’m glad you’re promoting the idea of squatting. But a footstool like the squatty potty should only be used by those who are not able to squat, due to some infirmity.

We have to get rid of the western toilet altogether! This will only happen if children are allowed to squat properly. Even adults can regain their ability to squat if they practice every day. But if they use footstools they will never accomplish this. Everyone should learn about the difference between using a footstool and really squatting. This link explains it: http://www.naturesplatform.com/faq.html#footstools

I bought one a month ago and it is great! I was always constipated. With hemmys. They are now gone and eliminating is easy. Love it

Hi Sarah, You mentioned that coconut is something you avoid and gives you constipation. I have chronic constipation and I don’t know how much is my gut and how much is nerve damage from my daughter getting stuck during childbirth, resulting in much tearing in the end to get her out. I eat coconut, what is the issue with coconut, besides being careful not to eat too much fibre and not enough water?

As for the potty, my physiotherapist recommended phonebooks to get the squat happening. I like the idea of the squatty potty better. I will have to see how much it is to get it to Australia.
:-)

The fiber is coconut is highly highly fermentable and soluble, which both overfeeds bacteria and slows down gastric motility. I do fine with coconut oil and milk but have to be really careful with coconut butter, flour, and shredded coconut.

I really wish I had known about tis 4 years ago. I have gone through radiation and chemotherapy for anal cancer and going to the bathroom was the most painful thing ever!! I think squating would have relieved some of the pain. I will definitely be trying this !!

I bought one in November 2013. I love it. It is a great product. First heard about it on Howard Stern. Everyone should have one.

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