Why does wiping hurt?
August 19, 2018 5:12 AM   Subscribe

I recently began wiping front-to-back after urination after being told by my doctor that is the correct method. My skin is now sore and irritated in a way it never was when I wiped middle-to-front. (I never started in the back/near the perineum.) I dread having to urinate now because it is so uncomfortable. The soreness and irritation lasts for hours after I wipe. Am I doing this incorrectly? Is this normal for females?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The correct method is whatever method leaves you feeling properly dried and has not been causing recurrent urinary tract infections. If that's what your previous method used to achieve for you, then I recommend ignoring this particular piece of well-meant advice from your doctor.
posted by flabdablet at 5:25 AM on August 19, 2018 [18 favorites]

I'm sorry, that sounds pretty miserable.

To answer: this is not normal. You could go back to what you were doing before and see if that helps, or try just patting dry instead of wiping. Consider if anything else has changed recently such as your toilet paper or detergent. Maybe you're applying more pressure just because you're thinking about it more and trying to be more deliberate? If it keeps being an issue, talk to your doc.
posted by bunderful at 5:27 AM on August 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

No, not normal.

Do you get waxed? I could see that upping the irritability factor.

The front-to-back rule is for prevention of UTIs and BV after bowel movements. So if you go front to back after poops, and your previous method wasn't contributing to UTIs or BV, then it seems like what you were doing is fine. If it was, then blot instead of wipe.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 7:12 AM on August 19, 2018

I don't think "front to back" means "from all the way in the front." I've always understood it to mean "as opposed to any way that would bring butt stuff forward." It's fine to pat the urogenital area dry gently after peeing if the butt was not involved, and it's fine to go middle-to-back.

It is absolutely not normal to hurt after wiping, no.

As you were!
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:24 AM on August 19, 2018 [8 favorites]

I am firmly in the wipe middle to front area. I personally am built in such a way that the front to back method wouldn't really work, and I would imagine that a lot of women are in the same boat. Do what has worked for you for all of your life.

I'm curious, was this a female doc?
posted by ottergrrl at 7:25 AM on August 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

Try switching to blotting then non perfumed moist toilet tissues instead.
posted by humph at 7:27 AM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you've never had an issue down there, or rarely, I would go back to what works for you! I have never really thought about how I wipe down there but I can understand how front to back could necessitate more force and thus be irritating.

I would switch to wet wipes for a while. You can also get a little spray bottle (women use them for the sensitive postpartum period, called a peri bottle), and try spraying yourself clean when you're at home and then patting dry, it's the best.
posted by lafemma at 7:48 AM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm wondering if you've accidently chafed yourself with the new wiping method. I'd suggest switching to baby wipes and your old method for a bit and perhaps even a swipe of Desitin in the sore area overnight (source: I chafed myself in the ladybits recently and it was incredibly painful and two days of Desitin cleared thar right up).
posted by TwoStride at 8:08 AM on August 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you did get this advice because of a UTI - and you were treated with antibiotics - there's a possibility you now have thrush and that's making your skin more irritable. On its own, wiping front to back shouldn't cause irritation but it might cause already sensitive skin to flare up.
posted by Ballad of Peckham Rye at 8:21 AM on August 19, 2018 [15 favorites]

Agree with patting more than wiping, and if you weren’t getting UTIs from your old method, I don’t see why you shouldn’t resume it once healed. Go underpantsless as much as you can until then, at times when you can be around the house in a skirt or nightgown.

Side note: If you end up using wet wipes, don’t flush them down the toilet, even if they say “flushable.” These are a big problem for sewage systems.
posted by lakeroon at 8:49 AM on August 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

Just in case this is the issue, one ought not forcefully wipe one's vulva. When my niece was learning how to handle her own bathroom hygiene, her mother taught her to blot. I wish mine had. Unless there's other cleaning that needs to happen, the point is simply to absorb excess urine, so blotting works well.
posted by linettasky at 10:29 AM on August 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

exactly what lakeroon said, plus when you have to wear underwear, choose cotton.
posted by AFABulous at 10:32 AM on August 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Midwife here. I hope this isn't too roughly phrased, but how are you defining the front? If you're starting up on the mons pubis (where your hair grows) or at the clitoris, that's too far forward, so might be giving you more general skin irritation?
posted by stillmoving at 11:00 AM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'd say go back to the doctor, maybe a specialist. This is something you cannot learn from strangers on the internet. I'm honestly confused both by your question and some answers. You should not have any problems if you are doing this right.
My mum never learnt to dry herself properly. Just recently this has become a very big problem, to the point where she almost died from sepsis. Something that isn't a big issue when you are young and healthy can turn serious later.
posted by mumimor at 11:08 AM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Your description of your pain sounds exactly like what a yeast infection feels like for me, which are often caused by antibiotics (which you might have been given for a UTI along with this advice). Nthing getting a checkup at the doctor.
posted by jouir at 11:11 AM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

No no no. Middle to front: wipe once then pat vulva. Back separately. Use wet wipes if it hurts then blot gently with dry tissue.
posted by fritillary at 12:22 PM on August 19, 2018

You might want to consider installing a Toto Washlet which should help eliminate the irritation. They are pricey, around $350 (and require a power outlet near the toilet) but very helpful for any irritation issues.
posted by egeanin at 12:54 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've always understood front-to-back to mean "don't push butt stuff forward" and not that you have to always hit the front if it isn't relevant to a specific wiping instance. So, don't get poop on the toilet paper then introduce that poop to the vulva. It sounds like you might be taking it more literally and always wiping the front even if there's really nothing there to wipe? If so you don't have to do that.
posted by augustimagination at 2:14 PM on August 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

I have a travel bidet bottle that washes away everything, and then I blot dry.
posted by spinifex23 at 4:48 PM on August 19, 2018

If you want to give bidet toilet seats a try, but not enough to drop serious cash on one, this one comes fairly frequently recommended from the sub $60 range.
posted by Aleyn at 1:53 PM on August 20, 2018

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