There’s been quite a bit of talk about bidets lately —in a good way. They’re are said to have originated in France in the 18th century and are common in Asia and Europe. The bidet looks just like any toilet except it sprays water to clean yourself down there after you’re done doing your business. Bidet enthusiasts argue that it is more hygienic and friendly to the environment than standard toilet paper. Bidets are now becoming popular in the U.S.
Kohler is an American fixtures company and is the largest producer of bidet seats in the U.S. According to the brand, their sales are increasing as people are looking to be more friendly to the environment. They can cost anywhere from $600 to more than $4,000.
Toilet paper is a 9.6 billion dollar industry and just two percent of toilet paper that is purchased every year is made from an environmentally-friendly process. It’s a critical issue since that is the equivalent of 27,000 trees a day being flushed down the toilet.
Does this mean you should give up toilet paper altogether? “Cleaner is always better, but a bidet can’t be a substitute for toilet paper,” says David Kaufman, M.D., a urologist in New York City. He explains that only a bidet wash is not enough to do the toilet paper’s real dirty work and that you shouldn’t completely trade in your toilet paper.
Bidets can be beneficial for your genitals by helping to reduce the spread of bacteria, keep you fresh around the time of sex, and cut down on irritation that can be caused by wiping too much. Experts promote the use of a bidet in any situation where it’s tough to clean yourself correctly or when you need to be concerned about extra bacteria, such as after you have sex.
Bidets can be particularly helpful if you are prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs): “UTIs are most commonly caused by vaginal bacteria,” says Kaufman. He says women can benefit from washing with a bidet before and especially after sex. Since most bathrooms in the U.S. don’t have bidets still, the next best thing is to get in the shower and use a handheld showerhead, according to Kaufman. If you don’t have a handheld showerhead, use your hands or a washcloth. A loofah is not a good option, though, because it can cause small tears that may cause infection exposure.