Knowing effective home remedies can often save you a trip to the doctor's office or expensive treatment. Sitz baths were first introduced in the 1840s and used to alleviate lower abdomen complaints. Now, they are used to relieve a number of medical conditions and improve overall health.
Essentially a shallow bath to cleanse the perineum (the area between the rectum and vulva/scrotum), sitz baths are often used with warm water and Epsom salts to bring relief to the user.
Why Would You Use a Sitz Bath?
Sitz baths can be used to treat and/or relieve a variety of health conditions, including:
These can lead to irritation, pain and bleeding as you poop, and spasms in the anus. Anal fissures are small tears in the tissue that lines the anus and can occur due to constipation, straining whilst you poo, passing large or hard stools, and chronic diarrhoea.
Using a sitz bath, you can relax the muscles in the anal sphincter, reducing pain and discomfort. It can also help to health the fissure faster too!
When the lubricating glands located on either side of the vagina become blocked and swollen, tiny cysts are created. These cysts can become infected, resulting in a pus-filled abscess.
Although larger Bartholin's cysts may require surgical drainage, smaller ones can drain on their own with a few sitz baths for three to four days. Bathing in a warm sitz bath can help to drain a cyst and reduce its size.
Straining during bowel movements or putting pressure (like pregnancy) on your pelvic region can cause the veins in the anus to swell and form into haemorrhoids (piles). You may experience itching, irritation, pain, bleeding, or even no symptoms at all.
Haemorrhoids can go away within a week or so with at-home care, including sitz baths. Epsom salts can provide relief by reducing pain and shrinking swelling.
Your doctor may recommend a sitz bath as part of your post-operative care. Dr Clara Paik, Clinic Medical Director of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at UC Davis Health, has said that "sitz baths are great for helping with discomfort but also wound drainage and cleaning after an operation in [the pelvic area], especially after urinating or bowel movements to decrease bacterial load."
You may be given a sitz bath in your early postpartum period. This can help to ease pain, promote healing, reduce swelling and ensure good hygiene in the perineal area. Sitz baths are particularly recommended after an episiotomy or if you tear during childbirth.
Chronic discomfort around the vaginal opening does not have a clear cause. But symptoms of vulvodynia can include unbearable burning, throbbing, stinging, itching, and other discomfort.
A sitz bath can help to soothe the area and relieve swelling or irritation.
Also referred to as vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina) and vulvitis (inflammation of the vulva), vulvovaginitis can be caused by irritation, STIs, bacterial vaginosis, wearing wet garments for prolonged periods, or allergies to substances like soap. Symptoms can include burning, itching and swelling.
Dr Amber Tully MD, a family medicine physician at Cleveland Clinic, has said that a sitz bath can "subdue the uncomfortable symptoms of vulvovaginitis."
How to Take a Sitz Bath
Generally, you should take a 20-30 minute sitz bath two to three times per day. You can opt to fill your bath tub with warm water and Epsom salts, but it's easier to use a portable, smaller sitz bath such as the Kegel8® Fold Away Sitz Bath.
You can deliver the amazing benefits of Epsom salts directly to your intimate area with a Kegel8® Sitz Bath. Simply dissolve 1/2 cup (125ml) of Epsom salts in 50-55°C water and bathe.
The Kegel8® Fold Away Sitz Bath has been designed for the ultimate, comfortable experience and ease of use. Its strong materials are smooth, comfortable to use, and antibacterial - allowing for easy clean after use. Non-slip pads are also located across the base of the Kegel8® Fold Away Sitz Bath to keep bathing stable and secure. Plus, the collapsible design allows for discreet, flat storage and easy use on-the-go.
It can also double up as a bidet! The clever design of this bidet seat features five drainage holes at the back so if you accidentally overfill the Sitz Bath, any extra water will drain directly into the toilet basin, preventing any accidental spills. Swapping toilet paper for a bidet is much more environmentally friendly and reduces costs. Once you have experienced the ultra-clean feeling of using one, you'll never go back!
 BBC (2014) Sitz Bath [online]. Available from http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/T9wmVY97RGyjSbD2ttkHVg
 SELF (2019) What the Hell Is a Sitz Bath? [online]. Available from https://www.self.com/story/what-is-sitz-bath?mbid=synd_yahoo_rss
 verywell family (2019) The Benefits of Postpartum Sitz Baths [online]. Available from https://www.verywellfamily.com/sitz-bath-perineal-care-after-birth-2759449