News flush! Do you make these common toilet mistakes?

By Health and Wellbeing Expert Stephanie Taylor at StressNoMore

According to a recent survey, Brits spend an average of three and a half hours on the toilet a week, with another poll revealing that most people go for a number two at least once a day.

So, after spending so much time on the toilet, we should be experts on the best practices when sitting on the throne, right? Wrong.

It might seem like a simple task but there is a long list of mistakes you could be making.

Here, Health and Wellbeing Expert Stephanie Taylor, founder of StressNoMore, lifts the lid on the most common toilet mistakes and how they could be impacting your health…

Sitting incorrectly

Until we invented the toilet, humans opened their bowels by squatting down, like other animals. Since then, while we might feel more civilised, we’ve been causing ourselves some serious health problems.
That’s because our muscles around our rectum control whether our bodies are in continence or elimination mode (whether we poo or not). When sitting down the anorectal angle is kinked, and the puborectalis muscle chokes the rectum, keeping faeces inside.

Instead, when we squat and lift our knees higher than our hips, the anorectal angle is straightened and the puborectalis muscle releases the rectum making pooping much easier.

So, sitting on the loo keeps our bodies in continence mode and makes it difficult to eliminate waste. If you don’t get rid of all faeces, this can cause constipation, which can lead to bowel disease or appendicitis.

Solution: Consider buying a toilet stool, which helps you achieve the best squatting position and puts your muscles into elimination mode for a healthy bowel movement without excessive straining.

Staying on the toilet for too long

While you might enjoy sitting on the toilet, reading the newspaper or scrolling through social media, this could be damaging your rectum.

When you sit there, with your anus at a different level than the rest of your bottom half, this puts extra pressure on the veins in your lower rectum, which could eventually lead to haemorrhoids that can be uncomfortable and result in rectal bleeding.

Solution: Avoid sitting on the toilet for too long at a time. Instead, only sit for as long as you feel the urge to go and, if nothing is happening, get up and do something else. According to a study, it should only take five minutes to open your bowels, and if you have been sitting for longer than 15 minutes with no bowel movement, this might indicate that you are constipated.

Straining when you go

Harder stools can be a pain, especially when forced to strain, as this puts pressure on the muscles and blood vessels making them swell.

The pressure can lead to painful haemorrhoids (piles) inside and outside the anus, that if faced with more hard bowel movements, can hit a blood vessel and result in rectal bleeding.

In addition, straining can result in anal fissures – a small tear in the large intestine near the anus, which can be itchy, painful and result in bleeding. Or, in the worst cases, rectal prolapse, where your rectum drops through your anus.

Solution: If you’re straining, it’s likely due to constipation. Try upping your fibre intake to loosen your bowels and if the problem persists, visit a doctor for advice and correct medication.

Using scented paper or wipes

You might think that using toilet paper or wipes that smell nice is more hygienic and helps things smell better down there, yet they’re not good for your intimate health at all.

If used too frequently, the chemicals in scented wipes can irritate the skin around your anus, causing it to itch or burn. Otherwise known as ‘pruritus ani’ or ‘polished anus syndrome’, experts suggest this affects at least five percent of the population.

Solution: Ensure you clean your anus gently using only plain white, unscented toilet paper and check that the area is completely dry before putting any underwear back on.