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Top tips for urinary tract health—and how bidets can help.

Posted by Brian Inami on Mar 22nd 2013

When it comes to making changes for better health, there’s no shortage of advice or information. We know that prioritizing healthy foods, hydration, and adequate sleep can go a long way in making us look and feel our best. But whole-body health is a sum of many individual parts—some of which are easier to discuss than others. We’re delving into the urinary tract, a topic that’s a bit delicate, both literally and figuratively. We’ll talk about this essential body system and how to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), answering questions like “Can toilet paper cause urinary tract infections?” and “Can bidets cause UTIs?” We’ll also share easy tips and best practices for better personal hygiene—so that you can experience the benefits of better urinary tract health.

A back-to-basics breakdown of the urinary system.

Ready to head back to middle school science class? The urinary system is responsible for removing waste from your body, and includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. The kidneys filter blood, removing waste and combining it with water to create urine, which is carried through the ureters and stored in the bladder. Urine is later expelled through the urethra when you pee. It’s important to note that, like many systems in the body, men and women do not have identical urinary tracts. Women have a shorter urethra, and can be subject to higher instances of infection as a result. Good hygiene is key to keeping this system functioning at its finest.

Peeing: it’s a good thing.

Staying well hydrated is essential for good urinary tract health. Fluids help flush out bacteria that can be introduced into the urinary tract after using the bathroom or having sex. We’ve all heard that we should be aiming for 8-10 cups of water per day, but healthy foods like watermelon and cucumbers have a high water content that can increase your water intake (with no chugging required). Urine color can be a good indicator of hydration levels. Shoot for clear to pale yellow pee—but note that certain medications and foods can have an effect on your urine’s hue. On the same topic, it’s good to urinate when you feel the urge. There are no gold medals for holding it in, so go often and empty your bladder completely.

Better below-the-belt hygiene… can bidets cause UTIs?

Many people wonder about bidets and UTIs and whether bidets work for or against better personal hygiene health. Using a bidet to prevent UTI is a smart move, because it eliminates the need for hands and toilet paper, both of which can inadvertently introduce and spread bacteria to the urinary tract. This is especially true for women (who you may recall have a shorter urinary tract than men). Bacteria left behind from unwashed hands or incorrect wiping practices can travel into the opening of the urethra and start an infection, which can spread to the bladder and kidneys.

If you’re wiping, do so in a front to back direction, and use fresh toilet paper if you need to wipe again. Switching to a bidet can give you a more complete, hands-free clean, with soothing water taking the place of dry, irritating toilet paper to gently wash bacteria and fecal matter away.

You might wonder, “Can using a bidet cause infection?” It’s a good question—and one with a very straightforward answer. According to Stanford University, while soaps and detergents can increase the likelihood of developing a UTI, washing with plain water does not increase UTI risk. It is important, however, to invest in a high-quality bidet to ensure that your wash remains hygienic from start to finish. Brondell bidets feature retractable, self-cleaning nozzles, so that you never have to worry about bacterial contamination.

Steer clear of irritating foods.

Carbonated water, alcohol, spicy foods, and acidic foods (like citrus and tomato-based products) are the top offenders when it comes to urinary tract irritation. If you’re experiencing ongoing bladder pain or urinary discomfort, it may be worth talking to your doctor about an elimination protocol to see if a certain food or drink is to blame.

Don’t buy into “down there” personal care.

When it comes to your urinary system, less is definitely more. If you’re prone to UTIs or other below-the-belt infections, steer clear of products designed for personal odor prevention or hygiene enhancement. Douches, rinses, deodorant sprays, and cleaning wipes can all do more harm than good. The same can be said for bath bombs, lotions, scented toilet paper, and shaving creams. Pure water is all you need to get cleaner down below—which is why bidets make so much sense when it comes to personal cleansing. Warm and cool water can both offer a soothing wash, and may even help offer relief from uncomfortable UTI symptoms.

Better health for every body.

From staying hydrated to cleaning up after your “gotta go,” urinary health is an important piece of the all-around health puzzle. Fortunately, simple tweaks to your daily routine can have a big impact when it comes to preventing UTIs and irritation. Discuss any concerns or changes regarding your urinary health patterns with your doctor. Though it may feel like a sensitive topic, “down-there” self care is just as essential as self care for the rest of you—and you always deserve to feel your very best.