Too Much Time on the Toilet Can Be a Pain in the Backside

It is somewhat of a great American pastime. Sure, it’s not baseball and it’s certainly not something you will see depicted in a Norman Rockwell painting. But it turns out many of us like to spend time sitting on the toilet. It used to be reading a book, but now we linger in the bathroom checking to see what our friends are up to on social media, reading the local news, or even doing some online shopping.

It may seem like you’re killing two birds with one stone, but what you’re really doing with all that extra time on the toilet could be more sinister: You may be giving yourself hemorrhoids, or at least contributing to the piles you already have.

Sitting Can Cause or Contribute to Hemorrhoids

Doctors and researchers have long known that people whose professions require them to sit for long periods of time are at an increased risk for hemorrhoids. Truckers and office workers who stay in the same position for hours at a time, for example, are more likely to develop hemorrhoids than someone with a more active job.

During prolonged sitting, the weight of your body pushes the blood vessels inside your rectum and around your anus downward. This can cause irritation, swelling, and the symptoms we commonly associate with a hemorrhoid flare-up.

Interestingly enough, research also show that extended standing can cause many of the same symptoms because of the pull of gravity on this tissue. We recommend varying your position as frequently as possible throughout the day.

Why Is the Toilet So Bad?

If spending the whole work day sitting down at work is bad, can spending a few extra minutes on the toilet really be that much worse? The answer is yes. Because of the design of the toilet seat, you are putting direct downward pressure on the veins and the anus. At the same time, the open seat provides no support for the anal area.

Additionally, if you are on the toilet because you are straining, things are even worse. You should increase the fiber in your diet as soon as possible, and spend only as much time as you have to sitting on the toilet.

When you consider how bad spending a few extra minutes on the toilet once or twice a day is for your body, it seems like a fairly simple habit to break. If you still want to have peace and quiet in the bathroom, try finishing your business, washing your hands, and then checking your phone or reading the next chapter in your book.

Cutting Your Risk By Making Other Small Changes

A number of factors play a role in who develops hemorrhoids and how bad they get. Some of them – genetics, age, and pregnancy – are somewhat out of your control. However, most of the rest of them are well within your control and require you to make only small changes to your everyday life to combat.

Limiting the time you spend sitting on the toilet everyday to only the time actually necessary to have a bowel movement can help you reduce your risk, and take little effort. Consider how many of these other small changes you can make to reduce your risk:

  • Go for a short walk several times a day, even if it’s only around your house or inside the office
  • Stretch by your desk or go to a lunchtime yoga class
  • Change positions regularly, especially if you have a job where you sit in one position all day
  • Increase your water intake
  • Make it a goal to eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Add a fiber supplement, if your doctor approves

While modern hemorrhoid treatments offer many effective options and they are much easier to endure than the gold standard of invasive surgical removal just a few years ago, it’s still not something you want to experience. By making small changes in your life you can reduce your risk of developing hemorrhoids, or possibly prevent a recurrence if you had a previous issue with piles.