Bidets: A flash in the can, or potty perfection?

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Some bathroom-fixture manufacturers want to increase awareness of bidets, and James Lin, who owns online retailer, says bidets are becoming more popular in the United States. Lin and other retailers hope that baby boomers will gravitate toward the use of bidets, because baby boomers, who are moving into their senior years, can have difficulty with the mobility and range of motion that’s required to clean themselves after they use a conventional toilet.

A selling point that manufacturers often use is an increased level of hygiene that a bidet can provide. However, Dr. R. Mark Ellerkmann, who is a urogynecologist with Mercy Medical Center, says he hasn’t seen evidence that confirms a connection between the use of a bidet and increased hygiene. On the contrary, Ellerkmann says, bidets might be undesirable for women, because the stream of water can upset a woman’s natural pH balance, much in the same way that douching can.

Bidets come in three versions: a stand-alone fixture that replaces an existing toilet (and looks similar to a toilet); a basin-like fixture that looks like a smaller, second sink and sits next to an existing toilet; and a seat cover that you use directly on your existing toilet. Prices range from less than $100 for the seat cover to at least $4,000 for the stand-alone version.