This article looks at both whether bidets can be used to treat diarrhea and whether they can cause loose stool. I’ve gotten several diarrhea-related questions about the use of bidets. Everything from “can bidets cause diarrhea?” to questions about whether they can treat, cure, or help with the condition.
The question usually comes from folks who’ve already purchased a bidet sometime in the past and want to know if any diarrhea experienced thereafter could be caused by the new toilet. And then there are those who are looking to purchase bidets and wondering whether the toilet can help with diarrhea.
It’s unlikely that bidets cause or prevent diarrhea. However, evidence to support any definitive claim about the relationship between bidet use and GI tract issues is currently lacking (1). But there are certain ways bidet use may help make diarrhea more manageable.
First, we’ll look at whether bidets can contribute to loose stools, the possible connections, and prevention tips. Then further down we’ll look at potential ways bidet use can help make diarrhea more manageable.
Can Bidets Cause Diarrhea?
It makes sense that, if used incorrectly, a bidet could contribute to loose stool. But, so far, there’s no evidence linking bidet use to diarrhea. And, to the extent they may cause watery stool, it’s unlikely it would rise to the level of full-blown diarrhea.
So you know, the WHO (World Health Organization) defines diarrhea as passing 3+ loose or liquid stools per day (2).
What we’ll do here is look at a possible relationship between bidet use and gastrointestinal health outcomes.
Bidets and Diarrhea: The Possible Connection
Above I mentioned bidets likely don’t cause diarrhea. But that I meant actual diarrhea, not just moist or watery poop.
So, the one-off incidence of watery poo doesn’t constitute diarrhea. But, using a bidet improperly could introduce water in the colon creating loose stool, especially if there’s an underlying problem with the anal sphincters—the valves that control flow from the large intestine to the toilet.
So, the connection is that all loose stool—whether it rises to the level of diarrhea—is caused by the introduction of fluid into the GI tract in one way or another.
Diarrhea is caused by the following:
- Malabsorption. Malabsorptive diarrhea results when undigested nutrients create osmotic pressure pulling water into the GI tract.
- Infection (food poisoning, etc.). Secretory diarrhea happens when you ingest bacteria, fungi, or viral agents causing the body to dump a bunch of fluid into your intestines to flush out the infection.
- Osmosis. Osmotic diarrhea is like malabsorptive diarrhea in that there are active solutes in the intestines that attract water. It doesn’t result from malabsorption, so it’s classified differently.
- Damage to the intestines (inflammatory disease, food intolerances, etc.). Exudative diarrhea happens when there’s damage to the mucosal area that triggers fluids to be dumped into the intestines.
- Some medications. Finally, there’s medication-induced diarrhea. Medications can cause diarrhea in several ways, usually by affecting intestinal motility.
As you can see, the common feature is water in the GI tract.
So, there’s no established link between bidet use and diarrhea. But, it wouldn’t be shocking if a gun designed to squirt water at your butt could result in water entering the GI tract through the back door from time to time.
After all, there have been several articles written up to this point on the potential benefits of bidet use for constipation. Again, there’s not much evidence to support these claims. But, if true, the flip side of bidets helping with constipation would be the potential for causing watery stools.
While it is possible, any liquid or soft stools you’re experiencing probably aren’t due to regular bidet use—if you’re using an enema attachment, it may be a different story (more on this below).
This is because the internal anal sphincter normally stays closed to prevent leakage from the rectum. If using the bidet per instructions, getting water up in the rectum is unlikely to occur very often if at all.
This brings us to the next question.
Tips to Avoid Bidet-Induced Diarrhea
So, as far as we know, bidets, when used correctly, don’t induce diarrhea. But, given the above information, it seems plausible that incorrect use of the unit could result in watery poop.
Also, diarrhea is a potential side effect of enemas—one potential off-label use of a bidet.
Here we’ll look at measures you can take to avoid loose stools that, at least, theoretically could be caused by improper bidet use.
Avoid Bidet Enema Attachments
An enema is a procedure in which liquid or gas is shot into the rectum. They’re typically performed to help empty you out, relieve constipation, etc. though there are other uses.
If you’re a bidet owner who’s currently experiencing watery stools and you happen to use an enema attachment for your handheld sprayer, then you’ve probably already considered this as a potential cause. But, I wanted to mention it just in case.
The enema liquid is meant to soften fecal matter to help with constipation—the opposite condition. Lubrication of the poop helps prevent straining to make the bowel movement easier.
While enemas don’t typically result in full-blown diarrhea, loose still is kind of the objective.
Use the Correct Pressure
It’s also conceivable that water could enter the back door when using bidets without an enema attachment, especially when excessive pressure is used or there’s an issue with the anal sphincters.
I don’t know that there are any reported incidences of bidet-induced watery-stool. But, as far as we know, it’s a possibility—especially if the unit is used incorrectly or there’s an underlying medical issue.
This will be different for everyone. If, for whatever reason, you feel that too much water is slipping into your heavily guarded rectum, try lowering the pressure to see if that helps.
The internal anal sphincter is usually pretty good at keeping the rectum sealed off and the external sphincter is usually shut unless you open it voluntarily. But using excessive pressure could bypass both valves to allow water in.
What we call bidets today can range quite a bit (from standalone bidets to attachments and seats), and some models have more bells and whistles than others. But, even the more primitive versions like the handheld sprayer allow for pressure control.
However, you may find that your current model doesn’t provide the pressure level to your liking in which case you may want to shop around.
Consider Other Causes of Your Diarrhea
Keep in mind that it’s tempting to contribute any bodily change that occurs after purchasing a bidet to the new high-tech toilet. I’ve fallen prey to this in other areas of life.
For example, I once decided to try a vegan diet and found that I developed goiter the next week—goiter is swelling of the neck caused by an enlarged thyroid gland. I was just sure it had to do with the new way of eating—that I must have developed an iodine deficiency or something.
It turns out that it was a mouth guard I was wearing at night to help with teeth grinding. It caused an infection which resulted in goiter.
All that to say that, if back when I made the switch to a bidet, I’d begun to experience symptoms of diarrhea, I’m sure I would have been tempted to blame the new toilet. All the while it could have been something else completely.
As mentioned above, it could be new medications, malabsorption, or food poisoning. As the saying goes, you should always consult your physician in matters of health.
Can Bidets Help Diarrhea?
While there’s currently no reason to believe that bidets can help treat or cure diarrhea, there are ways the soothing cleanse may help make the condition more manageable.
Diarrhea results in frequent, if not constant, trips to the toilet. If using toilet paper, frequent pooping calls for frequent wiping. Even the softest TP can rub you raw over time if you’re making a lot of trips to the toilet close together.
The friction from repeated rubbing of the skin can cause severe chaffing.
Also, some diarrhea causes the discharge of fluids that can be very acidic which causes further irritation and inflammation of the skin (3).
The cleaning nozzle of bidets, especially the modern ones, gently flush away poop and irritating fluids and replace the need to wipe clean. Also, many of the newer bidet models have an air dryer, so the need for dabbing dry is eliminated too.
It seems possible that bidet use could cause loose stool, especially if used incorrectly (excessive pressure) or aftermarket enema attachments are used.
But, full-blown diarrhea is unlikely to be caused by bidet use and so far no studies are suggesting that high-tech toilets cause diarrhea.
If you want to use a bidet enema attachment, they’re probably no less safe than other DIY enema kits on the market. But, enemas are always tricky and most doctors recommend that you have them performed by a specialist.
That’s it for now. As always, thanks for reading.