Health

Woman in bathroom using toilet.
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You Might Actually Be Doing These Things In The Bathroom Incorrectly

Things can get a little gross sometimes.

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Bathroom time is a sacred and critical routine, full of pampering, peeing, and other assorted activities that we often like to shroud in mystery and innuendo. However, it’s important for your health to actually reassess your bathroom habits frankly. Because, believe it or not, there are at least 5 gross things you're probably doing wrong in the bathroom. Whether it's how you how you shower, wash, or use the toilet, there are all sorts of bad bathroom habits you can get into, even well into adulthood, due to the stigma associated with talking about toilet time.

There is some stigma to addressing bathroom time activities, especially when it concerns the health of your lower region... oh heck, come on, let's say it out loud: your bowels, anus, and genitals. We all have these anatomical features, so there's not much point in being shy about it. And it's important to take care of your whole body, which sometimes means giving a little TLC to your butt. First of all, a bit of appreciation: your bowels are an extremely complex system. You even have a nervous system within your gut; a "second brain," according to Scientific American. And your anus is one of the first things to start developing inside the womb, a design feature that makes life on earth possible. With those words to give you some inspiration, here's how to best take care of some under-appreciated body parts.

1

Wiping back to front

Worrying about how you wipe your nether regions is probably pretty low on your list of poop time priorities, but it’s actually the first thing you should focus on when you find yourself in the loo. Although you may already know that you shouldn’t wipe back to front, it’s an important reminder. Why? Well, your butt (and in particular, your poo) has a whole host of nasties that you just don’t want to introduce into your vagina, Dr. Kim Langdon, MD, an OB/GYN, tells Romper. “Wiping the wrong way is bad because you can pull bacteria from the bowel which can increase your risk of urinary tract infections and possibly bacterial vaginosis,” she says. So even though it might be faster and easier to give a good back-to-front swipe, take the time to do the ol’ reach around and wipe your butt from behind.

2

Washing back to front

A woman taking a shower in a bathroomShutterstock

Sure, you might think that your butt is squeaky clean after a shower, but you still shouldn’t take the risk of washing your tush first, and then using the same washcloth or hand to bring it forward and clean your vag. “Your bowel movements have tons of bacteria, so you definitely don’t want to expose your vagina to that unnecessarily,” Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, MD, an OB/GYN, tells Romper in a phone interview. Again, when it comes to bathroom matters, front to back is the best way to keep your coochie clean — and safe.

3

Trying to eliminate all vaginal odor

Of all the things you are doing wrong in the bathroom, eliminating vaginal odor isn’t exactly gross — but it can cause problems with your lady parts down the road. Because let’s be honest here: your vagina is going to have an odor, a PubMed study found. But spritzing your vulva with perfumes or douching just might make matters worse, according to Dr. Minkin. “If you douche, you’ll wipe away good guy and bad guy flora,” she says. “The good guys make acid, and that acid is what keeps the bad flora away.” Trying to neutralize the pH in your vagina with lotions and potions is what can cause potential toxicity, since the skin in your genital area can be among the most sensitive in your body, another study found. And what you’ll wind up with is a vagina that smells like a rose, but burns and itches like a mother. As Dr. Minkin so aptly put it: “You don’t want a Switzerland vagina; you want one with good pH.”

4

Sitting on the toilet too long

Listen, what you do on the loo is your business, but you don’t really want to be in the bathroom for hours while making a bowel movement. For one thing, who wants to sit in their own stink? But beyond the wafting scent of your BM, taking too long on the toilet can be a total pain in the ass — literally. “Sitting too long on the toilet is thought to potentially increase the risk of hemorrhoids,” says Dr. Langdon. Dr. Minkin agrees, adding, “You don’t want to exert too much pressure and exacerbate hemorrhoids, because the more you push, the more it’s going to aggravate them.” So take the time you need to poop, (which should just be a few minutes at most), and if you’re finding that it’s taking longer, it might be time to bulk up on some fiber, or other ways to soften your stool.

5

Wiping too hard

Getting your girly bits nice and clean should be the goal of any post-pooping sesh, but a particularly vigorous rubdown might not be in the best interest of your vag or butt. “Wiping too hard can irritate your tissue and might even dry out your vagina,” says Dr. Minkin. And the last thing you want is a desert-like region down there. “You need to have moisture in your vagina,” she says. “Otherwise, you’ll be uncomfortable and potentially get an abrasion in the tissue.”

6

Using dirty towels

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In an effort to cut down on that mountain of laundry it feels like you’re battling each and every day, you might let some items go a little longer without washing — like towels. Thing is, drying yourself off with a dirty towel isn’t going to make your private parts too happy. “Using old towels to dry off can be a problem when it comes to genitals and feet,” says Dr. Langdon. “It’s best to use a separate, dry washcloth for the front side, the back side and feet.”

Yes, your time alone in the bathroom is probably precious (and unfortunately fleeting at best). Make sure that you cut down on the gross things you’re doing wrong in the bathroom so that your girly bits stay healthy and happy.

Studies cited:

Gynakol, A. “The odors of the human vagina” 1975.

Farage, M. “Sensitive Skin in the Genital Area” 2019.

Experts:

Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, MD, an OB/GYN

Dr. Kim Langdon, MD, an OB/GYN