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Humans use one of two types of defecation postures to defecate: squatting, or sitting. People use the squatting postures when using squat toilets or when defecating in the open in the absence of toilets. The sitting posture on the other hand is used in toilets that have a pedestal or "throne", where users generally lean forward or sit at 90-degrees to a toilet seat.
In general, the preferred posture is largely a cultural decision. However, people need to adapt their defecation posture to the toilet type available to them, e.g. while travelling or if moving to another country.
The sitting defecation posture involves sitting with hips and knees at approximately right angles, as on a chair. So-called "Western-style" flush toilets and also many types of dry toilets are designed to be used in a sitting posture.
Sitting toilets only came into widespread use in Europe in the nineteenth century.
Special devices exist in the form of "wrap-around foot stools" to allow users of western-style toilets to defecate in a posture that is somewhat similar to squatting.
The squatting defecation posture involves squatting, or crouching. It requires standing with knees and hips sharply bent and the buttocks close to the ground. Squat toilets are designed to facilitate this posture. These kinds of toilets are widespread in countries with a Muslim or Hindu majority and are often set up to enable anal cleansing with water (see Islamic toilet etiquette).
In a 2003 study, it was found that both the time needed for sensation of satisfactory bowel emptying and the degree of subjectively assessed straining in the squatting position were reduced sharply in all volunteers compared with both sitting positions (P < 0.0001). In conclusion, the present study confirmed that sensation of satisfactory bowel emptying in sitting defecation posture necessitates excessive expulsive effort compared to the squatting posture.
People who are not used to squat toilets, as well as overweight people, people with disabilities, and elderly people tend to find squatting as a defecation posture difficult, and may therefore prefer sitting.
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