The Wonders of a Bidet

Until this week, I had never used a bidet. I wasn’t even really quite sure exactly what one was or how to use it prior to this week. All I knew is they some how sprayed your genitals off, and French people used them in the place of toilet paper. This week, I took an overnight trip and found out before I left that the place where I was staying had a bidet.  I decided to do a little research to make sure I didn’t make a fool out of myself or cause injury when I tried to use it. I was kind of excited because I’m always looking for better, more efficient ways of cleaning down there. Through research I discovered not everyone uses them in the place of toilet paper. Many people use them in addition to toilet paper. Some people use the bathroom, use the bidet, then use toilet paper and also use it for daily cleaning of the genitals. Some people use the bathroom, use toilet paper, and then use the bidet, and also use it for daily cleaning, and others just use it for daily cleaning of the genitals and use toilet paper regularly. It sounds confusing, but once you’ve used one, you’ll understand.

There are several different styles/types of bidets. Some bidets are free standing. To someone who isn’t familiar with a bidet, they may mistaken it for a toilet or urinal (I most certainly did when I first saw a picture). Most people straddle the free standing bidet facing the water controls. Usually there is a hot and cold water control and also a knob/control that adjusts the pressure of the water spout. Depending on the bidet, there may be a spout that shoots water up or there may be a spout like a there is on a sink.

The bidet I used was free standing with a spout that shoots the water up. I straddled the bidet, making sure my genital area was on top of the spout, so I wouldn’t get shot in the face with water. Then I turned on the water and adjusted the water to a comfortable temperature. Once I was satisfied with the temperature, I very slowly turned the knob to adjusts the pressure of the water spout until I felt the water spraying me down there. Once I felt like my vagina was clean, I slid up slightly to clean my rear. It was great! Much easier than trying to clean in the shower. Even with my detachable shower head, I usually still have to prop my leg up on something, which can be tricky to do. Once I was done, I blow dried her off (as I usually do after rinsing down there). I felt so clean. I read about some bidets that actually have a blow drying mechanism build into them! That would be great to have one of those.

Bidets can help prevent Urinary Tract Infections and Yeast Infections by more effectively cleaning the genital area. (Many sites discussing bidets, list this as one of the benefits of a bidet.) Being clean down there, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, can help keep bacteria away from the vagina. With the bidet, it’s so much easier to clean up before and after sex, and it’s also great if you don’t shower every single day. I know that sounds dirty, but lets face it, there are some days when we’re sick or just lazy and don’t feel like taking a shower. I always rinse off down there after sex, but I rarely do it before. I think if I had a bidet in my own home I would do it before as well, and my husband would probably use it too. Rinsing off before helps get rid of bacteria the penis may push into the vagina. Right now, it’s just too much work to get in the shower before sex, take the shower head down, squat/prop leg up, and then get out and dry half your body off because your legs and feet are wet too. A bidet would make things simpler, and I would use less water!

Unfortunately, there is absolutely no room in my bathroom for a free standing bidet. There are however some that can be attached to the toilet seat. I’m planning on doing a little more research and may possibly get one of those. I’ll let you know how that turns out, if I decide to get one.

Cleaning “Down There”

This is one of those things most women are never taught to do. They just clean it like they would any other part of their body by scrubbing it with soap. If you’re not exactly sure how to clean down there, chances are, you’re too embarrassed to ask. For the longest time I scrubbed my vagina with soap and water. I thought if I didn’t do this, then it would stink down there. Gynecologists usually don’t bring up the “how to clean down there” unless you are having chronic yeast infections or unless you ask. We all know we’re not supposed to douche, but we don’t all know that it’s probably not the best idea to go scrubbing away with antibacterial soap in the most sensitive area of our body.

Through much research and discussions with various gynecologists and of course through my own trial and error, I discovered the vagina is really a self cleaning organ. You don’t need regular soap or special “feminine” soap to keep it clean. The best way to keep the vagina clean is to rinse the entrance to the vagina with water and also spread the vulva lips at the top of the vagina and rinse off any bacteria that may be harboring in there . I have a shower head that can be detached, so I just spray her off every time I take a shower on a low spray setting. I also rinse my anus and the space between the vagina and anus. This should be done daily. If you have sex, you should also rinse the vagina off after sex. Some gynecologists recommend rinsing off before sex, but not everyone makes time for that. It’s more important to rinse after sex as apposed to before, if you don’t have time for both.

In the past I have used summers eve. Some people can use a mild feminine soap like this one without any problems. If you are prone to infections, it is best to use just water because that’s really all you need. Perfumed soaps can cause the PH in your vagina to become unbalanced and make you more prone to  infections.

Yeast Infections Vs. Urinary Tract Infections

Yeast infections and UTIs are two very different infections. They feel different and they’re treated differently when you visit a doctor with these problems. Signs of a yeast infection include an itching and or burning sensation around the vulva, anus or inside the vagina….it can pretty much itch anywhere down there when too much yeast is present. Signs also include pain during sex, a yeasty odor, cottage cheese like discharge, and pain when you pee. I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat on the toilet examining the discharge in my underwear trying to decide if it looks like cottage cheese….sometimes its difficult to tell especially if it is close to that time of the month. You can have a yeast infection and have some, all, or none of these symptoms. I recall one time when I was in my teens, I visited the gyno for my yearly and she informed me that I had a yeast infection. I had no idea. I felt fine.

Urinary Tract Infections feel quite differently. The pain when you pee when you have a yeast infections feels more like a burning sensation when the urine hits the inside walls of the vagina. The pain when you pee with a UTI is VERY different. With a UTI it feels like needles are being stuck in your bladder. During the early stages of a UTI, the sharp pains happen at the end of the pee. Symptoms can also include fever, dizziness, nausea, and feeling like you always have to pee even when you don’t. If a Yeast Infection is left untreated, it may clear up on its own and you can also treat it with over the counter medications. With a UTI, you must go to the doctor to get antibiotics. If left untreated, a UTI can spread from your bladder to your kidneys and can even cause death. If I had to choose between the two, I think I would rather have a yeast infection as apposed to a UTI….not that I would want to choose between either.

They sound like very different infections, however, there are many similarities when it comes to preventing Yeast Infections and UTIs. UTIs are typically caused by the bacteria e-coli (not the e-coli in food). When e-coli enters the urethra, it can make its way to the bladder and give you a UTI. People used to call a UTI the honeymooners disease. The reason for this is because sex can sometimes help the e-coli enter the urethra by pushing it closer to its opening. Yeast Infections are usually cause by an overgrowth of yeast (candida). Everyone has a small amount of yeast present in their body, which can be healthy. When conditions become unstable in the vagina, that’s when yeast can multiply like rabbits.

I’m just going to touch on a few of the basics for preventing both UTIs and Yeast Infections. These basics are the common suggestions doctors usually give. Often times they do not explain the reasoning behind their suggestions. Always wipe front to back. Women are really at a disatvantage because there is only a small space between the anus and vagina and the bacteria from the anus can cause these infections. Another basic in preventing these infections is to drink plenty of water. Water helps flush out the vagina and urinary tract. Wearing clothing that allows you to breath down there, changing out of a wet bathing suit quickly, consuming a diet low in sugar/carbs, and peeing after sex can also help prevent Yeast Infections and UTIs. The more you can let the area down there breath, the better because bacteria flourishes in warm moist environments. As for the diet low in sugar/carbs, doctors usually don’t tell you that sugar and refined carbs (which turn to sugar) irritate the urinary tract and also feed yeast. This little paragraph is just a glimpse into the steps I followed to rid myself of chronic yeast infections/UTIs. Much more is to come at a later post!

#1 for Preventing UTI and Yeast Infections

I first considered going in detail about all the little remedies for preventing these chronic infections, but then I decided it might be best to start with the most important thing first–DIET. Doctors don’t emphasize this enough and sometimes not even at all. They may drop the hint that lowering your sugar intake might help, but most people don’t really know what that means. If you suffer from these recurring infections, it is not enough to just cut out the “sweets”, such as cookies, cakes, ice cream, etc. The average person consumes about 50 teaspoons of sugar a day. You might be thinking, “well I know that’s not me”. There is a pretty good chance you are consuming that much sugar because nearly everything has sugar in it these days. Even things like lunch meat and yogurt can often have added sugar.

Changing my diet was the best thing I ever did. I was definitely one of those people who consumed 50 teaspoons of sugar a day. I’m sure I exceeded that limit on many days. I was addicted to sugar and carbohydrates. I always had candy in my purse. Sometimes I would make a meal out of poptarts or sugary cereal. Sometimes I’d even make a meal out of a candy bar. When I did try to eat healthy, I followed a low calorie, low fat diet, which consequently was also high in carbs. I also LOVED watermelon. During the summer I would eat a whole watermelon every two days. I felt like that was healthy because watermelon doesn’t have a lot of calories, it was fruit, and it had lots of water in it.

Once I began doing my research for a diet that would help prevent UTIs and yeast infections, I found out quickly that I had being doing everything wrong as far as my diet was concerned. Sugar and carbs feed yeast, and sugar irritates the urinary tract. There are quite a few different diets I found online, but they all seemed to have one thing in common–relatively low in carbs and low in sugar. I chose the Atkins diet route because I wanted to lower my carbs and sugar intake as much as possible in order to starve the yeast and keep my urinary tract happy. Plus, Atkins has a book to follow, tons of recipes, and tons of forums and such for support. It is much easier to do a diet when you have so many resources.

I starting out doing what I thought was Atkins without buying the book. I just followed the basics rules I had read online. I cut out anything white and carby (bread, rice, chips, crackers, popcorn, anything with flour). I also cut out sugar in ANY form. No sweets, no fruit high in sugar. I also cut out caffeine. I later bought the book. The book even has a section on yeast infections and how the Atkins diet can help prevent them. I noticed a big difference within the first two weeks of following the diet. I had no yeast symptoms and my urinary tract felt healthy. I also felt more energized and overall just healthier. It has been almost a year since I went low carb/low sugar, and I haven’t had a single yeast infection or urinary tract infection. Click on the “Diet” section of the site for more details on the diet I follow.