Many women are wondering whether it is really necessary to douche or wash/soak the vagina in a certain fluid meant to clean it thoroughly. Douches can be found in drugstores and groceries and usually come in bottles for easier use. Although the base of these douche solutions is often water, they may have iodine, vinegar, baking soda, and some sort of fragrance. Statistics show that 20-40 percent of 15-44 year old American women douche regularly; half of that number douches on a weekly basis.
It would seem that a lot of women think that douche is a good part of feminine hygiene, but experts disagree. Beverly Whipple, PhD, RN and professor emerita at the Rutgers University, says that it is absolutely not good for women. She is also the current secretary general of the World Association for Sexual Health. She claims that instead of having a good purpose, douching actually creates health problems for those who use them.
Before turning to douching, one needs to remember that the vagina is equipped to clean itself. The cervix and walls of the vagina has a small amount of mucous that removes menstrual blood, old cells, and other substances out of the feminine area. There are also special bacteria in there that prevents infections caused by foreign and bad bacteria. The vagina is also normally acidic to reduce the possibility of infection.
Facts about douching
The vagina’s self-cleaning system is thrown out of balance with douching. Whipple explains that douching gets rid of the normal bacteria in the vagina whose purpose is to actually fight infections. “It was used for medical treatment until the mid-20th Century, when it was found that it was not healthy,” she adds.
Douching may be the reason for increased risk of bacterial overgrowth, which will in turn lead to vaginal infections. Besides, it may also cause vaginal infections to advance further inside the female reproductive system, where they can cause more damage. Access to the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes could lead to serious health problems for women.
There are also studies suggesting that douching increases the risk of transmitting a disease sexually.
Is douching hygienic?
It is not. Therefore, it should not be considered a cleansing process. Yes, it will help you remove menstrual blood and other substances from the vagina, but along with those it can also remove good bacteria. In turn, your feminine region will be left more prone to infections; the pH level in the area also changes, which means bad bacteria can survive better.
Is douching recommendable for bad odor?
Consider douching as something like an air freshener. Rather than removing the odor, it actually just masks it with a different, more pleasant scene. You should not aim to hide weird or bad odor because these are symptoms of bacterial infection or STD and have to be identified by a doctor. To get rid of these odors, treatment is recommended. If your problem is the mild odor that is released by the vagina, that is natural and that does not mean that you are not hygienic.
Can douching prevent pregnancy?
Women seem to douche after sex because of the myth that it can prevent pregnancy—it doesn’t. It will not magically wash away the semen that has found their way inside the vagina. It will not prevent pregnancy. In fact, it can cause infertility and higher risk of developing ectopic pregnancy—is that what you really want? Ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening because the fetus develops outside of the uterus.
Can douching be used to treat bacterial infection?
As mentioned above, it can increase your chances of developing bacterial infection. So, no. it will not help treat that problem. Instead, it can be the reason why the infection you have becomes more serious. Douching can also make it harder for your doctor to identify–and therefore treat–the infection.
With all these things considered, women should not make a habit out of douching. It’s better not to disrupt the natural environment in the vagina so that it can clean itself properly and keep itself safe from vaginal and bacterial infections.