Conventional wisdom says that men have it pretty easy when taking a leak. They can stand before a urinal/toilet, unzip their fly, release the urine from their bladder until it’s empty and then shake the remaining droplets of piss away like a Great Dane swings slobber from its mouth. No muss, no fuss and absolutely no need for toilet paper.
But alas, for many men, this is a lie — at least on the last count. Because there are plenty of guys, it turns out, who employ toilet paper to gently dab the tip of their penis once their bladder has been properly emptied. Anecdotally, these men are in the minority, but on Reddit, they’re a fervent bunch (but of course):
The dabbers passionately argue against the norm, believing the “normal” men who merely shake are far from hygienic since their piss droplets end up anywhere but the toilet (on the wall, on the floor, on their pants, on their underwear, on their shoes, on the toilet itself).
But is there actually a right way to “clean up” after taking a leak?
For answers, I reached out to Alex Shteynshlyuger, Director of Urology at New York Urology Specialists.
First, though, he wanted to provide some background. For starters, the official name for these droplets is “post-void dribbling,” and it’s fairly common, Shteynshlyuger explains. It is, though, something to keep an eye on as well. If it appears later in life, or gets worse, it could be a sign of urethritis, which is often the result of an STI or an enlarged prostate for men over the age of 40.
Notably, Shteynshlyuger also cites a third method used by dudes to clear their pipes — pressing on the taint area, or “perineal,” to push any remaining urine from the urethra. But while this method is approved by the medical community, it doesn’t address the last remaining drops left hanging on the end of one’s penis. Plus, Shteynshlyuger adds, men who find the need to do this “are likely suffering from a treatable urinary problem.”
When it comes to those drops, then, Shteynshlyuger says neither the dabbers nor the shakers are wrong. “Either using toilet tissue or shaking off the residual urine is acceptable and safe,” he offers.
That said, both methods have their downsides.
As mentioned earlier, shaking splatters piss all over the place. In fairness, though, this is more anecdotal than science. “We’ve never performed experiments, but I would think that flicking would be somewhat unpredictable,” says Tadd Truscott, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Utah State University and lead researcher at the university’s “Splash Lab,” an entire lab dedicated to unraveling “the physical mechanisms of fluid behaviors.” (A princely fella, he also offers an apology: “Normally we’d help out and take some images, but with COVID-19, our university is mostly on lock down and we can’t get over there to help out with anything like that. I’m very very sorry!”)
Meanwhile, per Shteynshlyuger, dabbing can lead to “residual, microscopic pieces of toilet tissue that can cause redness.” Which, for uncircumcised men in particular, predisposes them to infection.
But again, he’s sure to caution, “There’s no clear winner here.”
“There are pros and cons for each, but overall nothing dramatic to recommend one over the other,” Shteynshlyuger concludes. “As long as proper hygiene is maintained, and the area is washed daily with soap and water, the risks are minimal.”
Ain’t that a pisser?