Saturday, April 16, 2011

Good Toilet Posture

In the decade since being diagnosed with Crohn's disease I've had major surgeries, minor surgeries and invasive procedures. I've seen doctors and physio's, chiropractors and dieticians, nurses and a host of allied health. I've experienced pain that ranged from minor discomfort to excruciating agony. The main line of defence has been medication. Fair enough, it's a medical condition and doctors work within a medical model.

Anyone with any type of digestive disorder knows that diet is just as important as medication in managing symptoms, yet for the most part Gastroenterologists are fairly blasé about it's impact, citing that there's no real evidence to say one way or another. Which raises an interesting question in itself. Why isn't there, if, as sufferers we know that it does? but that's probably a topic for another blog. I once saw a dietician who was so concerned by my weight loss she recommended adding saturated fats to my diet to "calorie add". I don't even know where to begin to explain why thats at least ten kinds of wrong. Most of what I know I've learnt through either my own research, from talking to other people with IBD or from experience. Basically, the medical community associated with IBD has contributed very little to my understanding and management of my illness outside of the drugs and surgical interventions.

Compare that with my recent experiences during pregnancy, labour and post-partum. Obstetrics, if you'll pardon the pun, has really got it's shit together. In a three day admission I saw midwives, ObGyn, paediatrician and even had a 45 minute one on one session with a physiotherapist. There was a checklist of education topics covering everything from the physical, emotional and practical aspects of having just birthed a baby and having to care for that baby post discharge. Post-natal depression was raised frequently. I can't remember the last time, if ever, I was asked how Crohn's was impacting on my mental state.

Despite gastroenterology's almost complete medicalisation of the disease, it amazes me that not one person has ever spoken to me about toilet posture. Toilet posture (you would think) would be fairly important, given that going to the loo itself is the cause of much physical pain and apprehension.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I wandered to the toilet for the first time after giving birth, stitched up and both sore and swollen, dreading the inevitable pain that was sure to come, only to find a poster on the wall explaining how to go to the toilet without doing yourself damage. Why did it take having a baby to get my hands on this? I'm of the opinion that a brochure on correct toilet posture should be handed out with the What is Crohn's brochure on diagnosis.

How to go to the toilet
Don’t ignore urges to use your bladder or bowel.
Avoid straining - take your time when you empty your bladder and bowel to make sure they are completely empty.

The best position to sit on the toilet is:
Sit leaning forward with your knees higher than your hips
Legs wide apart with your elbows on your thighs
Let your tummy bulge out and relax
Always sit on the toilet seat. Do not hover above it
Stay relaxed on the toilet; relax your breathing
Allow yourself time, do not rush.



  1. When I was diagnosed with IBD I got given a prescription for medication, told to avoid fruit/vegetables & high fibre foods. I was also told I could take panadeine forte for pain. That was it. No other advise, assistance, suggestions. Nothing. Apart from the medication there was nothing new there for me. I'd largely been avoiding all of those for years. Not good is it...

  2. It was pretty much the same for me. I didn't even know there was a Crohn's Association until a friend of a friend mentioned it in passing once.
    It shouldn't be that way.

  3. Just found your blog and love it! I love the picture of the woman on the one ever told me that. Often I am laying on the floor between episodes moaning! I'll be back to read more.

  4. Hi Mo, it's funny but the more people with IBD I speak to the more I realise that this toilet posture has been a well guarded secret. Virtually nobody seems to know about it.

  5. Hi there, I'm a uni student making a brochure about perineal trauma. I'd like to.use this image for correct toileting posture. Do you know if it's copyright affected?