10 Ways You Never Knew You Were Using the Toilet Wrong

You gotta look before you flush, ease up when you wipe, and, yes, there is a right way to hang toilet paper.

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iStock/Petar-Chernaev

You sit too long…

It's quiet in the bathroom. You can actually lock the door and sit uninterrupted with a magazine, book or, more likely, a smartphone. But you really need to find another spot for a little "me time." Sitting perched in that position too long puts extra stress on the veins in the lowest part of your rectum; if those veins swell or bulge, it's "hello, hemorrhoids." In many cases hemorrhoids usually clear up within a week, but in the meantime, can be itchy, uncomfortable, and are the most common cause of rectal bleeding. If you see any bright red spots on your stool or toilet paper after you wipe, talk to your doctor to make sure the bleeding isn't a symptom of colon cancer or another serious condition. He or she may also suggest over-the-counter creams or ointments to treat persistent and painful hemorrhoids.

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iStock/Kemter

…and push too hard

Straining and holding your breath to get stubborn stool out not only ups the pressure on the veins down there, boosting your risk of hemorrhoids, but may also lead to anal fissures. These tiny tears in the tissue that lines your butt hole can occur when you force out large and hard, constipated poop. To help keep stool soft for an easier exit, up your fiber intake, drink plenty of fluids, and stay active (regular physical activity increases muscle activity in your intestines). And to perhaps ease the need to strain, try squatting for a few seconds: that position naturally aligns the intestinal tract in a way that may help move things along with less effort.

Concerned about colorectal cancer? Here are 9 risk factors you can control — and 7 you can't.

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iStock/winnond

You don't peek at your poop

Well of course it's gross, but seeing what comes out can hint at what's happening on your insides. Soft, smooth, and sausage-shaped stool is a sign of good gastrointestinal health; soft blobs with clear-cut edges are fine too. But if your deposits are hard and lumpy, you may need to up your fiber and fluid intake. Poop that exits like pee, on the other hand, could be caused by a mild case of food poisoning or food intolerance, an infection or signal more serious conditions, such as Crohn's or celiac disease. Floaters are most often due to poor absorption of nutrients or too much gas in your digestive tract; pencil-thin bowel movements could indicate colon cancer. Keep an eye on the contents of your bowl, and talk to your doctor if you notice bright red or jet-black stool (a sign of bleeding), as well as any big and persistent changes to your bowel movements.

Check out these 9 weird pooping habits, explained by science.

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