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Why you’re wiping yourself all wrong

Jen Glantz is a 20-something crawling the streets of NYC. You can find her in a tutu and converse, surrounded by overdue library books, pizza crust and the spontaneous combustion of laughter that often shoots the chocolate milk right out...

Doctors explain how you’re damaging your private parts when you go to the bathroom

What we experience when we go to the bathroom can often be such a taboo topic that it’s rarely discussed over weekend brunches or group text messages, even with our closest friends.

For one thing, some of us may be wiping ourselves wrong when we go to the bathroom. If you didn’t ever think there could be a wrong way to wipe, well, it turns out there is, and it could actually be damaging. So avoid another trip to the gynecologist or a scary Google search on some of the post-wiping side effects you may be feeling and take note of what these doctors say you should and shouldn’t be doing down below.

More: When are kids too old for moms to wipe their bottoms?

Don’t wipe back to front

It may not even be something you think about after you’ve done your business and before you pull up your underwear, but there is a right way to wipe yourself and a wrong way to wipe yourself. How do you know if you’re doing it right, and does it even matter? Dr. Justin Sloane, a resident physician at Abington Hospital in Pennsylvania, will tell you that it does matter — and he has a pretty good reason.

“Wipe front to back not back to front," he advises. "Wiping back to front brings bacteria from the anus closer to the urethra (hole you urinate from) which can lead to urinary tract infections.”

If you’ve ever had a UTI before, you’ll do whatever you can to make sure you don’t go through the discomfort of having another one again, including stocking up on cranberry juice and wiping correctly from now on.

More: If you know what's good for you, you'll sit in the correct pooping posture

Don’t wipe aggressively

The art of wiping your private parts can be a mindless action since it is something you do multiple times a day. One of the things you could be doing wrong is how rough and tough you get with the actual motion.

Dr. Michael Ingber, director of the Center for Specialized Women's Health in Denville, New Jersey, stresses that it’s best to not wipe too aggressively.

“Sometimes women can get micro-abrasions, which allow bacteria to grow and can cause inflammation and irritation at the urethral opening," he says. "Sometimes a ‘dab will do’!”

Ditch the feminine wipes

Although they may seem like they help you get cleaner, the last thing you can do to protect your lower half when using the bathroom is ditch any kind of feminine wipes or baby wipes.

More: 8 things you should probably know about your vagina

According to Ingber, “Avoid any kind of feminine wipes or baby wipes which contain alcohol or glycerin. These can be irritating to mucosal surfaces such as the vagina. If you feel like using a moist wipes, make sure that it is only moistened with water or saline, as some of the chemicals can irritate you further.”

A small shift in wiping can make a big difference to your urogenital health, so pay attention on your next trip to the restroom.

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