"The issue with squatting to pee is that there is no real way to truly relax the pelvic floor," says Mahino A. Talib, MD, a board-certified OB-GYN in New York City. "This then causes an instability in the urethral sphincter as surrounding muscles contract dysfunctional." Additionally, the folds of the labia minora can also contribute to this issue as "urine hits the curves and bounces off in a different angle."
The best way to correct the instability? Just sit on the toilet. If you're horrified, I get it. But as long as the seat is free of any visible grossness and you don't have a cut or open wound on your butt cheeks, you're fine to sit.
"When you flush a toilet, all that waste that's in that toilet bowl is going down the tube, and it's aerosolized, so you can find a lot of bacteria and viruses in the environment around the toilet," says Michael Pentella, PhD, clinical professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa. However, "sitting on the toilet [doesn't put you at] a great risk because the pathogens in waste are gastrointestinal pathogens. The real risk is touching surfaces that might be infected with bacteria and viruses and then ingesting them because they're on your hands."
And according to Dr. Talib, it's much healthier for your pelvic floor. The pelvic floor functions less effectively when you squat because "you are contracting certain muscles voluntarily to help stabilize yourself," she says. "What's more is that most women will do what we call a 'Valsalva maneuver' to make the urine expel faster—this is like when you strain to defecate. When this maneuver is done repetitively, it results in bladder and pelvic floor dysfunction as the muscles begin to expect voluntary contraction to empty the bladder."
If you're in a really scary bathroom and sitting is truly not an option (or you'd simply rather squat), one thing that can help streamline pee is to wipe before you go. This can be hard to commit to, especially when you're about to burst. But trust me, it can help realign your labia minora, so your urethral opening is unencumbered and better able to shoot a straight shot. I'd say this helps me out about 90 percent of the time, and for those other 10 percent, I just have to wipe again until things are straightened out.
Now, vulva owner, you may go back into the world knowing why it sometimes seems like you have many urethras (urethrea?) and two options for getting your pee in the pot.
While we're on the bathroom beat, here are some foods that can help you poop:
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