Adult black woman fully dressed sits on the toilet like it is a throne.

Two-Ply or Not Two-Ply: How I Cope with the "Rough" Days

IBS can be incredibly painful. Cramping, body aches, hemorrhoids—you name it, we’ve got it. But I have recently identified yet another culprit: one-ply toilet paper.

The thing I dread the most about having to go at work is using the toilet paper. Like many big corporations that spend copious amounts of money on fancy dinners and expensive hotels, sacrifices must be made in the budget, and so we are left to clean ourselves with the paper-thin one-ply toilet paper. I can handle it if I’m having a good day and only have to go once while I’m at work. But if it’s a day, it can get pretty rough.

Literally.

My IBS toolbox

I have never felt such a specific pain than when trying to wipe an already highly sensitive area with what feels like a cluster of tiny knives. By the fourth or fifth time I have to go, all I want to do is waddle home and sit on a big fluffy ice pack. Unfortunately, I do not have that. But I do have some helpful go-to tricks that help me get through the day.

1. Water

A bidet would be the perfect solution in this situation. Alas, my place of employment does not have these. Instead, I have found some relief in sneaking a small cup of water in with me that I can dip the toilet paper in to help clean myself up. This helps to remove the waste more efficiently, preventing unnecessary friction and chafing. This also helps soothe the area if it’s already sore and inflamed.

2. Cleansing

Once I am home and able to, I’ll hop in the shower and gently cleanse the area with soap and water. Scented soaps tend to make the irritation worse, so I stick with an unscented soap like Dove.

3. Petroleum jelly

Once I’m out of the shower, I will pat the area dry and then apply petroleum jelly. This has antibacterial properties to help keep the area clean and heal. It also provides some lubrication and protects the area from any friction that comes from moving around, whether that be walking around while doing chores or working out. I have also been bringing a small tub into work to get me through the day, and that has really helped!

If I feel that the area is itchy and needs something a little bit stronger, I will instead use hydrocortisone cream. I usually only use this at night when I know I am done going for the day.

4. Diet changes

An extra step I will take is to look at my diet. I will see if there is anything I can change that might be causing me to go more often or be making it harder to go. Especially around my period when I am already very sensitive and have looser bowels, avoiding/cutting back on things such as high sugar, caffeine, and spicy foods helps as well.

Spare a square

While I wish I could just bring my own beloved two-ply to work with me or petition that my higher-ups would spare a square or two (or a thousand), I have made do with these handy dandy tools that I have put in my box. These extend beyond the workplace and have saved me in many other public spaces as well!

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If you have any other tips that have helped you in this area, please share! I’m always on the lookout for more things to add to my toolbox.

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