Should Men Sit Down to Pee?

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When Viggo Hansen, a county counselor from the Left Party in Sormland, Sweden, tried passing a law that required that men sit down to pee when using the public bathrooms, his motion caused a flood of reactions. Hansen argued when men sit down to pee it is better for public health because it reduces the splatter around the toilets and stops the spread of disease. Hansen is one of many—including the head of the environmental protection agency in Taiwan, Stephen Shen, who also tried mandating such an order—that believe errant urine is bad for public health. They argue that droplets of urine spread disease. But just how scientifically sound are these arguments? Is it actually better for men to sit down and pee?

“Urine is actually sterile,” says Benjamin Davies, an associate professor of urology at the University of Pittsburgh. “There is no bacteria in it. You can drink urine.” (Though he's not advocating that anyone does take a swig of urine.)

So puddles of urine might smell bad and look gross, but they won’t cause disease. But Hansen has another argument: Hansen claims that men who pee while sitting will fully empty their bladders, which is better for their prostates—and means they'll experience a longer, healthier sex life.

But again, Hansen's claims are totally off the mark. "This is total bullsh**," Davies says. "There is no relationship between voiding and sex life. I haven’t the slightest idea why it would improve your prostate. If you are a normal male your prostate muscles relax while you urinate.”

Bottom line: Completely healthy men experience no benefit by sitting to urinate instead of standing. Some conditions might mean it is easier for a man to fully empty his bladder if he sits down, but for the vast majority there is no difference between sitting and standing. However, some cultures prefer to sit rather than stand—almost half of all Japanese men sit to urinate.

Davies believes that sitting is a cultural or psychological preference, not a health issue. “If you are tired," he says, "go ahead and sit.”