While this year has seen us washing our hands more than ever, some of us may still be guilty of making the most basic hygiene mistakes at home, especially in the bathroom.
Intimate health expert Stephanie Taylor, managing director of StressNoMore, has revealed how common mistakes could potentially lead to more serious problems, including urinary tract infections and pelvic floor damage.
Bad habits include spending too long on the loo, taking your phone with you into the bathroom and leaving your wet towels lying around after showering.
She also advised keeping toothbrushes in a cabinet or investing in a head protector to avoid potentially harmful bacteria from the toilet transferring into your mouth.
Intimate health expert Stephanie Taylor has revealed how common bathroom mistakes could potentially lead to more serious problems. Stock image
Lingering on the loo
It can be tempting to take your time when going to the toilet – but this can be very damaging to your health in many ways.
Firstly, your pelvic health can suffer. By sitting on the toilet before you’re ready to go or trying to force it quickly can weaken the pelvic floor muscles.
This weakness can lead to serious issues like incontinence, the complete inability to hold in pee, or prolapse, when the pelvic muscles slip from their normal position and bulge into the vagina.
Mucus or bleeding after passing stool are also signs you’re pushing too hard. These are common symptoms of haemorrhoids, which are lumps inside and around your bottom caused by excessive straining.
Hovering on the loo for too long also encourages urine to dribble intermittently, rather than a steady short flow, once again weakening the pelvic floor.
Taking your phone into the bathroom
While this can lead to people spending excessive amounts of time on the toilet, affecting your pelvic region, the germ factor here is a serious problem too.
Unsurprisingly, bathrooms are often crawling with potentially harmful bacteria which could be transferred on to your phone.
The most common types of bacteria found in any bathroom are bacteroidaceae, or bacteria from faeces, E.coli, streptococcus and salmonella – some of which can cause serious infections.
Leave the phone outside and have a few minutes away from technology. It’ll benefit your mind and body alike to have some time alone with your thoughts.
Storing your toothbrush in the wrong place
In a room with high amounts of bacteria, nothing you use directly on your face or body should be sat out on surfaces – especially something you use inside your mouth.
What are the risks of E. coli?
Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a type of bacteria common in human and animal intestines.
There are a number of different types of E. coli and while the majority are harmless, some can cause serious food poisoning and infection.
E. coli bacteria are a common cause of cystitis, an infection of the bladder that occurs when there is a spread of the bacteria from the gut to the urinary system.
Some types of E. coli can cause gastrointestinal infections.
A particular life-threatening complication called haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) may develop in five to 10 per cent of people infected with a toxin-producing form of E. coli.
Your toothbrush can become a hot bed for bacteria if it’s not stored carefully, like on the side of the sink, with the most common form of E. coli infection occurring through the mouth.
If your sink is near your toilet, flushing it with the lid up can mean spray and bacteria from inside the bowl can reach your toothbrush and other items.
To avoid this, close the toilet set before flushing and store your toothbrush away in a cabinet or buy a head protector.
Wiping the wrong way
This may sound obvious, but you should always wipe from front to back.
Wiping the other way can land you with some unpleasant complications, especially for women, with the most common side effect being a urinary tract infection (UTI) – an often-painful bladder infection.
Put simply, this can spread bacteria from the anal area to the vagina or penis. If you’re worried that bad wiping habits could have given you an infection, look out for itchiness, red rashes and a change in the smell of your urine.
UTIs, if left untreated, can worsen, with the infection spreading from the bladder to one or both kidneys, potentially causing damage that will permanently reduce their function.
Leaving wet towels in the bathroom
If you leave your wet towels in the bathroom you could be creating the perfect environment for bacteria to multiply.
Germs love to fester in cold, damp environments, so when you use the toilet or wash your dirty hands, they will immediately gravitate towards your used towels.
If you share towels within your household, you’re spreading potentially harmful bacteria.
To avoid this problem, store your large towels outside of the bathroom in between uses, try to dry them out after you wash, clean them at least once a week at 60 degrees and don’t share with family members.