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
Rethinking and revamping how you wipe is probably low on your list of priorities, but it can be quite important, especially for those of us who are the proud owners of a vulva and an anus. Most of us know not to wipe “butt first,” because well, think about it. As Healthline explained, this increases the chances you'll contaminate your vulva with fecal bacteria, so you should be doing the ol’ reach around (wiping by reaching behind and through your legs).
2. Washing back to front
The same principle of wiping applies when you’re getting squeaky clean in the shower. Just as you don’t want to push fecal matter towards your front during wiping (especially if you have a vulva), you don’t want to transfer butt bacteria to your sensitive front parts while washing. Always wash “front to back,” so to speak, and don’t use a dirty washcloth on your vulva.
3. Trying to eliminate all vaginal odor
Do you want your vagina and vulva to smell like a sweet spring breeze, like a meadow full of peonies or the perfume of a delicate fairy? Many women were taught that any kind of “odor” is unhygienic, but in fact going too far to eliminate the natural odor of the vagina can be unhealthy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) are big fans of the vagina’s natural ability to clean itself. Discharge (which some may mistakenly think is a sign of poor health or cleanliness) actually “keeps the genital area clean and healthy by removing dead cells from the lining of the vagina," as the ACOG explained on its site. The vagina is also full of friendly, helpful bacteria that keeps things slightly acidic, which in turn kills off harmful microorganisms. So trying to eliminate your vagina’s natural odor with harsh soaps and cleansers can irritate the vulva, and disrupt the natural flora of your vagina. If you suspect your vagina’s odor is unusually strong, that may be a sign of an infection, which should be treated rather than “washed” away.
4. Sitting on the toilet too long
Hi America, can I take a moment to talk to you about your butts? According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, one in 20 people have hemorrhoids in the U.S. Hemorrhoids are clusters of swollen veins, either inside your lower rectum or outside near the anal opening.
Sometimes they’re difficult to avoid, such as those incurred by pregnancy or aging. But you can make some lifestyle changes to help alleviate symptoms: do you while away the hours on the toilet, catching up on Facebook as you strain your muscles? That’s a one-way ticket to HemorrhoidVille. Live Science suggests limiting your time on the porcelain throne to only 10 minutes per pooping session.
5. Wiping too hard
For a country where so many people have hemorrhoids, the U.S sure does shy away from bidets, which are considered a peculiar luxury. You can, of course, get your own bidet for more hygenic and gentler wiping, but it’s going to be a while before they become en vogue.
In the meantime, try not to wipe too hard: Wiping can exacerbate hemorrhoids, and according to the University of Texas at Austin, overzealous wiping can cause them to start bleeding. This may be the first time anyone’s said this, but you should treat your anus with gentle respect, if you want it to stay healthy.