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The benefits of using a bidet

By The Health News Team | June 6, 2023

It’s a memory we will be sharing with our grandchildren decades from today: the first time we found barren shelves in the toilet paper aisle of the local grocery store. During the COVID-19 pandemic, toilet paper became a hot commodity as people feared there was a shortage and began to stockpile it. Some stores announced purchase limits and others worried about security issues as shoppers raced for — and occasionally fought over — remaining rolls.

Due to the dwindled toilet paper availability, bidets and bidet toilet seats became more popular in the U.S. than they have ever been. In fact, some American plumbing fixture manufacturers saw an increase of more than 400% in bidet sales during the spring of 2020, when COVID-19 began to spread.

An essential item in many Asian and European restrooms, bidets and bidet seats are plumbing fixtures or toilet enhancements that allow you to wash your genitals, anus and inner buttocks with a stream of water after toileting. Their use allows people to drastically cut the amount of toilet paper used — or forgo its use altogether.

While some studies have found that excessive use of bidets can lead to anal pruritus, or anal itching, and anal incontinence, and the bidet’s nozzle surface can become contaminated with bacteria, possibly leading to infection, users of bidets swear by their effectiveness and ease-of-use. Some doctors even recommend them to their patients, especially those who are older adults or have mobility issues.

“I don’t think bidets are a necessity in every home,” says Dr. Nicole Tremain, an internal medicine doctor with SharpCare Medical Group. “However, I recognize their benefits when it comes to hygiene and accessibility for people who may have difficulty solely using paper products when toileting.”

Here are five reasons bidet enthusiasts think more people should add them to their bathrooms:

  • Bidets are good for the environment. According to toilet paper brand Cottonelle, the average person uses 85 rolls of toilet paper per year. Using a bidet can replace or greatly decrease a person’s use of toilet paper, which is made from tree wood pulp, water, chemicals, fiber and bleach — allowing users to save valuable natural resources.

  • Bidets are more hygienic. Bidets allow for nearly hands-free cleaning of the genitals and anus after toileting or intimacy. Water is used to thoroughly clean skin surfaces and crevices rather than wiping, which can lead to the spread of fecal matter and bacteria.

  • Bidets are gentler on sensitive skin. Aggressive or frequent wiping can lead to skin irritation and small cuts. Additionally, toilet paper use on hemorrhoids can cause further irritation. Water cleans more thoroughly and gently.

  • Bidets are easy to use. Bidets allow older adults and people with mobility issues to easily and effectively clean themselves. This not only helps them improve their hygiene, it also helps them remain independent and maintain privacy when toileting.

  • Bidets are kinder to your wallet and your plumbing. Cottonelle reports the average household flushes about 80,000 sheets of toilet paper per year, which can be taxing for your plumbing, leading to clogged pipes and repair costs. What’s more, experts estimate most Americans spend over $11,000 on toilet paper each year. According to Forbes, the average cost of an installed bidet toilet seat or standalone bidet ranges from $100 to $2000.

“Bidets or bidet attachments can be a nice addition to one’s bathroom, but it is important to remember to always wash your hands after toileting, whether you use toilet paper or a bidet to clean yourself,” Dr. Tremain says. “Women should direct the spray of water from front to back, and all users should pat themselves dry or leave time to air dry after using a bidet if it doesn’t include a drying feature. Finally, follow all manufacturer cleaning and disinfecting guidelines to avoid the risk of infection.”

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