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In the United States, Canada, and many other countries, people do personal hygiene with dry paper. That doesn't always work very well, and the bidet offers a more satisfactory experience.

An obvious benefit of a Toto washlet or an electronic bidet for American homeowners is not having to buy toilet tissue. There is never a worry of running out of it, and there is far less risk of the plumbing systerm's becoming clogged, too. The new electronic bidets replace the old-school, toilet-adjacent bidets that do not have dryer or odor removal functions.

A more important benefit of the electronic bidet, however, may be its impact on health. The electronic bidet can be operated so that it sprays the Anorectal region with warm water before defecation.

In chronically constipated people, the warm water is soothing, and it also stimulates bowel movement. People who have spinal cord injuries, who sometimes need as much as an hour to "go," often are able to complete bowel movements in ten minutes or less with the help of the spray from an electronic bidet. A study by the Toto company found that 75 percent of people who have spinal cord injuries find it easier to relieve themselves with the help of an electronic bidet.

One of the major issues in nursing home care is the inability of patients to perform personal hygiene after toileting. Electronic bidets allow the elderly to get clean without the indignity of having an attendant perform the cleansing. There is no toilet paper to get on the floor, no need to stand up for cleaning, and less risk of falls. Even better, studies have found that seniors in nursing home care get fewer bladder and urinary track infections when they use electronic bidets. This means fewer trips to the doctor, and also, usually, better mental health.

Is there any not to like about electronic bidets? Oddly, researchers at the  Toyama Hospital, International Medical Center of Japan, have found one problem with warm-water cleansing for women of reproductive age. Pre-menopausal women who use warm-water devices after urination tend to have lower counts of vaginal Lactobacillus. The Lactobacilli are friendly, probiotic bacteria that help keep vaginal yeast infections in check. The use of the warm-water spray seems to kill the "good" bacteria so that yeast infections are more common. Japanese scientists found that 42 percent of younger, female Toto toilet users had none of the needed Lactobacilli in their vaginal swabs, while only 8 percent of women who did not use Toto toilets lacked Lactobacilli. There is no definitive proof that the lack of the beneficial bacteria leads to actual vaginosis, however, just that it seems to upset the healthy bacteria.

Electronic bidets are safe for use during pregnancy. Males can use them any time without complications. The very first time you use one of these devices may be awkward, but just be patient, and you will soon come to wonder how you ever got along without them.

  • Cohen-Mansfield J, Biddison JR. The potential of wash-and-dry toilets to improve the toileting experience for nursing home residents. Gerontologist. 2005 Oct. 45(5):694-9.
  • Uchikawa K, Takahashi H, Deguchi G, Liu M. A washing toilet seat with a CCD camera monitor to stimulate bowel movement in patients with spinal cord injury. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2007 Mar. 86(3):200-4. PMID: 17314704.
  • Mind map by SteadyHealth.com
  • Mind map by SteadyHealth.com
  • Photo courtesy of Cognoscenti* via Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/trishamanasan/18229741960