Today we’re looking at the difference between using a bidet a performing a sitz bath. We’ll also be looking at how bidets can be used for a sitz bath.
A sitz bath, aka hip bath, is a type of bath in which you sit and bathe in water up to your hips (1). It’s used for alleviating different ailments of the lower body—everything from hemorrhoids (piles) and anal fissures to infections of the prostate and vagina.
If you’re in a rush, to make a sitz bath work with a bidet, you’ll probably want one of these (affiliate link). Alternatively, you can sit directly in the basin but you’ll want to make it comfortable by adding cushions for your legs.
What we’ll do here is go over the various questions I’ve gotten around the topic of using a bidet basin for performing a sitz bath.
Topics range from using the bidet itself as a basin for a bath to replacing a sitz bath with regular bidet use.
Bidet vs. Sitz Bath: What’s the Difference?
The main difference is that a sitz bath is always filled and bathed in, while the basin of a bidet may or may not be filled and is rarely used to bathe in. While standalone bidet users often fill the unit, the water is only used to clean the soiled area (not to bathe or soak per se).
I.e., while bidets of all kinds have been known to help with various ailments, their main use is to get a more thorough clean than toilet paper.
Using a bidet has several perks and one is that they’re thought to help control and prevent several ailments from constipation to hemorrhoids and various infections—many ailments that a sitz bath is meant to treat.
For this reason, a lot of folks wonder what the difference is between the two, and if one can be replaced with the other.
Bidet vs. Sitz Bath: Which Is Better?
Electric bidets can be an alternative to a sitz bath. A sitz bath performed in a standalone bidet is no more or less effective than one performed in a toilet. As long as warm water is used, the bath should confer the same benefits in terms of blood flow. One benefit of a bidet is free-flowing water.
Anyway, this is another version of the bidet vs. sitz bath question I get from time to time.
The free-flowing water may reduce the chance of infection. Also, the water can remain warm. So, a bidet may offer benefits in terms of sanitation, convenience, and efficiency.
The same solvents (medicines and salts) can be used in both. So, while the basin of a bidet is no more or less suited to a sitz bath, your toilet doesn’t come with a faucet to allow for a continual flow of fresh water.
There are ways to replace the water in a standard sitz bath performed on a toilet, but nothing could be handier than having a basin with a faucet and drain plug (as with a standalone bidet).
Can You Use a Bidet for a Sitz Bath?
A standalone bidet can be used as a sitz bath when warm water is used. However, depending on the size shape of the basin, the experience might prove awkward, so you may need a sitz bath bowl over the bidet. However, regular bidet use can potentially replace the need for a sitz bath altogether.
This is probably the most common question on the topic.
Warm water is important because it’s largely what’s thought to account for the benefits of sitz baths (2).
So, you can use a standalone bidet, but it could be uncomfortable without a contour. Like with standard toilets, an over-the-toilet attachment can be used which would provide a contour for the legs. The best sitz bath attachment you can use with a bidet can be found here (affiliate link).
One perk is that bidets are considered more sanitary than toilets. While a traditional toilet provides the right-sized basin, the idea of bathing in a toilet (even with an over-the-toilet bowl) can be off-putting to some.
We’ll get into using a bidet as a sitz bath further down in the article. Next, we’ll cover how the use of some modern bidets (specifically electric seats) has been shown to be a good alternative to sitz baths.
Replacing a Sitz Bath With an Electric Bidet
High-tech toilet seats offer a wide range of benefits you won’t find with standalone bidets.
Some studies have shown sitz baths to be ineffective for treating infections and even counterproductive (3,4).
If you’ve ever taken a bath only to find a brown ring around the tub when draining the water, then you probably have a good idea as to why.
Soaking in the same water for a period of time causes the water to become dirty and even contaminated. After all, microorganisms love water so sitting in the same solution can cause microbial growth.
In fact, some studies have shown sitz bath complications to include streptococcus outbreaks and the spread of herpes (3). Of course, the addition of salts and medicines may help prevent this. But, keep in mind, the main benefit of the sitz bath is the increased blood flow caused by the warm water.
When using newer bidets, the kind that sprays water directly at the nether regions, you avoid bathing in the contaminated water. That’s because of the modern electric units, the vast majority of electric bidets only use clean filtered water.
You get a constant stream of warm water to the intended region, as most modern models allow for temperature control.
Standalone bidets offer free-flowing water, but you’ll need to keep the drain plug open if you want to avoid soaking in the water. Also, vertical spray bidets, the kind with a water jet, would be especially useful if you’re going to go with the traditional European kind.
But, newer high-tech bidets would ideal for this purpose because you get more precision when it comes to pressure and temperature.
Also, there are at least some studies comparing the effects of spraying vs soaking, showing the “spray method” to be more “convenient and satisfactory” compared to the traditional soak method (5).
I should note that while a standard sitz bath might have some drawbacks, they’re generally considered safe when performed correctly.
One other benefit the spray method has to offer is that unit you choose to purchase for this reason doubles as a high-tech toilet for daily use. Most who start using modern bidets wonder how they ever lived without them.
You’re likely to only need a sitz bath for a certain period of time—when you’re dealing with an infection or ailment.
If you decide to take the plunge and get a modern bidet, you’ll have a unit for daily use that will give you a thorough clean and prevent further infections—not to mention you’ll save on a lifetime of toilet paper.
What Can a Sitz Bath Treat?
The main difference between sitz baths performed in one type of unit vs another would be the size of the basin.
The conditions a sitz bath, regardless of the unit, are meant to treat include (6):
- Hemorrhoids (piles)
- Anal fissures and perianal fistulas
- Rectal surgery
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Uterine cramps
- Pilonidal cysts
- Bladder infections
- Infections of the vagina and prostate
People who promote the sitz bath claim that It works by keeping the region clean and increasing blood flow to the area of treatment.
These are serious issues and you should always consult your doctor when it comes to anything that affects your health, especially DIY medical treatments.
That should do it for now.
As always, please consult your doctor for anything related to your health. Sitz baths, whether performed in a bidet or standard toilet, are considered to be safe and relatively effective by most health institutions.
Like all home remedies, they do carry some risks.
Standalone bidets (the kind with a stool and basin) can be used to replace a toilet.
While they’re more sanitary than toilets, you’ll still want to get a sitz bath bowl to place over the bidet because sitting directly inside the unit to bathe would likely be too awkward and uncomfortable.
Standalone bidets also offer free-flowing water which allows convenient changing out of the contaminated water—or a constant flow if the drain plug remains open. This will ensure the water remains clean.
The valve and nozzle, like those in your sink, allow for temperature control to ensure the water stays warm.
Using a toilet will require that you replace the water manually when it cools down. The faucet and drain plug on bidets make the process convenient.
This is important because warm water is thought to be what accounts for most of the benefits seen with taking sitz baths, as the warm temperature helps increase blood flow.
Finally, modern bidets (seats and attachments) may prove to be a safer and equally effective alternative to sitz baths. You get a constant flow of clean water to the targeted area and most models allow for temperature control.
Thanks for reading.