If you’ve ever wished pooping were easier, the Squatty Potty, our pick for the best toilet stool, could help. Some doctors agree that for some people, elevating their knees above their hips while on the toilet can help with hemorrhoids or constipation, since this position encourages less straining than sitting does. In fact, squatting is standard bathroom practice in many parts of the world. In our own testing, pooping was indeed easier and more pleasant with a toilet stool.
Personally, I could feel that poop had a smoother path out of my body. Two co-workers reported similar results. After a few days of pooping with a stool, one reported that it helped them “eliminate all at once.”
“I don’t have to force or push nearly as much,” they explained. “Morning poops have been made so great.”
There is a little research that suggests our test experiences using toilet stools aren’t unique. The authors of a small 2003 study (PDF) involving 28 participants (who reported on 18 poops each) concluded that people more quickly reach the “sensation of satisfactory bowel emptying” when squatting or near-squatting versus sitting.
Your mileage may vary, especially if you don’t usually have trouble pooping as is. One participant in the study reported that all poops in each position were “very easy.” And not everyone on the Wirecutter staff who has used a toilet stool is sold on them. Writer Nick Guy reported: “We have one, and neither of us has noticed any difference while using it.”
Using a toilet stool does require considerable ability to bend your legs while seated. “I’m clearly just too inflexible,” said senior editor Harry Sawyers. “It puts my knees at just too awkward an angle, too high to be comfortable.”
But do you need to spend money on a special stool just for pooping? I had tried truly squatting on the toilet before—feet on the seat—and concluded that the balancing act wasn’t feasible as a long-term solution. So I perused my home for objects that could serve the same purpose as a toilet stool. I considered an IKEA stool (too tall), stacks of books (too unwieldy), and other things, finally landing on an orange milk crate.
I flipped the crate upside down and used it to squat while on the toilet. The top of the crate was nearly level with the seat, providing a deep (but uncomfortable) squat, and the criss-cross of the plastic dug into my feet. When I was done using the crate, it just sat in the middle of my small bathroom, rather than tucking beneath the bowl (as most toilet stools do). That alone is worth the cost of a stool to me.