Sitting on the Toilet for Too Long Will Wreck Your Butt

Prepare yourself to read the phrase “rectal prolapse” a lot.

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Men spend an average of one hour and 35 minutes on the toilet each week, according to a recent study—that’s about 14 minutes per day. This should surprise no one, considering that 53 percent of guys get caught up staring at their phones while sitting on the throne. And while we understand why men spend so much time on the John—for some people, especially parents, the only time they get to themselves is in the bathroom—we feel obligated to warn you that sitting on the toilet for too long can result in hemorrhoids, AKA, bulging blood vessels around the anus (ugh).

Here’s how it happens: “Sitting on the toilet puts excessive pressure on the veins in the rectum, especially if you strain to produce a bowel movement,” explains primary care physician Dr. Marc Leavey. “Prolonged pressure on those veins produces hemorrhoids, a swelling of the rectal veins that can ultimately lead to bleeding and possibly even rectal prolapse [that is, when the rectum telescopes out through the anus].”

We’ll let that soak in for a second.

Okay. Now that your mind is filled with images of rectal prolapse (do not search the internet for images of rectal prolapse, you will regret it), let’s talk about how long too long really is. “Frankly, if you’re sitting on the toilet for longer than it takes to poop, that’s likely too long,” Leavey says. If you’re planning on timing yourself, the medical community generally agrees that you should limit the time you spend sitting on the toilet to ten minutes or less.

If you find that it consistently takes you longer than this to take care of business, consider eating more fiber, which helps ward off constipation. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes are all good sources of fiber.

On the other hand, if your phone is the only thing keeping you glued to the seat, remember this: Recent research—admittedly cited by a company selling an ultraviolet phone-cleaning device—claims that not only is the average cell phone crawling with 18 times more germs than a public restroom, but one in six phones actually contain traces of fecal matter. So unless you want a poop-covered phone (and then face), keep it in your pocket until you’ve taken care of business. Your face and butt will thank you.