If you aren’t already using a toilet stool, I highly recommend you get yourself one. Allow me to explain why.
Bowel movement issues were never a concern of mine. Sure, I’ve dealt with some constipation after long travel days or when my consumption of fiber and water was way off. And sure, I’ve had my fair share of diarrhea after eating some questionable leftovers or drinking tap water in areas of the world where I was explicitly told not to. But bowel movements have never been a stressor for me. In the slightly modified words of Jay-Z, I’ve always had ninety-nine problems but taking a poop wasn’t one… or so I thought.
A BETTER WAY TO EMPTY YOUR BOWELS
When I began pelvic floor physical therapy to work on my chronic dyspareunia (pain during sex), my therapist performed weekly or bi-weekly ultrasounds — to help me visualize the otherwise hard to see pelvic floor, and learn how to improve its function — and she often asked me if I felt the need for a bowel movement. “No, why?” I asked. She showed me on the screen a blob that was apparently poop. She encouraged me to start using a toilet stool for going to the bathroom. This apparently would encourage better bowel emptying.
When I got home, I quickly googled this mysterious bathroom accessory (in incognito mode of course). I was amazed by all the options and the modern and sleek designs. That said, I wasn’t about to spend money on a toilet stool. I asked a close friend working as a carpenter to build me a toilet stool. A few days later, a custom made stool appeared at my house.
In the last few months, my bowel movements happen with less resistance and strain.
I’ve been using the toilet stool for three months now and have quickly become a loyal user. In the last few months, my bowel movements happen with less resistance and strain, have become more predictable, and are satisfying in a way I had never previously known bowel movements could be. All this might be a bit TMI, but to sum it all up, I never knew pooping could feel this good until now!
Bathroom BENEFITS, BACKED BY RESEARCH
If I haven’t sold you on the toilet stool just yet, I’m happy to elaborate on why this stool is so stinkin’ genius. Poop is stored in your rectum until your body tells you it is full and time to poop. I won’t get too deep into the science of it, but the lower digestive tract changes shape as we move our bodies. Historically (and in many other countries still today), humans squat when pooping. With the invention of the modern day western toilet, humans began pooping in a sitting position rather than squatting.
X-ray imaging shows that with that in the squatting position, where our knees are raised above our hips, the "anorectal angle" — the angle of the path our stool travels along as it moves from our rectum (where it’s stored), to the anus (where it’s expelled) — straightens, allowing poop to leave the body with less resistance or strain. Most of us don’t live in a place where we can squat outside when nature calls nor do we want to install a new squat toilet in our home bathrooms. This is where the simple but equally genius toilet stool comes in.
A toilet stool raises your knees above your hips while still allowing you the convenience of using a toilet.
A toilet stool raises your knees above your hips while still allowing you the convenience of using a toilet, and research confirms that this minor addition to your bathroom does indeed lead to easier pooping. Of course, you don't have to buy a stool or have one custom made. You can use a pile of books, a small kiddie stool, or anything else that's sturdy and brings your knees above your hips.
NORMALIZing PELVIC HEALTH dysfunction
It is curious to me how we normalize things that just shouldn’t be normal like glass ceilings in the workforce, painful sex in the bedroom, and unenjoyable poops in the bathroom. Some of these issues have more complicated solutions, but personally the pooping one was as simple as raising my knees above my hips with a stool.
I had never realized the ways in which my bowel movements were hindering me. Improving this part of my pelvic floor health permitted me to focus on other underlying issues like my possible endometriosis. More than anything, improving the way I poop has made me more aware of my body and the root of my discomforts. Through this self awareness I can accurately, and descriptively report my symptoms to my physical therapist and in turn she is better able to understand and provide solutions.
Improving the way I poop has made me more aware of my body and the root of my discomforts.
I am grateful to my physical therapist for her holistic approach to my pelvic floor healing. I have observed that medical professionals sometimes fall into a sort of tunnel vision when it comes to the treatments for our reported symptoms. I appreciate that my pelvic floor physical therapist takes into account many factors such as current lifestyle, trauma history, cultural background, personal diet, anatomy and physiology and even how we poop when it comes to our pelvic floor and overall health.