Author: Stephanie Bobinger, PT
Being wary of coming into contact with germs is generally a good thing, with one notable exception for women: We should not hover over toilets when urinating.
Did that surprise you? It’s something most of us have done, yet nobody really wants to talk about it. Why is “hovering” not a good idea?
Squatting over instead of sitting down on the toilet can change the mechanics of urinating; over time that can increase the risk of lowering urinary tract symptoms including pelvic floor dysfunction and infections.
Let me explain.
I'm part of the pelvic health physical therapy team at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. We are specialty trained to assess the musculoskeletal system in relation to bowel, bladder and sexual function, with an emphasis on the pelvic floor.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that constitute part of the “core” located at the base of the pelvis – the muscles you may be sitting on right now. They work to maintain continence, eliminate urine and stool, support our organs and posture, and enhance sexual function. We use them all the time.
Pelvic floor dysfunction can include muscle weakness, over-activity and discoordination. Symptoms we can experience but sometimes consider “normal” present differently. Do you ever leak urine with a cough or sneeze? Do you struggle to make it to the restroom in time? Do you have to keep going back to pee? Do you have discomfort before, during or after you urinate? Do you feel like you have a tampon in even though you don’t? These conditions affect a lot of people.
When you hover, your hips have to hold you in midair. If you’re in a partial squat, it doesn't allow the full excursion for urine to flow. The path of urine is impaired, and it’s not as open. The stream can change; that’s when we may develop habits to empty all the way like straining and bearing down. That extra force can be damaging to the body.
Also, if we do not empty the bladder sufficiently, that residual urine can create bacteria that increase risk for urinary tract infections. That extra urine also can contribute to incontinence.
We often wonder why women hover over the toilet, and we find it’s very situational.
Some women self-perceive that they have a bladder problem, which leads to a toileting behavior. Some women don’t use public toilets. Some go to the bathroom very frequently to avoid the risk of leaking. Some women have specific positions for urine to flow. Some women in other countries have to squat to use the “toilet.”
If you hover over the toilet urinating, I encourage you to consider why. Do you do this at home or just in public? Do you do this for lower toilets or all toilets? Do you have a pain or mobility reason limiting your ability to sit on the toilet?
If the problem is the seat itself, there are ways of modifying it. For instance, you can cover the toilet seat, spray it with sanitizer or get an elevated seat. If the problem is trouble emptying the bladder, try sitting fully and leaning forward over your knees. If the problem is leaking before you can get to the toilet, you can employ breathing techniques to calm down to give you more time. Through pelvic health therapy, we educate behavioral techniques for bladder control and continence in addition to muscle training for support.
One simple technique is not to hurry. We typically tend to rush when we use the restroom, and most of us likely don’t sit long enough to empty our bladders because we’re off to our next task or our children are banging outside the door. Even if you can take 30 seconds to slowly breathe, you may notice better urine flow and protect your pelvis.
If any of the symptoms discussed resonate with you, please talk with your primary medical provider. Help also can be found through specialists in urology or urogynecology in addition to pelvic health. Just remember: Use proper sitting techniques, take your time and breathe. Your body will love you for it in the long run.
Stephanie Bobinger is a clinical specialist in pelvic health at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
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Do women hover over toilets? ›
Only 7 percent reported they would use a paper cover or toilet tissue, 7 percent might hover depending on circumstances, and only 3 percent hovered consistently.Why do women hover over toilet seats? ›
Hovering over a toilet seat is a very common method for avoiding contact with germs while using the restroom, but Karlovsky says that that distinctive half-squat forces your pelvic muscles to move unnaturally. “You are training your muscles to not relax,” he told Shape.What does it mean to hover over the toilet? ›
If you are wondering what we mean by "hovering" we're talking about those who only get down in a slight squat position and do not touch their thighs or bottoms to the toilet. If you are one of those who hover over the toilet instead of sitting down to urinate, we strongly advise you to stop the habit immediately.Why should you not hover over a toilet seat? ›
In summary, hovering over a toilet seat does not allow urine to flow easily. If you do not empty the bladder sufficiently due to your position during the hovering process, the residual urine can create bacteria and increase your chances of getting urinary tract infections (UTIs).How should a woman sit on a toilet? ›
Sit up straight so that your pelvic floor will naturally engage while you're in the bathroom. Dr. Jeffcoat stresses that this is the proper way to sit on the toilet because you want your body to be at the best angle to empty your bowels and bladder.Are guys supposed to put the toilet seat down? ›
Any household shared by men and women inevitably deals with a pressing question: what do you do with the toilet seat after it's used? Conventionally, it's considered courteous for men to always lower the seat back down after they've urinated.Why do girls go to the toilet in groups? ›
Sometimes it's just better and safer to go as a couple or in groups; it's simply a precaution. Of course, some women are just awkward or have an anxiety of being alone, in which case having a friend by their side is reassuring, even if it is in the toilet.Why do people care about leaving the toilet seat up? ›
The lid was designed to keep germs where they belong, in the bowl and down the drain! If you leave the lid up when you flush, those germs can float around your bathroom, landing on any available surface, including towels, hairbrushes or even toothbrushes.Is crouching on the toilet normal? ›
While Americans and other Westerners have always sat on the toilet, people in Asia and Africa squat when they go. In these cultures, people consider squatting to poop a more natural position than sitting. The problem with sitting is that it keeps the kink in your lower bowel.What does a rocking toilet mean? ›
Toilets usually rock because they are not resting flush against the floor. Underneath the toilet base is a round toilet flange that connects the toilet to the drain pipe. If the flange is a little higher than the surrounding flooring, the toilet becomes raised slightly in the center, allowing it to rock to either side.
Do you hover over a bidet? ›
Position Yourself at the Bidet
Position yourself to use the bidet by straddling the bowl. It's acceptable to sit on the rim of the bowl, but many users will squat or “hover” over the bidet.
So, yes, you can sit on that toilet seat with little fear, just make sure you wash your hands when you're done. And, of course, if you're not feeling that adventurous, there's always the paper cover thingies.Is there a female urinal? ›
A female urinal is a urinal designed for the female anatomy to allow for ease of use by women and girls. Different models enable urination in standing, semi-squatting, or squatting postures, but usually without direct bodily contact with the toilet.Which way should a girl wipe? ›
Unless you have physical limitations that prevent you from doing so (more on this later), it's best to reach around your body, behind your back and through your legs. This position allows you to wipe your anus from front to back, ensuring that feces is always moving away from your urethra.Why do guys sit on the toilet so long? ›
A few blamed “boredom”, others “relaxation” and “hygiene”. But the most common response, with almost 80 percent of the vote, was that they were in there “to get some alone time”.What is a female friendly toilet? ›
The guide recommends consideration of six requirements for female-friendly toilets: safety and privacy; allowing for menstrual hygiene management; accessibility; affordability and availability; good maintenance and management; and meeting the additional requirements of caregivers. WaterAid. 9.25K subscribers.How can I get my boyfriend to put the toilet seat down? ›
- Potty (toilet) mouth.
- Tip Alert toilet seat alarm.
- Ask nicely, over and over.
- Purchase a “Put Me down” Tag for your toilet.
- Reward him with praise:
Someone Will Fall Into It If You Leave It Up
If you're sleepy, thinking about something else, or just not looking closely, it is very easy to not notice that the toilet seat is up, and accidentally plunk your butt into germ water or onto the nasty rim. Women are not the only ones who can accidentally fall into toilets.
For men, proper etiquette involves lifting the seat before urinating, then cleaning up any spatter or stray drops from the rim of the toilet afterwards. People might get a pass on cleaning the rim of the toilet —especially if it's already filthy — but not putting the seat up before urinating is really low-class.What is the Tik Tok toilet trend? ›
The “Overload” method involves absolutely filling your toilet bowl up with as many cleaning products as you possibly can. This leads to rainbow effects and all kinds of bubbles and textures, which are weirdly nice to look at.
How do boys aim on toilet? ›
It is possible to purchase toilet training stickers for boy that are designed to stick inside the toilet bowl. This provides a visual target for them to aim at. If you don't like the idea of having a sticker permanently on display, try using a single 'Cheerio' or other puffed breakfast cereal of a reasonable size.What is toilet seat etiquette? ›
As a general principle, it's best to leave the seat in the position in which you yourself used it, with the responsibility being on the next user, whatever their gender, to put the seat into the appropriate position to suit their particular anatomy.What are the cons of leaving the toilet seat up? ›
Leaving the seat up not only provides an outlet for that bacteria to escape but it also increases the risk of flu and norovirus spreading to others. “It is a good idea to lower the seat, especially if the bathroom is used by multiple people,” Philip Tierno, a microbiologist previously told Tech Insider.Why are there no toilet seats in Italy? ›
Most Italian public toilets don't have a toilet seat.
This has to do with maintenance. Since public toilets are often less than spotless, people often climb with their shoes on top of them, not to sit on a potentially dirty seat.
In the thirteenth century the Japanese, who were largely a farming people, began to use the waste taken out of these toilets as fertilizer. Traditional Japanese toilets consist of a hole or basin in the floor and are not made to sit on but to squat over.What are the benefits of sitting in Indian toilet position? ›
Indian toilet seat improves digestion by pushing, pressurizing, and churning the food in your stomach, squatting helps with digestion. Sitting in a toilet designed for westerners does not impose any pressure on our stomachs, and it occasionally even prevents satisfactory and good stool clearance.What is a ghost toilet? ›
Ghost flushing, also known as phantom flushing, occurs when the toilet tank flapper is no longer creating a watertight seal with the flush valve, causing water to unnecessarily leak into the toilet bowl.What is toilet anxiety? ›
Toilet phobia involves fears around toilets, which can include: fear of being too far from a toilet, fear of using a public toilet, fear that others may be watching or scrutinising/listening, or fears of not being able to go to the toilet.Why do toilets look the way they do? ›
Simnick explains that the open seat was designed to allow women “to wipe the perineal area after using the water closet” without contacting a seat that might be unhygienic. The U-shaped seat in public restrooms is a requirement of IAPMO's Uniform Plumbing Code.How do you hover over a public toilet? ›
For the least messy results, try placing your feet fairly wide apart (think wider than hip-width). This will create a steady base. Then hover towards the seat while leaning slightly forward. Many people find it useful to try to balance their hands or elbows on your thighs while leaning forward to prevent wobbling.