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Sitting On the Toilet Too Long
Spending some extra stall-time scrolling through your Instagram feed is one thing. But if you're actually straining, you could be putting yourself at risk for hemorrhoids — painful, swollen veins in your anus that can bleed, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
"If you're having a hard time having a bowel movement, get up, walk around, and come back," says Anish Sheth, M.D., a gastroenterologist and author of What's Your Poo Telling You?. "Walking around can stimulate the intestines to move things downstream and also help you relax so you don't have to force things out." If you regularly strain when going to the bathroom, take a closer look at your diet. Make sure you're getting enough fiber, about 25 to 30 grams per day, as well as ample water.
Alternatives to wiping
So if there’s no reason to use moist chemical wipes, is there anything better than the traditional two-ply? If you guessed bidets, you’d be right, and you’ve probably used one before. But Chris Lowry, M.D., a physician and the director of MedRevise.co.uk, points out something interesting about long-term usage that I’ve never heard before.
Japanese toilets often contain a water jet and blow dryer that cleans the anus for you. Apparently, some Japanese doctors are now claiming to be seeing cases of “Washlet Syndrome” where cleaning that is too effective leads to problems such as weak sphincter muscles, dry skin and anal sores.
If you’re a DIY-er, you might be wondering what other things you can wipe with. Lowry recalls stories of a man who experimented on himself with such items as dried corncob, rocks, newspaper, leaves, and vinegar on a sponge. Ultimately, he found that while many of these methods do work in an emergency situation, that modern toilet paper is definitely your best bet.
Cleaning *Too Much* Down There
Just because there are products that can make your lady bits smell fresh as a flower doesn't mean you should use them. (See: Stop Telling Me to Buy Things for My Vagina) "The vagina doesn't need to be excessively cleansed and refreshed with soaps, washes, sprays, and wipes, which can actually disrupt the normal pH balance and lead to itching, irritation, and rash," explains Dr. Dweck. Simply wash with mild soap and water when showering or bathing.
One tool that can help? A hair dryer to wick away excess moisture. "Use it on a low, cool setting after bathing if you're prone to infection or irritation," she adds. (See also: 10 Things to Never Put In Your Vagina)