It might be an uncomfortable topic to talk about, but gastroenterologists want us to know that bad toilet hygiene can be bad for our health. There’s a right way and wrong way to wipe your butt, the experts say. Learning how to properly clean your body after a bowel movement can help avoid various health conditions caused by faulty wiping habits.
7. The Healthiest Way to Wipe Your Butt
If you wipe from back to front, you’re doing it wrong. The right way is from front to back. One important reason is because there’s less risk of spreading bacteria from a bowel movement (BM) to the urethra, where urine from the bladder leaves the body. Keeping BM bacteria away from the urethra can help prevent urinary tract infections.
According to UCSF Health, E. coli bacteria in the stool is normal but becomes a threat if spread. “An untreated UTI can move up to the kidneys and cause an even more serious infection, so prompt diagnosis and treatment is important.”
6. Women Are Especially Vulnerable
UCSF Health warns that it’s easier for a woman to get UTI infections from bowel movements than it is for men. “In women, the trip from the anus to the urethra is a short one. This is the reason why ‘wiping front to back’ after using the toilet is helpful in preventing UTI.” They also warn that increased risk for UTIs is common with women who are pregnant, active women and older women.
Another reason women need to practice proper anus hygiene is to prevent the spread of BM bacteria to the vagina. As a woman, wiping your butt from front to back helps keep the vaginal opening and canal healthier. Stool bacteria spreading into the vagina can cause vaginal infection (vaginosis) and vaginal inflammation (vaginitis).
Pregnant women with a UTI that leads to kidney infection could also experience preterm labor, states WebMD. That’s even more incentive for pregnant women to wipe their butt from front to back, in spite of how challenging it may be during late pregnancy.