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The Experts Discussed Proper Defecation Techniques: Are You Doing It Incorrectly?

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  • Post last modified:September 26, 2023

Pooping. It’s one thing that you’d think you can’t really mess up that badly, right? But it turns out, you’ve likely been doing it incorrectly all along. Here are some of the common errors — plus, the correct way to poop — according to a gastroenterologist.

You’re sitting incorrectly.

To be fair, this isn’t all your fault. “Modern plumbing is designed more for our convenience and appearance rather than how we’re naturally built,” says Robynne Chutkan, M.D., an integrative gastroenterologist and author of The Bloat Cure. Meaning: If bowel health was the top priority, it would be socially acceptable to simply dig a hole in the ground and be done with it. “We were designed to squat to poop. When we squat, the knees press up against the abs, which increases intra-abdominal pressure to help stool evacuate. When we sit on a toilet, our legs are at a right angle and that doesn’t accomplish that,” explains Dr. Chutkan.

Instead, you need to exert effort to have a bowel movement, which can lead to all sorts of problems — such as hemorrhoids and even a stretched-out sphincter, notes Dr. Chutkan. Yikes. To correct your pooping posture, she’s a fan of the Squatty Potty, but if you’re extremely flexible, you could even just pull your feet up onto the toilet seat as you sit on it to achieve the same intra-abdominal pressure, she says. (No judgment if you skip that suggestion.)

You hold it for too long.

Everyone’s been there. You have to go, but you’re already running late to work or don’t have access to a toilet, so you just delay it. That’s not the best idea, though. “Your bowel has its own nervous system that can be trained,” says Dr. Chutkan. “When you’re receiving a signal that you have to go and you don’t, it causes bowel confusion, which can lead to constipation,” she explains.

You take too much time.

Just like when you hold it, when you enter the bathroom armed with reading materials to keep your mind occupied, you’re sending your bowels conflicting signals. “Don’t bring your phone, a book, a newspaper into the bathroom with you, because that’s also a form of bowel training — you’re saying, ‘We have all day,’ when you really want to be efficient, in and out,” points out Dr. Chutkan.

You don’t take a glance.

Yep, the appropriate way to poop involves not being too grossed out to examine the result. “I encourage people to TATAL — turn around and take a look,” says Dr. Chutkan.

You’re examining the hue, texture, and form: The optimal defecation is moderately brownish (or tending towards greenish if you consume a substantial amount of vegetation) and not excessively pale, compact but not overly rigid or excessively loose, and substantial — indicating, not excessively slender or diminutive.

You’re excessively utilizing toilet paper.

You should be achieving a sufficiently tidy result, so you shouldn’t require an excessive amount of toilet paper to complete the task. If you find yourself needing to repeatedly return for more, it is probable that there is still feces in the rectum, and you should prolong your time spent on the toilet, as advised by Dr. Chutkan.

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