As Sri Lankan’s, e’ve all been there. That one time when we had a full bladder and feared for the dignity of our entire adult lives which now inconveniently relied on our bladder. You encounter a less-than-clean bathroom at a bar, the gym, the mall or public toilet when you just can’t hold it anymore and are forced to dash into the closest toilet. No matter how bad you have to go, there’s no way in hell that you’re going to sit on that unhygienic seat.
Using a common bathroom is always a bit of a gamble and sometimes it can be a downright horrifying experience.
Agreed, it’s not one of our best moments in life. But you gotta go when you gotta go.
Your genius move, of course, is the hover, the squat, the crouch. Whatever you call it, you know it: You carefully lower your bottom over the toilet seat without actually making skin contact with that cesspool.
And you end up doing something like this:
But, this genius move isn’t actually all that great for you—and experts advice you may want to stop doing it entirely.
When you don’t completely sit down, your muscles are not completely relaxed,” says Carol Figuers, PT, EdD, professor, and director of student affairs in the doctor of physical therapy division at Duke University School of Medicine. Figuers works with athletes and new moms to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles and educates physical therapy students on pelvic health. “In order for the bladder to completely empty, the pelvic floor muscles have to be let go.
As you squat over the seat, she says, your pelvic floor muscles are probably still 30% or 40% tensed. “When you stand back up, you’ll still have a little bit of urine left in there because the muscles didn’t completely relax,” she explains.
With pee left inside your bladder, you risk an accidental leak if you jump, cough, laugh or sneeze. Plus, that “old” urine you’re carrying around can irritate the inside of the bladder, making you feel like you’ve gotta go more often or more urgently than you really do.
However, the Sri Lankan squatting style public toilets makes us more comfortable using one and doesn’t require that awkward half-way gym squats that you’ve been doing on the modern toilets.
2. The Neat Toilet Paper Nest
If the public bathroom was kind enough to provide you with toilet papers, then it would be a no-brainer for you to come up with this.
You use the toilet paper pieces to cover the seat so you at least get to create a barrier between you and all that nasty bacteria.
Well, it turns out that it’s not that neat in reality and in fact that it’s not the best approach at all.
You would assume that public toilet covers are filled with bacteria, but the actual seats are cleverly designed to not pick up any. The smooth and curved surfaces of the seats are deliberately designed to prevent bacteria from hanging around and quite safe to sit on.
So then where are all the germs in a toilet?
On the toilet paper. Let that sink in.
Exposed toilet papers in bathrooms are a breeding ground for germs. Germs actually have an easier time sticking to the light thin paper. So every time someone flushes before you, you can bet all those germs from the bowl inevitably settles on the nearby toilet paper.
If you happen to stumble upon a public bathroom that protects its rolls of toilet paper with a plastic or metal cover, you’re in luck, because that paper is shielded from germs.
So then what do you do?
Below listed are your options from best to worst:
- Keep a pack of tissues with you always to use in situations like these.
- If the toilet cover is dry, then sit on it. You have better odds with it than the exposed toilet paper.
- If the toilet paper is thankfully covered by a plastic or a metal cover then go for the Toilet Paper Nest.
- Go for the squat but don’t repeat it often.
There you go. Lesson on conquering public bathrooms is covered.
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