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Is it healthy to sit on the toilet for a long time?

Sitting on the toilet for an extended period of time is very common. Many people find themselves scrolling on their phones or reading a book while on the toilet. But is this habit actually healthy or harmful?

How long is too long to sit on the toilet?

There is no definitive answer for how long is too long to sit on the toilet. Some sources suggest keeping bathroom visits under 10 minutes. Others say anything over 20-30 minutes could be problematic.

Gastroenterologists generally advise against routinely exceeding 10 minutes on the toilet. Spending too long on the toilet can cause problems like:

  • Hemorrhoids – Excessive straining or prolonged sitting can increase pressure in the veins of the anus, causing them to swell and potentially bleed.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs) – Holding urine for too long allows bacteria to multiply, increasing UTI risk.
  • Fecal impaction – Long toilet sitting without successful bowel movements can cause feces to collect and become lodged in the colon.

However, there is no universal time limit. Factors like diet, hydration status, medications and underlying conditions can all impact individual bathroom needs.

A good general guideline is to limit leisurely toilet time to 5-10 minutes. If bowel movements or urination do not occur in that window, it may be best to finish up and try again later.

Potential benefits of longer toilet time

Although excessive time on the toilet has risks, some potential benefits of longer toilet sitting include:

  • Avoiding constipation – Sitting on the toilet for a few extra minutes can help those prone to constipation give their bowels more time to empty.
  • Lower stress – Since the bathroom offers privacy, some people find their time on the toilet provides a brief escape from stressors of work and family life.
  • Bladder emptying – Research indicates the average bladder takes 2-3 minutes to fully empty. People, especially those with prostrate issues, may require more time to void completely.

However, these benefits would not generally require exceeding 10 total minutes on the toilet. Taking a little extra time is fine, but moderation is still key.

Potential risks and complications of prolonged toilet sitting

Sitting on the toilet too long carries a range of possible risks and complications including:

  • Hemorrhoids – Straining while sitting on the toilet can cause swollen, painful veins in the anus. Hemorrhoids can bleed or lead to more serious complications.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs) – Holding urine for long periods allows bacteria to grow, increasing the risk of painful UTIs which may require antibiotics.
  • Chronic constipation – Long toilet sits can cause progressive loss of normal bowel function and make constipation worse over time.
  • Bowel obstruction – Excessive straining can potentially cause parts of the bowel to protrude from the anus leading to tissue injury and obstruction.
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction – The pelvic floor muscles can weaken if you sit on the toilet too long, leading to problems with bowel and bladder control.
  • Hemorrhoidal plexus prolapse – In severe cases, prolonged toilet sitting and straining can prolapse the hemorrhoidal plexus, requiring medical treatment.

Heart patients may also be at increased risk, as excessive straining raises blood pressure and slows heart rate. Additionally, prolonged sitting after meals can contribute to reflux symptoms in those with acid reflux.

Tips for improving toilet habits

If you frequently spend excess time on the toilet, try improving your habits with these tips:

  • Limit leisure activities like phones and reading on the toilet.
  • Stay hydrated to avoid constipation and the need to strain.
  • Eat more fiber to allow smoother bowel movements.
  • Do not ignore urges to defecate or urinate.
  • Get off the toilet if movements do not occur shortly after sitting down.
  • Consider set times for bowel movements rather than waiting for urge.
  • See a doctor if you have chronic constipation or difficulty urinating.
  • Perform kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles.
  • Use a stool or squatty potty to lift your feet into a squat.

Adjusting your diet, bowel routine and toilet posture can all help you spend a healthier amount of time on the toilet.

Special considerations for children

Prolonged toilet sitting also poses risks for children, but they may need more time than adults. Some considerations for kids include:

  • Avoid playing games or toys as rewards for sitting on the toilet.
  • Have them sit for 5 minutes before assisting, then try again later if unsuccessful.
  • Ensure potty chairs are the right size and position.
  • Encourage activity and hydration to avoid constipation.
  • Do not scold them or express frustration at failed attempts.

It can take time for children to develop regular bathroom habits. With patience and gentle guidance, their toilet skills will improve.

When to seek medical advice

You should consult a doctor if you experience:

  • Prolonged or worsening constipation
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • A hemorrhoid that does not improve with over-the-counter remedies
  • Difficulty controlling bowel movements
  • Frequent or painful urination

A physician can perform an examination, provide diagnosis, and recommend treatment options. Seek prompt medical care if you experience fever, vomiting, or other concerning symptoms along with toilet difficulties.


Sitting on the toilet for the necessary time to empty the bowel and bladder is normal. But spending excessive time on the toilet routinely can lead to medical issues like hemorrhoids, constipation, pelvic dysfunction, and more. Aim for relatively quick toilet visits limited to 5-10 minutes when possible. Adjust diet, bowel habits, exercise, and toilet posture as needed. See a doctor if you have ongoing difficulties with bowel movements or urination.