What Is A Sitz Bath (And How It Can Help Ease Your Pain)

Sitz baths are a simple and effective way to promote healing and relieve pain and discomfort in the perineal area, the area located between the genitals and the anus in both males and females, per the Cleveland Clinic. If you are experiencing pain in the perineal region, the discomfort can be unbearable. A variety of factors can cause pain in both men and women. This includes urinary tract infections, interstitial cystitis, injuries, and abscesses. Perineal pain in men may also be caused by prostate problems such as prostatitis, and in women, gynecological issues such as vulvodynia, vaginismus, or pelvic organ prolapse might be responsible, says Healthline.

Depending on the cause, additional symptoms of perineal pain may include pain during sexual activity or bowel movements, chronic pelvic pain, or frequent urination. The treatment options for perineal pain vary, and sitz baths are now commonly used. It is often recommended for people who have had surgery in the genital area, those who have hemorrhoids, or women who have recently given birth, explains Healthline.

How to take a sitz bath

Sitz baths are mostly used to soothe and cleanse the perineum and the area around the anus. According to Healthline, you can have a sitz bath by sitting in the bathtub. Start by filling your tub with a few inches of water, and soak your perineal area for up to 20 minutes. Ensure the water is warm but not too hot to burn your skin. Alternatively, you can take a sitz bath in a specially designed sitz bath basin that fits over the toilet. The Cleveland Clinic advises placing a small basin on top of your toilet. The basin often comes as part of a kit that includes a bag connected to a tube that must be filled with hot water. The water will then run through the tube into the basin. The clinic says you don't need to add any Epsom salts or other substances to the water, since they might cause inflammation. However, some doctors may provide specific recommendations on substances or medication to add to your sitz bath.

How does a sitz bath help relieve pain?

A sitz bath can help relieve pain and discomfort in the perineal area in several ways. First, it promotes blood flow to the anal tissues, says the Cleveland Clinic. It can also help relieve pain by relaxing the muscles in the perineal area. The Cleveland Clinic notes that the bath's warm water and buoyancy help relax the anal sphincter, reducing pain and discomfort associated with muscle tension or spasms.

Sitz baths can also help cleanse the perineal area and relieve irritation, itching, and minor pain, according to Healthline. For those who struggle with issues like hemorrhoids, they may also help to reduce discomfort during bowel movements. Overall, sitz baths are a simple and effective way to promote healing and relieve pain. That said, remember to always consult with your doctor before starting any new treatment. This is especially important if you have a medical condition or are taking medication, since the treatment also carries a minor risk of infection.