In spite of all the forward-thinking articles in women’s magazines that cover just about every aspect of women’s bodies, there are still some common, but surprising beliefs and behaviors that are rarely discussed anywhere. One such behavior is douching.
The word “douche” means to soak or rinse in French. Douching is a washing or rinsing out of the vagina with water and other mixtures of fluids. Most douches are pre-prepared mixtures of water and baking soda, vinegar or iodine that can be purchased at drug and grocery stores. The mixture is squirted into the vagina using a tube or nozzle.
It’s a surprising number having almost 40%, of women between the ages of 18 and 44 are thought to douche regularly and about half of them douche as often as once per week.
Why Would a Woman Douche?
Women douche because of a mistaken belief that it is necessary or useful to:
- clean the vagina
- rinse away menstrual blood after monthly periods
- prevent odor
- prevent sexually transmitted disease
- prevent pregnancy
Please note that these are all myths.
Douching is not safe. Nearly all doctors and American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommend that women do not douche. Your vagina houses a delicate balance of vaginal flora (organisms that live in the vagina) and acidity. A balance of good and bad bacteria helps maintain the acidic environment of a healthy vagina. Any disruption to that balance can lead to yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis.
If you develop pain, itching, burning odor, or other symptoms of an infection, do not douche in an attempt to get rid of the problem. Douching can push the infection further up into your body into to the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Remember, your vagina cleans itself naturally by making mucous. These mucous washes away blood, semen, and vaginal discharge. Healthy, clean vaginas naturally have a mild odor.
Health problems linked to douching can include vaginal irritation, yeast infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
In short, you should not douche but trust your body’s own processes to maintain your vaginal health.
1. Vaginal Irritation: Vaginal irritation which is quite common and most women will experience it at least once in their lives. Vaginal irritation may also be a result of an infection, such as thrush or genital herpes. Infection is particularly likely if an unusual vaginal discharge is also present. This infection may be passed on from person to person, but this is not always the case. They like moist, warm places to infect, such as folds of skin. Fungal infections of the groin can often be irritating to the skin and may be very painful or itchy
2. Yeast Infection: Yeast infections are very common and affect up to 75% of women at some point in their lifetime. The main symptom of a vaginal yeast infection is itching, but burning, discharge, and pain with urination or intercourse can also occur. However, a vaginal yeast infection can be a sign an underlying, more serious condition or can lead to serious complications, especially if left untreated.
3. Sexually Transmitted Disease: The genital areas are generally moist and warm environments, ideal for the growth of yeasts, viruses, and bacteria. People can transmit microorganisms that inhabit the skin or mucous membranes of the genitals. Infectious organisms can also move between people in semen, vaginal secretions, or blood during sexual intercourse. Individuals pass on STDs more easily when they are not using contraceptive devices, such as condoms, dams, and sanitizing sex toys. Some infections can transmit through sexual contact but are not classed as STDs. For example, meningitis can be passed on during sexual contact, but people can acquire a meningitis infection for other reasons. It is therefore not classed as an STD. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are more than 1 million new STDs acquired each day globally. People between the ages of 15 and 24 years acquire half of all new STDs, and 1 in 4 sexually active adolescent females has an STD. However, STD rates among seniors are increasing.
4. Pregnancy complications.Women who douche more than once a week have more difficulty getting pregnant than those who don’t douche. Douching may also increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy by as much as 76%. With an ectopic pregnancy, the embryo implants outside the uterus. The more a woman douches, the greater the risk of having an ectopic pregnancy.
Bonus: Cervical cancer . Douching at least once a week has been linked to a possible increased chance of developing cervical cancer