I traded yoga for a bidet.
Let me explain: My boyfriend is a bidet proselytizer. Since traveling abroad he has come to love bidets in a way I cannot begin to understand. After moving in together, the topic of installing a bidet attachment would regularly come up, and I was always quick to dismiss it. But when he finally agreed to go to yoga with me every week, I realized something had to give on my end, too. This is how I ended up browsing bidets on an otherwise perfectly pleasant weekend afternoon.
I fully admit to being an American who is embarrassed by talk of poop and the idea of a bidet. A bidet's intention is perfectly clear. It screams "I POOP!" While I understand that everybody poops, and it's probably time to get over my embarrassment, I still don't really feel like having a device that noisily announces the deed to the rest of the house. (Ever wonder what the texture of your poop means? Well, we found out for you.)
I also have an outsized fear of being splashed with cold water. I can't stand to be cold—it takes me a full 10-15 minutes to get into the pool after I've slowly dipped a toe in. Just the idea of having cold water squirted at my bare butt makes me squirm and pull my sweatshirt a little tighter.
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Why A Bidet?
So why on earth did I take apart my perfectly good toilet to add a bidet attachment? The yoga-tradeoff helped. And I also can't shake the wastefulness of toilet paper. Americans use 7.5 billion rolls of paper each year, about 23.6 rolls per person. That adds up to more than 20,000 trees flushed every day. (Worried about the environment? Here are 70 super-simple ways to be a little bit greener.)
Despite costing upwards of a dollar a roll, I buy 100% recycled, unbleached toilet paper to try to reduce the impact of our unavoidable bathroom habits. But I hate that my money goes straight down the toilet, and the environmentally friendly toilet paper also comes with unavoidable roughness, which can easily irritate sensitive skin.
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Wet-wipes, America's twisted take on a bidet, are even worse. Their plastic and wood fibers do not break down like toilet paper when flushed, which means they can create plumbing nightmares. New York City alone spent $18 million over 5 years to fix sewer system damage caused by wipes. At best these wipes fill up our landfills, and at worst they can be found on our beaches.
Bidets save water, too. Tushy estimates that their bidet attachments will save 54 gallons of water per week by reducing the use of toilet paper. It takes around 37 gallons of water to make a single roll of toilet paper. Depending on how many people use your bathroom, a bidet can really cut down your toilet paper use.
As a clean freak, I also wouldn't mind a more thorough tidy if you know what I mean. While there aren't any scientific studies about the cleanliness of a bidet versus toilet paper, washing with water certainly seems to make it easier to remove surface dirt, or excrement in this case. It may be soothing to rinse with water, but there's no proven health or hygiene benefit to using a bidet, says Craig Comiter, MD, a urologist with Stanford Health Care. There also aren't any rigorous studies that show that a bidet prevents or increases urinary tract infections. "Rinsing with water may simply be less irritating and less caustic than using paper wipes, especially if one is overly forceful with the toilet paper," says Comiter.
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When the bidet arrived my boyfriend looked like he just won the Super Bowl. I was less enthused. Just the writing on the box that our new Tushy bidet attachment came in made me blush. It proclaimed itself to be my "new butt buddy" and promised to rid me of "booty blues," "skidmarks," and "dingleberries." I had some serious reservations (my boyfriend, on the other hand, giggled at the box.)
But after setting it up myself, I started to feel a bit attached to the bidet. I mean, it was proof of my capabilities. Clearly if I can install it, I can tolerate a little cold water.
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The first time I sat down to try the bidet I was actually nervous. I had already shot the water at my hand for a general idea of what to expect, but it didn't make me feel any better about it. It took me a better part of five minutes with my fingers wrapped around the knob before I finally let it loose. The first time the water hit me I unconsciously kicked my legs like I was trying to swim away. Needless to say, it wasn't a long blast.
It took me a couple more times before I could reliably turn the knob without hesitation. After less than a week I was used to the sensation, and I stopped inadvertently grimacing when the water hit. (Here are 9 things butt doctors want you to know about your rear.)
Things do feel fresher, and I haven't had a sore bum from excessive toilet paper use. I'm still not a huge fan of the cold water or the announcement that I've just pooped—in our small space you can very clearly hear the water from the bidet hitting the bowl regardless of what room you are in.
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I fully believe the short blast of cool water is well worth the reduced environmental impact. We cut our toilet paper use by almost 20% in two weeks, and I think that will increase as I get better at aiming. And come summer, the water won't be nearly as shocking either.
I still haven't started telling everyone I meet about the wonders of a bidet. But I am willing to admit my boyfriend was right: A bidet does make pooping more pleasant, and also feels more hygienic.
The article I Tried A Bidet To See If They Really Do Give Your Butt A Squeaky Clean Rinse, And Here’s What Happened originally appeared on Prevention.