Sitz Baths: 6 Things to Know

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Elizabeth Hanes, RN on April 22, 2021
  • woman in bathrobe filling up bathtub
    The Benefits of Sitz Baths
    A sitz bath can promote tissue healing in the perineal area–including the genitals and anus. Many people wonder what a sitz bath is, because it is not the same as a deep soak in a traditional bathtub. A sitz bath involves sitting in a shallow pool of warm or cool water no more than four inches deep. You can take a sitz bath in a tub or using a special bowl available from a pharmacy. Here are some of the health benefits of sitz baths.
  • Mixed race mother admiring newborn baby son
    1. Sitz baths offer postpartum relief.
    Whether or not you receive an episiotomy (cutting of the perineal tissue during childbirth), giving birth vaginally causes pain and swelling of the vulvar and perineal tissues. After a vaginal birth, your doctor may recommend you take a sitz bath periodically to relieve perineal pain and swelling. You may be advised to take a sitz bath with Epsom salts to relieve swelling and promote tissue healing. Or, you may be advised to take a cool water sitz bath. Prepare the bath according to your doctor’s instructions and sit in the sitz bath for 10 to 20 minutes at a time.
  • woman-in-bathtub
    2. Sitz baths relieve hemorrhoid pain.
    If you experience painful hemorrhoids, you might find relief in taking a sitz bath several times each day. To take a sitz bath for hemorrhoids, fill a sitz bath bowl with warm water as indicated on the package instructions. Be sure not to overfill the bowl. Gently sit on the bowl so that your anal area is submerged in the warm water. Continue sitting for 10 to 20 minutes. Drain and refill the sitz bath bowl with warm water, if necessary. Do not add salt or medication to the bowl unless instructed to do so by a healthcare provider.
  • Woman's hand adding salt to bath
    3. Sitz baths with Epsom salts may ease period cramps.
    Painful menstrual cramps may respond to very warm water sitz baths with Epsom salts. For best results, start your sitz bath routine several days before you expect your period cramps to start. To make a sitz bath with Epsom salts, fill a bathtub with about four inches of very warm water or use a sitz bath bowl. Add half a cup of Epsom salts, then sit in the sitz bath for 10 to 20 minutes. Magnesium relaxes the uterus, and Epsom salts contain plenty of magnesium for your body to absorb for cramp relief.
  • Caucasian woman in bathrobe preparing bathtub
    4. Sitz baths promote tissue healing.
    Whenever you experience a wound in the perineal area–whether due to surgery or a condition like anal fissures–you can help the area heal by using sitz baths, often with added salt or Epsom salts. Sitting in a warm-water sitz bath with salt several times a day can help delicate perineal and anal wounds heal faster. To make a saltwater sitz bath, add one teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of baking soda per quart of warm water. Mix well, then soak your perineal area in the solution for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Young woman in bathrobe standing in bathroom
    5. Sitz baths may ease constipation.
    Warm-water sitz baths increase blood flow to the anal tissues, which may help relieve constipation by relaxing the rectum. Promoting better bowel movements by using sitz baths can help you avoid developing tissue tears or hemorrhoids from straining to eliminate stool from the bowel. To use a sitz bath to relieve constipation, fill a bathtub with four inches of warm water (or fill a sitz bowl with warm water) and soak in it for 10 to 20 minutes several times a day or when you feel the urge to have a bowel movement.
  • Male doctor talking to male patient in examination room
    6. Sitz baths do not treat infections.
    Sitz baths can heal wounds in the perianal area, but sitz baths do not destroy bacteria and should not be used to treat a suspected infection. If you experience a vaginal or anal wound or foul-smelling discharge–especially if it occurs with fever–you should see a healthcare provider for a diagnosis as soon as possible. Sexually transmitted infections, bacterial wound infections, and other conditions need to be treated with medications, not with sitz baths.
Sitz Baths: 6 Things to Know | Sitz Baths Benefits
  1. What are the Benefits of a Sitz Bath? Medical News Today.
  2. Sitz Bath. U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus.
  3. Hemorrhoids. U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus.
  4. Recovering from Delivery. KidsHealth from Nemours.
  5. Taking a Sitz Bath. St. Luke’s KC.
  6. Menstrual Cramps: How You can Cope with that Monthly Pain. Cleveland Clinic.
Was this helpful?
Last Review Date: 2021 Apr 16
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.