There are a lot of questions that people are too embarrassed to ask, but I wish they would! Anything to do with bottoms can be awkward for people to talk about. However, as a sexual health doctor I do spend a large proportion of the day talking about and looking at people’s bums. This part of the body can be the source of some serious health fears, and there’s no better place to discuss them than in your doctor’s room. So, let’s talk about douching.
A lot of guys douche before anal sex. However, whilst it is important to be concerned about hygiene, douching is not necessarily a healthy habit.
Some studies show an increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections through douching. Perhaps washing away the normal mucous lining of the rectum contributes to that. Also the chemicals contained in some commercial douches are irritating to the lining of the rectum and may damage it. Regular douching can also lead to you having difficulty emptying your bowel naturally – in other words your body can end up relying on douching to be able to pass a bowel motion.
It is a myth that the rectum is always full of faeces. In fact, in healthy people who eat plenty of fibre and don’t suffer from constipation, the rectum usually remains empty until just before you get the feeling that you need to go. So, in between bowel motions, your rectum is probably clean.
How to be clean without douching
So how do you get clean before having sex? Have a shower, wash around and just inside the anus with your fingers using warm water (no soap as it is irritating to the delicate tissue there) and you’re ready. No fancy equipment needed!
Anal lumps and bleeding is another area people can be fearful about discussing. Most of the time these symptoms are due to minor problems that can be fixed. Nevertheless, you can never assume this until an expert takes a look! You might think you’ve got a haemorrhoid, but it could be a wart or even an anal cancer. No amount of closing your eyes, tapping your shoes and wishing you were in Kansas will make those go away…
Do you have an embarrassing question you would like to ask Doc Q? Send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org
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