When you work as a gastroenterologist, people tend to ask a lot of poop-related questions. In particular, family and friends are always curious to know whether the Squatty Potty is legit, says Dr. Peter Stanich, assistant professor at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre and College of Medicine.
Well, now he can give an official, science-backed answer: It is.
The Squatty Potty, best known for appearing on Shark Tank and its viral commercial showing a unicorn passing rainbow colored poop, has been called life changing, and boasts more than 4,000 Amazon reviews. Naturally, it garners some interest from patients.
"The Squatty Potty is in social media, and family and friends will bring it up," Stanich explains to Men's Health. "Once you’re interested in GI, you get a lot of questions about it."
So a team of doctors at Ohio State University decided to look into whether the contraptions, scientifically called "defecation postural modification devices," really help the average person poop. They rounded up 52 people who agreed to answer questions about their bowel movements immediately following a trip to the bathroom. During the first two weeks, everyone pooped as they normally would; then, they used the Squatty Potty for the final two week. Researchers compared participants' responses and determined that 71 percent of people experienced faster bowel movements and 90 percent reported less straining when using the device. The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.
Stanich believes the Squatty Potty helps prop you in a more natural position for bowel movements. This "allows you to have a more rapid and complete emptying of the rectum" because the rectum doesn't have to work as hard, he says.
Since everyone enlisted in the study was considered to have normal gastrointestinal health, more research is needed to determine who the device would work best for. However, Stanich has already started recommending the Squatty Potty to patients whose constipation aren't caused by severe medical issues.
Technically, constipation is diagnosed when you have fewer than three bowel movements a week. However, Stanich says everyone is different. Some people really might only poop twice a week. It becomes a problem when you begin to experience discomfort, too.
If you have the occasional bout of constipation, the Squatty Potty may work for you. But Stanich warns people not to blow off persistent bowel problems.
"If you have constipation make sure to talk to your doctor about it. It can be an indication of severe health issues," he warns.
This article originally appeared on Men's Health