The Sunday Leader

Squatting Toilets May Be Best

By Indi Samarajiva

Three positions on defecation and video imaging. A typical recording of a subject (case 1) is shown. This shows body positions (a, sitting; b, sitting with the hip flexed; c, squatting with the hip most flexed).

Recent studies have shown that the traditional squat toilet may be healthier than the Western seated toilet. While this idea has had currency for years, recent studies have precisely measured the anatomical differences between sitting and squatting and found that squatting may be both easier and faster.
Squatting has been found to have health benefits, including preventing painful haemorrhoids. It has also been found to be a faster method of relieving oneself. A 2003 study by Israeli doctor Dov Sikirov found that it took squatters an average of 51 seconds to move their bowels while it took those seated an average of 130 seconds. This year, Japanese scientists filled subjects’ bowels with a contrast solution and filmed them with X-ray video to find out the precise anatomical differences. They found that squatting straightens the rectoanal canal and thus requires less strain for defecation.

Toilet History

Squatting is the natural pose for relieving oneself and until the mid 19th century was the only way to go. Since then, flushing seated toilets have become standard in western and middle class Sri Lankan homes though the majority of the world still uses the squatting variety. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.2 billion people still practice open defecation.
Sanitary toilets, however, were present in many ancient civilizations including Anuradhapura. The Harrapan civilization in Pakistan and Northern India had water flushing toilets in the 26th century BC. The main posture, however, was squatting for the millions of years of human existence until inventors like Thomas Crapper popularized the modern seated, flushing toilet in the late 1800s.

Modern Squatting

The modern squat toilet, while still efficacious, has acquired a stigma associated with the poor sanitation of many parts of the third world. Open defecation is the most unsanitary practice as it doesn’t separate waste from the environment. Modern squat toilets, however, do separate the waste through conventional sewage systems.

Toilet Health

According to the Mayo Clinic in America, half of all Americans have to deal with painful hemorrhoids (or piles) by age 50. In the Japanese study by Sakakibara, Tsunoyama et al they say, “In contrast to Western countries, in Asian and African countries, their dietary habits and use of a squatting posture might contribute to the very low incidence of haemorrhoids, constipation and diverticulosis… In addition, lower abdominal pressure on squatting defecation might reduce the risk of defecation syncope, deep vein thrombosis, and stroke. Therefore, a new toiletry commode incorporating both Western and Eastern approaches is anticipated.”

30 Comments for “Squatting Toilets May Be Best”

  1. Lion

    I think what the artcle says is correct.

    • GonThakkadiya

      Article may be correct but the study is questionable. The WHO studies conducted in the third world indicated many years ago that the squatting toilets were much more hygienic and ergonomically more appropriate but not friendly for our national attire and any toilet will not be suitable for our poor levels of maintenance or lack of standards.

  2. Pot Stirrer

    I fully agree with the writer. It’s about time that they bring back the old system! It’s a good exercise too!! You can get up half way and take a break and then continue the job again. Don’t let the Government Doctor remind of this, he might order all homes in Gampaha District to have one.

  3. Rambuttan

    True but squatting is a problem for men and trouser wearing ladies in this busy world where it required to remove the trouser completely before defecation. Squatting is also difficult after 40.

  4. sanjeev

    Most importantly squatting posture helps preventing inguinal hernia by giving support at external inguinal canal orifice which is the exit point for inguinal hernia. ( exit point is covered and pressed against by thigh pressing against the groin at this squatting posture)

    • was

      but it is difficult and also not a good idea to squat if you have osteoarthritis(knee joints)..
      if this article based on a research, must give the reference..

  5. What about those who go to the bush?

  6. Rambutan, women should not wear trousers – only skirts and saree

  7. Ruwan Ferdinandez

    What a sh*tty article!! Anywhere where did you get the information from? Why don’t you refer to the original articles? It is bad practice to reproduce scientific articles in a crappy way without giving due credits, did you know that? Indi Samarajiva, you are getting on my berves now.

  8. First toilet..

    Is Sunday Leader so bankrupt as to find good intelligent articles and good writers that they have now resorted to publishing rubbish like this ?

    • Ruwan Ferdinandez

      It’s a sad story. since the death of Lasantha, the article quality of the paper has been deteriorating gradually. The new people like Indi Samarajiva have nobody to look upto. On top is Fredrica flashing knickers and she sets the standard by lowering the bar. So you can’t expect more than this from that standard. The deterioration is so much that quite soon, it will die its natural death.

  9. anbu

    I was born in Sri Lanka but brought up in the UK. But I have always squtted in toilets. I always make sure I wipe the seat after I sit. I also speant time in a European style Missionary boarding school in Sri Lnaka who made me sit in the toilet. But Sorry… I prefer to squal. My parents say it is gode( sinhala)/thottakaatan(tamil) habit. But personnaly I have never had any time for such aflictions
    But then again I prefer to sit on the floor to much to my parents annoyance.
    Great to see this article.
    I do worry if i am sleepy and squat in a Euro toilet I might fall over and break my bones though…

    • suresh

      Please hold on to your thottakaatan values.

    • gamarala

      Dear anbu, I heard the story of a sri lankan who in UK, SQUATTED ON TOP OF THE COMMODE, not knowing that one had to sit on it!
      One day a friend enlightened him !!!!

  10. anbu

    It is a shame that in places like Sri Lanka India wether you squat or sit has become a unspoken class issue. Ihave been to many Sri Lnakn homes in Sri Lnaka where they have sitting style toilets as show pieces( to show thier class) and then squatting toilets in the back yard

    • suresh

      The squatting toilets in the back yard must have been for the servants (thottakaatan.

  11. The sri lankan readership do not want to know toilet habits of others..People are more interested in future of our country politically, economically and socially. Can we do a decent job, educate our children, can they find gainful employment and live free ? Where are we heading ? Not how you use your toilet facilty. Some need to grow up fast.

  12. PAM

    oh please!!!!! let the ones who want to sit, sit and the ones who want to squat squat. What a topic!!!!

  13. Achiles

    One of the biggest benefits of squatting toilets is that one stretches the Achilles tendon every day unknowingly while squatting. This will prevent tight Achilles tendon problems like ruptures and tendinitis later in life.

  14. Deshapriya

    No matter what kind of toilet you have if they are not clean. Our main problem is that.
    cleanliness..cleanliness is the issue.

  15. Mohamed

    This is exactly what Islam is teaching 1400 years ago. Amazing!

  16. gamarala

    We had bidets in our home in the sixties and sitting on them was as comfortable as on the commode.
    Now in some countries, a commode cum bidet is available, to perform both functions.
    Squatting is difficult for the elderly.

    • gamarala

      Sorry, forgot. Haemorrhoids are varicose veins of the rectum and anal region and posture is not a cause. These varicosities are caused by sluggish venous drainage, mostly due to constipation and postponment of emptying of the bowel. Bran and bran products increase roughage (fibre) in the large intestine which retains water which would otherwise be absorbed causing hardening of stools leading to constipation. Hard stools cause trauma to internal haemorrhoids leading to red blood in stools.
      A comfortable posture is necessary to defaecate without strain, and to completely empty the bowel. Posture varies with the person and the type of bathroom facilities available.

  17. ukasha

    Shit article as usual Indi

  18. I once heard that a herbal thea made of hamamelis is a treatment for hemmorhoids. Is this true? Or is there a better alternative? thnx Lisa

  19. [...] who do need some reading material, check out some of the literature on the argument for squatting: My current Tajik squat toilet is out behind the courtyard and little field, and is permanently [...]

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