Why sitting on the toilet can make IBS-C worse

Did you know that a “defecation postural modification device” (DPMD) could ease constipation?

A study that appeared in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology reported that DPMDs can help can reduce straining, increase the sensation of bowel emptying, and decrease the amount of time spent on the toilet. DPMDs, according to researchers from the Ohio State University, encourages proper posture for doing the number 2.

It appears there’s a “right way” and a “wrong way” to go to the bathroom. Squatting places the body in the right position, straightening the angle of the anorectal canal and improving the muscle’s ability to push and relax.

While squatting is commonly practiced in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, it’s virtually nonexistent in western countries. We transitioned to sitting when flushable toilets moved mainstream and into homes during the 19th century.

For those who suffer from IBS-C, sitting can actually make constipation worse. We know that constipation could be linked to multiple factors, medication, diabetes, or stress. But in general, people with chronic constipation may have abnormal recto-anal coordination. This basically means that certain nerves and rectal muscles tend to contract instead of relax. They call this “dyssynergic defecation” and it affects between 37-40% of people in the US.

For the DPMD study, researchers recruited a total of 52 volunteers. Many of those who participated indicated that common symptoms they experience from constipation include:

· Blood on toilet paper

· Increased straining

· Incomplete emptying

They tracked each participant’s bowel movements a total of 4 weeks — two weeks without DPMDs and two weeks with to produce the positive results. The researchers who did the study used the device known as the “Squatty Potty,” a product manufactured by the Edwards family from St. George, Utah.

A member of the Edwards family was suffering from constipation, took her physician’s advice and began squatting. The result was so transformative that the family began working on the stool, which has been featured on “Shark Tank” and also on the “Dr. Oz” show. In 2015, they launched their first commercial, bringing the Squatty Potty into US homes.

Not everyone can get the transformative experience that a DPMD offers. Some people with severe constipation may need to see a specialist for more comprehensive testing and assessment. For those who can find relief from a DPMD notes the OSU researchers, these devices offer a cost-effective, nonpharmacologic option to constipation.