This article looks at the three main ways bidets help with constipation and covers some techniques for using a bidet to help get things moving again. We’ve come a long way with technology in the area of treating everyday problems like constipation. “Digital” management of constipation used to involve using one’s fingers to dig manually.
Nowadays there are several tools folks find useful for relieving symptoms of constipation. But, there’s a difference between what some have reported to be useful, and remedies that have been studied extensively, FDA approved, recommended by doctors, etc.
So, can a bidet help with constipation?
Bidets have been shown to help manage and treat constipation (1,2). It’s thought they may relax the sphincters and stimulate peristalsis (rectal motility), and some models can be used to perform enemas. But, currently, there’s not enough evidence to warrant recommending bidet use for this purpose.
That is, there’s not enough evidence for FDA approval of bidets for this purpose. But, that’s not to say it’s not worth trying if you have constipation.
Again, these high-tech toilets have been shown to help with constipation in some populations and it just makes sense that a massaging flow of warm water could help with passing a bowel movement (BM) in certain ways.
Treatments have to be studied enough before they become mainstream remedies. Just because a potential treatment isn’t yet recommended doesn’t mean there isn’t good reason to give it a shot.
If the risk is low—and it is in this case (if the bidet is used correctly)—what is there to lose?
So, first, we’ll look at the three ways bidet use may benefit constipation. Then we’ll look at how you can use your bidet to get things moving again.
By the way, if you’re in a rush, the best bidets to help with constipation are modern bidet toilets, seats, attachments, and the handheld sprayers. Standalone bidets really aren’t ideal for this application.
Three Ways Bidets May Help Constipation
1. Bidets Stimulate the Colon to Move
Medline Plus defines constipation as a person having three or fewer bowel movements in a week (3).
I don’t know about you, but that struck me as being a really high bar. I, for one, would be dissatisfied with only four BMs a week.
But, if you’re currently having issues, there are a few ways using a bidet may be able to help, whether you have full-blown constipation or would just like to have bowel movements a bit more frequently.
One reason poop can get stuck is when the intestines don’t move like they’re supposed to. When working correctly, they contract and move in a snake-like pattern. This pushes digested food from one end of the intestines towards the exit.
The reason why too much sitting around can lead to constipation is that the adrenaline released from physical activity stimulates the receptors in the colon causing you to need to go (4). It’s why long-distance runners often have to take toilet paper with them on a run.
So, what does this have to do with using a bidet?
In the article on why bidets feel so good, we talked about how the small jet stream of water can hit certain nerve endings that activate the pleasure centers in the brain.
There are several types of nerves, and some respond to pressure, touch, temperature, etc. Nerves in the rectum don’t feel pain, but they do sense pressure.
It turns out nerves in the rectum responsible for getting things moving can be activated by the incoming water from the bidet.
To make this work, the water has to get to the rectum in the first place. Something we’ll cover below in the section on how to use the bidet to relieve constipation.
So you know, the rectum is the far end of the colon right before the anal canal.
Which brings us to the next benefit.
2. Bidets Can Trigger the Urge to Go
Have you ever heard of the procedures where a balloon is inserted in your bum and expanded?
The pressure activates the muscles in the anal canal and rectum. It’s done to help diagnose problems with bowel movements.
Anyway, pressure–whether caused by food, water, or an expanding balloon–lets your intestines know it’s time to empty out.
One common issue shared by some folks with constipation is not feeling they need to go.
This can be a real problem. After all, forgetting to go is already an issue for a lot of people even when everything is functioning normally with the GI tract—some people get busy and have to remind themselves to go (5).
When you don’t feel the urge, what’s usually to blame is a functional problem. Nerves in the rectum are supposed to respond to pressure changes, in this case, those that result from anything that expands the far end of the colon (6).
One study showed that a bowel movement could be triggered with an introduction of only 2 fl oz (or 60 ml) of liquid into the rectum (9). It took all of about a second for the sensation to hit.
I know what you’re thinking. The words “injection” and “rectum” should never be that close together in a sentence.
But, with the right technique, the bidet can be used to introduce a bit of water into the GI tract, expanding just enough to trigger the need to make a BM, without causing discomfort.
This technique is usually thought of as a DIY home enema. Which brings us to the next point.
3. Bidets Can Cleanse the Rectum (The Enema Effect)
There’s lot of talk these days about bidet enema functions on offer by electric bidet seats. These functions tend to have other labels like “vortex water stream”. So, you probably won’t find a model with an enema button or dial on the remote control.
Most electric models have features that have been proven useful for performing DIY enemas regardless of whether any functions included on the seat are specifically for enemas–for example, narrow water stream or higher water pressure.
Vortex streams are fairly common–a feature that produce a vortex (twisting) water stream.
However, some handheld bidets have attachments that allow for penetration of the sphincters specifically for performing enemas. But, the functions provided by modern electric bidets (those just mentioned) are probably much more comfortable as they are the least invasive.
In the article on bidet use and diarrhea, we looked at why all loose stool, in one way or another, is caused by too much fluid in the intestines.
For example, when you get an infection in the GI tract the body dumps water in your intestines causing you to flush out the infection.
The flip side of this is that a lack of fluid can cause constipation. The main way to deal with this is by drinking water—which is why drinking plenty of fluids is a go-to remedy for relieving constipation (3).
Another way to ensure you get plenty of water in your intestines is to put it there yourself. Bidet use doesn’t typically have an enema effect unless you actually perform an enema (or have one performed) on purpose.
This is because the gateway into the colon is heavily guarded by the internal and external anal sphincters.
But, with a bit of technique, or the right bidet attachment, you can get the water in there where it needs to go.
Which Types of Bidets Are Best for Constipation?
Most of these techniques are going to work with modern bidet toilets, seats, attachments, or handheld sprayers.
In case you’re new to the subject here’s a quick primer.
The Best Types of Bidets for Constipation
These four include the modern bidets and the handheld variety.
- Bidet toilet: the most expensive kind as you’ll be purchasing the entire commode. The seats have a built-in bidet.
- Bidet seat: a seat/lid combo having a built-in bidet. These replace the seat/lit on your current toilet. My personal favorite and the one I recommend is the TOTO C100.
- Attachment: a nozzle, usually non-electric, that attaches to your current toilet without replacing any parts. They have fewer features than toilets and seats (no oscillation, not self-cleaning, etc.), but some come with temperature control.
- Handheld sprayer: the ones that look like sprayers in kitchen sinks. They’re used to manually spray the soiled area. These can work well for dealing with constipation because they offer precision (an adequate direction of spray) and some allow for an enema attachment.
Other Bidets (Not Recommended)
These can work, but they’re much less ideal because you just don’t get the precision offered by the ones outlined above.
- Classic standalone bidet: These are the washbasins located next to toilets. They have a faucet like the one in your sink and produce a water stream that flows horizontally so there’s less precision.
- Standalone with a vertical spray: Being standalone, these are separate washbasins but shoot the water straight up from the basin like a small fountain. These aren’t ideal for relieving constipation but are much better suited than the classic standalone bidets.
Using a Bidet for Constipation
Spread Out a Little
Most techniques have to do with relaxing.
But that can be easier said than done, given you’re about to introduce water to such a sensitive area.
As mentioned, the butt is guarded by two sphincters, both of which need to be open for water to enter.
You can control the external sphincter by expanding it or clinching it. To open it enough, you’ll probably want to do so manually using your hands to spread the cheeks out a bit.
This will help you open up while getting the cheeks out of the way creating a clear path for water to enter.
Use the Right Pressure and Temperature
You need to use enough water pressure, but not so much that damage is caused.
Using the right pressure has a couple of roles here:
- Relaxing the sphincter. The internal sphincter can’t be opened voluntarily but it can be relaxed allowing water to enter. Most modern bidets allow for just the right pressure (10 mN) and temperature (100.4 F0 or 38 C0) to get the job done (10).
- Allowing the water to enter. The sphincter isn’t firmly closed, so using enough pressure will allow the water to work its way in.
As far as temperature goes, warm water is thought to help relax the sphincter muscles.
Use the Oscillation or Vortex Feature if You Have One
First is the oscillating feature to get things relaxed. When something oscillates, it moves back and forth at a regular speed like a backyard water sprinkler. Some newer models have nozzles that can do this. It’s meant to help relax—it’s like a mini massage.
A lot of bidet owners report that the feature really helps them to relax down there, making BMs easier to initiate.
Doing a mini massage session with the oscillating feature may be useful in the beginning before introducing more water with a straight stream.
If sphincter control is the main culprit causing constipation, as it is with some, this technique may be all that’s needed.
Then there’s the vortex function. The vortex feature is designed to allow the water to penetrate the sphincters to loosen up stool in the rectum. If your model has this function, you’ll definitely want to give it a try.
Consider Getting a Handheld Bidet
Even the best hand held bidets offer far fewer features compared to modern seats, but they do allow for more precision since you’re spraying manually. So they are the best at aiming.
If you find that the water stream from your bidet seat or attachment isn’t penetrating, you may benefit from using a handheld nozzle as they allow for enema attachments, devices that can be attached to the hose.
Enema attachments provide a nozzle that can be used to softly penetrate the sphincters allowing you to introduce water directly into the rectum.
For full instructions, make sure to check out the article on bidet enemas linked above, where the techniques are covered in more detail.
Of course, you can use a handheld bidet for helping constipation without getting any fancy aftermarket attachments.
Keep in mind that most don’t offer warm water which is thought to help with relaxing the sphincters.
For warm water, you’ll need a model that comes with an attachment that allows hooking up the supply hose to the shower nozzle or the nozzle in the bathroom sink.
In fact, most DIY enemas are done in the shower. The shower provides an ideal environment because you don’t have to worry about getting water everywhere.
That should do it for now.
Constipation can have several causes. If lifestyle factors like a poor diet or lack of physical activity are at the core of the problem, then using a bidet would only be a band-aid of a solution.
You should always consult with your doctor to figure out how to best treat the underlying causes of your constipation.
But, to the extent that you have difficulty passing bowel movements, bidet use may be able to help in certain ways.
Some folks have to live with chronic constipation due to long-term medication use and certain underlying conditions.
I’d imagine most having to deal with constipation long-term would be glad to use any tools at their disposal to make the condition more manageable.
And those who have to deal with constipation short-term for some reason, may find using a bidet during that time to be helpful.
As always, consult with your doctor before making any decisions about your health.
Thanks for reading.