11 Surprising Bathroom And Shower Habits Your OB/GYN Wishes You'd Stop Immediately
Even though you've been doing it your whole life, it's still possible there are a few things you're doing wrong in the shower and bathroom that can lead to health issues down the road. Take the simple act of peeing, for example. Did you know that stopping your flow of pee is a bad idea?
And yet it's something many women do — among other seemingly benign habits — without even realizing it might be harmful. Same goes for a few other common mistakes we all make during our periods, or while showering, or shaving. It's easy to get into a routine, and not realize you might be impacting your health.
That's why it never hurts to take a moment and reevaluate and consult your doctor. "Reevaluating your bathroom routines and grooming routines can be important not only for women’s genital health, but overall sexual health and wellness," Dr. Leah Millheiser, an OB/GYN at Standford Medicine, tells Bustle. "The healthier you are and the easier things go, the better your quality of life."
In other words, if you happen to be making a mistake or two, it's easy to adopt a few new habits into your routine, and thus boost your health. Here are a few mistakes OB/GYNs say you may be making in the bathroom.
1. Wiping From Back To Front
The next time you go to the bathroom, remember to wipe from front to back. Not back to front. By dragging toilet paper from the back (near your butt) to the front (near your vagina and urethra) you could be pushing bacteria into your body — and that can lead to infection.
"The main thing that I see is urinary tract infections, which happen after women do not follow proper toileting techniques," board-certified urogynecologist Dr. Michael Ingber tells Bustle. "For example, women should wipe from front to back in order to avoid bacteria from spreading to the urinary tract." This will help keep germs away from and out of your urinary tract, so you'll be less likely to get painful UTIs.
2. Leaving Your Tampon In Too Long
If you're in the habit of sticking your tampon in and forgetting about it for an entire day, it's definitely time to change your ways. "Don’t leave it for more than the recommended number of hours," Millheiser says. "If you’re a person who sleeps 12 hours, don’t sleep with a tampon in. Use a pad. The longer a tampon stays in the vagina the higher the risk is for Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), which is rare but we do still see it. The longer you wear it, the higher the risk for TSS.”
3. Hovering Over The Toilet Seat To Pee
Toilet seats aren't always the most welcoming things to sit upon, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to hover over them while you pee. "[This] can prevent the pelvic floor muscles from relaxing and/or it can over-engage these muscles and the abdominal muscles, which is turn can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD)," pelvic floor specialist Rachel Gelman, DPT, PT tells Bustle. "PFD can be urinary incontinence, pain with urination, urinary hesitancy, pelvic pain, and pain with sex."
That's why Gelman recommends women sit fully on the toilet in order to urinate. So wipe up any pee dribbles you see, or use one of those paper toilet seat covers, and relax.
4. Stopping The Flow Of Pee
Once you start peeing, it may not be the best idea to stop the flow. "Seeing if you can stop the flow of urine is a handy little test to try every few months, especially if you are working with a pelvic floor physical therapist to build strength in the pelvic muscles," women's health and pelvic floor physical therapist Dr. Judith Meer, PT, DPT, CSCS tells Bustle. "But doing this on a regular basis actually confuses the bladder about what you want it to do."
It may sound strange, but clenching down to stop your pee may cause health problems over time. "When you're on the toilet, the brain communicates to the bladder that you want the muscles to relax to let out urine, but when you consciously tighten those muscles, you're telling the body not to listen to the signal you just gave it when you sat down to pee," says Meer. "This can lead to problems later on where you have trouble starting the flow the urine when you're on the toilet."
5. Shaving With An Old, Dull Razor
If you've had the same razor sitting on the edge of your tub for an entire year, it may be time to upgrade. "Do not use an old razor," Dr. Ronald D. Blatt, gynecologist, Chief Surgeon and Medical Director of the Manhattan Center for Vaginal Surgery tells Bustle. "Razor burn is an uncomfortable .... skin condition that can occur after shaving your vaginal area, legs, underarms, or other body parts. Razor burn is pretty common and generally not dangerous however, it can turn into Folliculitis, an inflammation of the hair follicles." This can mean the hair follicles are infected, and can lead to itchiness and soreness in that area.
To help prevent the burn, use a clean razor with sharp blades. Don't share your razor with roommates or your partner. And try not to press down too hard while shaving. "Razor burn is generally caused by too much pressure on the blade," Blatt says. "Only surface hair can be removed by a razor. Putting more pressure to get hair out that are deeper will not work."
6. Over-Cleaning Your Vulva
According to OB/GYNs, you don't want to go overboard with the soaps and scrubs down there. "Many women 'overclean' their vulva/vagina, which can irritate the skin and/or mess with the vaginal flora and vaginal pH," says Gelman. "And that can increase the risk for things like yeast infections."
What you want to do is leave your vagina alone, and let it do its thing. "The vagina is kind of like a self-cleaning oven," she says. "It maintains its overall health and doesn't need excessive cleaning. If someone is concerned about vaginal odor or discharge they should consult their health care provider, instead of trying to heavily wash the area with fragrance-filled soaps."
7. Using Scented Products
Speaking of scented soaps, have you ever been tempted by all the fragrance-laden products (like perfumed tampons) in your local drugstore? If so, try to resist adding them to your feminine hygiene collection.
"Do not use scented toilet paper or scented or perfume-y tampons or pads," Dr. Rebecca Levy-Gantt, a California-based OB/GYN, tells Bustle. "The chemicals that are in scented pads and tampons actually are likely to cause a chemical reaction, an allergy, or a change in the vaginal pH ... This causes itching, odor, and discharge. The vagina does not need anything scented to clean it — it cleans itself."
8. Using Douches
Because the vagina does most of it's cleaning itself, it's best to avoid douches and other sprays, too. "It is unnecessary and could be very hazardous to your internal female organs and can exacerbate a pH imbalance," Dr. Lakeisha Richardson, a Mississippi-based OB/GYN tells Bustle. So you can leave this one out of your routine.
9. Removing All Your Pubic Hair
How much (or how little) pubic hair you like to keep intact is a matter of personal preference. But if you do decide to go completely hair-free, it's important to keep one possible risk in mind. "Completely removing your pubic hair is like shaving or waxing off your eyebrows: the important job they do to keep rain, sweat, sun, and debris out of your eyes may go unnoticed or unappreciated, but that doesn't mean they don't have an important job to do," says Meer.
Your pubic hair, like your eyebrows, helps protect your body by keeping bacteria and debris away from your most sensitive spots. It is completely up to what you're comfortable with, but pubic hair does serve an important purpose.
10. Forgetting To Shower After Sex
If you tend to fall asleep right after having sex, try to pop into the shower first. "Keeping the vagina clean is important to do after having sex," Dr. Sheryl A. Ross, an award-winning OB/GYN and author of She-logy, tells Bustle. "Cleaning the vagina after sex helps avoid future infections that can occur after having sexual contact. Sexual lubricants, bacteria from the fingers, mouth, and rectum can increase your chance of developing a yeast or bacterial infection."
Again, this doesn't mean you want to cover yourself in soaps. But rinsing and wiping away the remnants of lube and other fluids can keep infections at bay.
11. Self-Treating Infections At Home
There are all sorts of remedies available online for treating health issues at home. But many don't come highly-recommended by OB/GYNs — especially when it comes to treating infections.
"Don’t self-treat if you think you have a yeast infection," says Ross. "For one thing, you may not have a yeast infection at all and it could be bacterial or a sexually transmitted infection. Itching, odor and vaginal discharge are common symptoms to these types of common vaginal infections." So if you're experiencing any of these symptoms, consult with your doctor for the best possible treatment.
If you think you might be making a few of these mistakes, it's never too late to develop some new habits. And if you have any questions, it's always a good idea to reach out to your OB/GYN, or other health expert. They can help you figure out the healthiest routine, so you always can feel your best.