People with penises: If you’ve spent your life standing when you pee, it’s time to rethink your urinary posture. Standing is (probably) the Western world’s most common micturition position among those with penises, but it’s far from universal. Men in some cultures traditionally sit or squat when they pee, and even among cultural pee-standers, there’s evidence that the paradigm is shifting. In Japan, for instance, an August 2020 poll showed that 70 percent of men sat, compared to 51 percent five years previously. Beyond the cultural conditioning that insists there is (or should be) a gender difference in urination style, there aren’t many good reasons for standing up, and there are a ton of them for sitting.
It’s the right choice for anyone with prostrate problems
If you have an enlarged prostate or other lower urinary tract symptoms, you probably should pee sitting down. Researchers from the Department of Urology at Leiden University Medical Center looked into how body position during urination affects “maximum urinary flow rate,” “voiding time,” and “post-void residual volume.” Their conclusion: “The sitting posture is the best position for men with urination problems, e.g. due to an enlarged prostate, to urinate in.”
Sitting voids the bladder more fully, which can result in fewer complications such as cystitis and bladder stones. It’s not a negligible effect either: According to the study, body posture can influence “urodynamic parameters…to an extent approaching pharmacological interventions.” The research doesn’t address the optimum pee-position for healthy men, but there are tons of non-medical advantages to choosing the stall over the urinal.
Science says that it’s cleaner
I doubt anyone who has ever cleaned a bathroom used by men would need scientific proof of the mess that standing creates, but in case you do, physicists Tadd Truscott and Randy Hurd from Brigham Young University took a deep-dive into “splashback” caused by urination and presented their finding at the 66th Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting in 2013.
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Using high-speed cameras, their knowledge of fluid dynamics, and a bespoke urination simulation machine called “The Water Angle Navigation Guide,” these whiz kids concluded that splashback can be lessened if urine is aimed at a more downward angle and the urinator is closer to the target. You can see it demonstrated in this video.
The best way to get that optimum angle and positioning is to have a seat: “Sitting down is the best sure-fire way to avoid unwanted splashing in a traditional toilet,” Hurd told BBC.
More than just being gross, splashback is a legitimate health concern, particularly in hospitals, as it can facilitate the spreading of harmful bacteria.
Disagreements about toilet seat positions
According to extensive research conducted by hacky stand-up comedians in the 1990s, choosing to sit while peeing would eliminate the majority of our nation’s domestic arguments, as most of them are over putting the toilet seat down. (Women, amiright?)
For me, the choice between sitting and standing is situational. I’m not sitting down in the stall at a ballpark or something, but if I’m home, I might decide to chill. There’s one situation where I always choose to sit, though: if I’m a guest in someone else’s home. It’s quieter and cleaner, and I like to be a good guest.
More choice is a positive thing
I’m not going to go into great detail here, but sitting down provides options that standing up does not, and who doesn’t want to be free to make choices on the fly?
“It’s faster” versus “What’s all the rush about?”
One of the main arguments in favor of standing to pee is that it’s faster, more efficient, and more in keeping with the constant demand for action of our fast-paced society. Another is that “men pee standing and women pee sitting.” Sitting while peeing is a rebuke to both arguments. It’s as an act of transgression against both outdated gender norms and our puritanical work ethic. Sitting to pee is showing solidarity with women, men with certain disabilities, and men without penises, as well as striking a blow against capitalist monopolization of even our most private moments by stealing a few minutes back for ourselves.
Honestly, though, I’m mainly in favor so I have more time to look at Twitter. If you futz around with your phone while stand-peeing, it’s only a matter of time until you drop it in the toilet.
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