I have a GI disease—and the Squatty Potty is a game-changer
As a person with ulcerative colitis and a J-pouch, I love this thing.
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As a person with lifelong gastrointestinal disease (Ulcerative Colitis, for which I had J-pouch surgery in 1995), toilets are of particular interest to me. I know where all the clean, working public toilets are in my town. As I no longer have a large intestine due to the surgery I’ve had, I have to poop more frequently than others—something many people who have IBD and IBS understand.
I’d seen the weird-looking toilet stool at a few people’s homes. Perched in front of the base of the toilet, the plastic Squatty Potty was a mystery. Why do I need a stepstool in front of my toilet? After a friend urged me to try it, I finally got one. It was a revelation!
What is a Squatty Potty?
The original Squatty Potty is a 7-inch high plastic stepstool that nestles around the base of a toilet. The premise is as simple as the device—lift your feet and place them on the top of the step, either side of the toilet, and your body goes into a squat position for eliminating waste. The squat-to-poop position is adopted by much of the rest of the world, but in the United States we have clung to our tall toilets, even though the science indicates squatting is superior.
The feet on the ground/butt higher up in the air Western toilet model may feel more “dignified” than squatting to poop, but it isn’t ideal for passing stool. The simple ergonomics of shifting the body by using the Squatty Potty makes pooping quicker, easier, and less messy than with a conventional Western toilet.
What We Like
While the original purpose is to help bowel movements by preventing/addressing constipation, the Squatty Potty has gained a major fan base among people like me with bowel disease. When you have a J-pouch, basically an internal pouch that tries to mimic what the colon and rectum used to do (draw water out of the stool and hold it until elimination), completely “emptying” the pouch (it’s pooping, just internally) can be a challenge.
The constant movement of the small intestine (ileum) and small size of the J-pouch means that even when you just pooped, you may feel like you have to go again soon. This can result in pushing or straining when emptying, similar to what others do when constipated. Straining is bad for you and can cause problems like hemorrhoids, hernias, and irritation or damage to the J-pouch, so the Squatty Potty is a wonderful tool for “pouchers” and non-pouchers alike.
In short, the minor body position change caused by using the Squatty Potty can benefit anyone who poops. In fact, it’s an FDA-approved medical device.
It comes in many styles
Since the original model became massively popular, with celebrities like Howard Stern and Hugh Jackman singing its praises, the company has come out with quite a few additional models, including prettier bamboo and teak wood styles, foldable models, a travel version, one with a nightlight, styles for kids and a “flippable” model that goes from 7 inches to 9 inches. There’s even a fancy marble version! As it’s something that permanently lives in view at the base of your toilet, it’s nice to be able to select one that matches the decor.
The company’s branding minimizes embarrassment
Advertising a product used for pooping could be a delicate proposition for even the best marketing team, but Squatty Potty nailed it. The brand voice is playful and fun, and it gets the message across with quirky language and cute images like, “The best poop of your life, guaranteed,” and “Happy colon, happy life.” You can review this website with your family without embarrassment.
What we don’t like
There could be more height adjustment
It’s hard to nitpick a simple device that offers so much help. If pressed, I would suggest a new “deluxe” model be developed that comes with a remote to allow for automatic, custom positioning of the foot shelf. The Squatty Potty only comes in two heights (7 and 9 inches), and that might not work for everyone.
For example, my elderly mother is very short. Her toilet is older, smaller, and closer to the ground than modern toilets. The Squatty Potty I bought her (7-inch model) came up way too high for her and wasn’t pleasant. It’s hard for her to lift her legs that high off the ground due to back pain and body weakness. Placing your feet on a pad on the ground and then using a motor to get it to a custom height that works for your body and your toilet would address this.
The advertisements could be more inclusive
Second, as someone with GI disease, it would be helpful also if they didn’t only use the word “colon” to talk about people pooping, as there are a lot of folks without a colon who still eliminate waste into toilets. Not just J-pouchers, but ostomates who eliminate into a bag which then has to be emptied into a toilet. I had a temporary ostomy as part of my surgery journey with colitis, and I think the Squatty Potty might also be good for this community as it could help you get into an ideal position to empty your bag. They could reach even more consumers with broader language.
The price might be too high to outfit all toilets in your home
Third, I think the price is a bit high, which could be a barrier for some folks who could really use one. If you have a big family and one bathroom, hurrying up the pooping process for every family member would definitely be helpful, but putting down $25 plus shipping costs for a plastic stool might not be in the budget when you have a lot of mouths to feed.
It’s tough to clean
Finally, there have been complaints that the plastic model is hard to keep clean. I concur. My plastic model seems to attract more than its share of dust and grime, especially in the ridges where the feet sit and around the rubber feet at the bottom. Bathrooms are hard enough to keep clean without any extra hassle from a stool located in a pretty grimy location.
Should you buy a Squatty Potty?
The Squatty Potty has a lot of positives. I recommend it for almost everyone, but particularly folks with IBD or IBS—it helps with elimination whether you struggle with constipation or diarrhea. However, if you are short of stature and/or have mobility problems, it might be challenging to use.
For the $25 price, you get a sturdy, helpful item that supports a company dedicated to “improving bathroom health” around the world. The plastic is manufactured with recyclable or renewable materials and a portion of sales are donated to organizations that spread awareness about digestive health and about the drawbacks of Western toilets. Their mission is a good and helpful one and though it seems simplistic, the benefits are great.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.