Bidet vs. toilet paper vs. wet wipes

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There could be many reasons why women suffer from recurrent urinary tract infections, and therefore many ways how to prevent UTIs. I will address one of the reasons and provide you with a solution. Hint: it’s about your hygiene routine after you go #2. A bit of a TMI topic today! Most likely, the cause of your UTIs is your own E. coli bacteria. For most women, sex is the main trigger (learn more about how sex causes UTIs). And for most of us, hygiene is very important to prevent UTI. Choosing wipes to prevent UTI? Check out this post about feminine wipes.

Why is wiping with dry TP not enough

First, I’m sure you are wiping “front to back.” This is just hygiene 101. However, I have news for you: this is not enough. Have you ever seen an anus? Yours, your partner’s, or even your dog’s? If you do not want to look, let me enlighten you. The primary function of the anus is to provide an exit route for your feces. You poop through it. However, while you are not pooping, circular muscles around the anus help to keep it shut in a tight pout-like shape. Unfortunately, your anus is “pouting” when you are wiping your ass.

You are walking around with a dirty anus.

To explain why this is an issue, here is a visual for you. I will use my lips as an example 🙂
  • First, I relax my lips and put lipstick on.
  • Then, I’m pouting (muscles tighten). This is kind of how your anus looks once you are done pooping.
  • Third, I try to remove the lipstick with toilet paper.
  • Fourth, I’m using a clean piece of paper to show you how much is left in the creases of the skin! No brainer, it is hard to remove the lipstick when it is hidden in between wrinkles created by the contracted muscles.
Why bidet is important for UTI prevention among women  

Water to the rescue

What’s better? Washing your anus with water. No, it doesn’t mean you must jump into a shower every time you go #2. You can use a simple plastic pitcher, install a real bidet in your bathroom or get your toilet upgraded with a bidet system. It is not a novel idea. Before toilet paper was invented, washing your ass was a popular way to clean yourself. A bidet is mentioned in Italian literature as early as 1710. Bidets are a popular option to get yourself clean in many countries around the world, and in several countries (such as Spain and Portugal), their installation has been mandatory since 1975.

Do not overclean!

Before we discuss how often to wash your genitals and perianal area, let’s talk about overcleaning. Your vagina plays a key role in preventing UTIs. It is the main reservoir for Lactobacillus bacteria that support a healthy acidic pH not only inside of the vagina but everywhere on your perineal skin. The Lactobacillus bacteria are even present in your bladder! Since healthy perineal and vaginal skin microbiomes are paramount for preventing urinary tract infections, do not use regular soap when using a bidet. It’s better not to use any soap than to use soap that wasn’t designed with your genitals in mind. By constantly washing away your important protective microbiome, you are exposing yourself to an overgrowth of E. coli bacteria. If you are interested in supercharging your cleaning routine, check out prebiotic zerotaboos wash here. Some studies found that bidet users have compromised vaginal flora. It’s unclear, though, what kind of soap (if any) was used by the participants and which direction the bidet stream faced (there is a difference between a traditional bidet and bidet attachments).

Bidet vs. toilet paper vs. wet wipes

Toilet paper is rough in abrasive, which could lead to micro-tears on your skin. Toilet paper could also be not so nice to your vulva. At first sight, wet wipes seem better since they provide added moisture. However, wet wipes are polyester, which could lead to chaffing because it exfoliates the gentle perineal skin. Water is by far the most gentle way to clean. When choosing your ideal bidet, pay attention to temperature, direction, and pressure. Temperature: Believe it or not, cold or room temp is the best for your anus. Cold water contracts blood vessels and helps prevent hemorrhoids. Direction: When using a bidet after pooping, focus on your anus!  The goal is to reduce the number of bacteria sitting around your butt. You do not need to wash the rest of your perineal region (the vulva and the urethra) every time. Focus on the anus rather than spraying water everywhere. Avoid a bidet that sends an upward jet stream. Look for options that would allow you to direct the water downward. Pressure: You do not need much pressure; it’s not a power wash. Also, you want to control where the water goes, and it’s easier when you are not dealing with fire-hydrant-like pressure.

Wash after sex

Your genitals need a rinse after sex regardless of whether you prevent UTI or just want to stay clean. Wash your vulva, do not wash inside of your vagina, though. Use either a special soap or plain water.

On the go

Personally, I either use water or WipeGel at home. And carry a small bottle of WipeGel when on trips. Wipegel has an acidifying pH of 4.3 and prebiotics to support your healthy perineal flora! Wet wipes could be a solution but do not use them every time. In general, excessive wiping causes many issues for the gentle perineal skin. There are also portable bidets! It’s just a small cup with a spout. You can use something like that at home without buying any fancy attachments.

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