The term “hydrotherapy” is a fancy way of saying water is used to help treat something. It involves water itself, ice and steam. It is meant to improve the circulation of blood, reduce inflammation, eliminate toxins and relax areas of the body. It is also painless, cheap and easily performed in your home.
One form is the sitz bath. This involves using water that is between warm and hot, typically with Epsom salts mixed in. The water level rises only to the hips, so it covers the buttocks area. There are special sitz baths you can purchase and use in your home tub, or you can use your tub itself.
The baths relieve itching, muscle spasms and pain. They are particularly useful following surgeries in the anal/groin region. Taking a sitz bath should be a gentle experience and is useful for virtually any problem in your groin area. The long list includes prostate pain, ovarian pain, uterine cramps or spasms, infections of the prostate, hemorrhoids, insomnia, and sciatica. Even a cold sitz bath is sometimes recommended for impotence, swelling and constipation.
Overall, the sitz bath is conventionally used to treat “anorectal” conditions. This describes any problems causing pain in that particular area. The bath works by relaxing the anal-sphincter and reducing pressure in the area.
Here are its best uses:
These are swollen veins in your anus and rectum, caused by pressure in the area. About half of all adults will get one by age 50. Symptoms include bleeding, pain and itching. Sitz baths make you feel more comfortable and provide relief from irritation and pain.
2. Anal fissures
These are small tears in the lining of the anal canal, often caused by passing difficult stools. While they heal, a sitz bath can provide relief by reducing burning sensations.
This is procedure women undergo during childbirth — and sitz baths are used to clean and relieve pain afterward.
4. Urinary retention
This occurs when you can’t fully expel the urine in your bladder. The sitz bath is useful for urinary retention caused by anorectal surgery. A sitz bath may also help urinary problems from other causes such as enlarged prostate or urinary blockages.
So, to get started, use either a sitz basin or your own tub and run the hot water at a tolerable temperature. Mix two tablespoons of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) in the water. Sit in the bath on the toilet (or sit in the bathtub) and make sure your entire groin region is covered with the water.
The water should not rise higher than your lower stomach region. Your legs should be elevated out of the water. Should the water near your groin start to cool, rock your body a bit to get hot water in there. Refill some hot water when needed. Also, try pulling yourself out of the water once and dropping back in. Contract your muscles as if you are holding in your urine and release. Repeat.
After the bath, rinse with cold water. Then dry off fully and try urinating to eliminate any particles that may have been loosened. Then rest for an hour. Hot sitz baths should run between three and eight minutes or so.
If you have a cold sitz bath, it should be the same length of time. If you want to alternate hot-to-cold, go hot for five minutes, cold for one minute, and so on. (Always end with cold.)
Try this once or even twice a day to see if it helps. It may be worth the effort.