Gynecologists Respond to 'Front-to-Back' Vagina-Wiping TikTok Debate

Gynecologists have weighed in on an important female health discussion that has attracted viral attention on TikTok.

The debate centers around whether girls and women should wipe their vaginas front-to-back or back-to-front after going to the toilet, as a matter of hygiene.

TikTok users launched into discussion on the topic after a user posted a viral video asking: "I know we're supposed to wipe front-to-back, but how the **** do you do it?"

The video, watched more than a million times before it was made private, attracted comments from users who said they felt the same way.

One user responded with a video of their own, also watched millions of times, in which they outlined how difficult they found it to wipe front-to-back, stating that "our anatomy is literally not constructed to do so."

@thatspicylemon

#stitch with @squiddey i know we're supposed to wipe from front to back but IT ISNT POSSIBLE OK??? someone tell the doctors to stop telling us to wipe front to back because we aren't #girlsonly #fyp #foryou

♬ original sound - thatspicylemon

However, experts in female genitalia have told Newsweek that the direction in which one wipes makes a difference, and advised that back-to-front may cause issues with hygiene.

"Yes, it matters," said Dr Sara Twogood, a board certified OB-GYN in Los Angeles and co-founder of Female Health Education. "People should wipe their vulvas from front to back."

The reason, she explained, is that wiping back-to-front may spread bacteria such as E Coli from the anus to the vagina and urethra that can lead to a urinary tract infection (UTI).

The vagina has its own delicate balance of bacteria that enables it to prevent infections such as thrush and bacterial vaginosis, added Dr Leila Frodsham, consultant gynaecologist and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

When unfamiliar bacteria gets involved, it can cause problems.

Wiping front-to-back "is one way to reduce the risk of bacteria from the anus entering the vagina or bladder through the urethra," she added, which could cause an uncomfortable UTI that may need antibiotic treatment.

Twogood added: "In female external genitalia anatomy, there are three holes that are pretty close together: at the front (below the clitoris) is the urethra, where urine comes out. Then there is the vagina, and then the anus. The bladder and inside part of the urethra do not have bacteria."

She said she has seen patients with UTIs and vaginal infections that were "likely" caused by bacteria from the anus.

Both experts agreed that one problem facing women and girls today is that discussion around the female genitalia may still be considered taboo. This leads many to "suffer in silence" regarding conditions like thrush, painful periods and UTIs, said Frodsham.

Twogood urged people to take the topic of wiping seriously for this reason. "This specific recommendation to wipe from front to back is universally taught—at least I hope it is.

"When someone makes a joke about a teaching that's so pervasive but rarely discussed openly after potty training, it strikes a chord!"

woman on toilet
A stock image of a woman on a toilet holding toilet paper in addition to the TikTok logo. TikTok users have been discussing which direction women and girls should wipe after urinating. Getty Images