Is Vaginal Douching Safe?

The Best Way To Clean Your Nether Regions

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What Is Vaginal Douching?

Vaginal douching is the process of rinsing or cleaning the vagina by forcing water or another solution into the vaginal cavity to flush away discharge and anything else that may be there. Vaginal douches are available over-the-counter and are made in a variety of fragrances by several manufacturers; they are also available by prescription to treat certain conditions or prepare for certain procedures.

Why Do Some Women Use Vaginal Douches?

Women choose to use douches for a variety of reasons. Many of these are related to myths or misinformation about what vaginal douches can do. A woman may use a douche to:

  • rinse away any remaining menstrual blood at the end of her period. 
  • avoid pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases following sexual intercourse. However, douching is neither a contraceptive nor a preventative measure against STDs. It can, in fact, increase the risk of developing an infection.
  • reduce vaginal odors. Women with an unusual vaginal odor should see their clinician for proper diagnosis, as this may be sign of infection, and using a douche may only complicate the condition.
  • feel "cleaner."
  • follow a doctor-prescribed treatment for chronic yeast infections or chronic bacterial infections

Is Douching Healthy?

Simply stated, the answer is "No." 

According to a study published by the American Journal of Public Health, douching may reduce a woman's chance of becoming pregnant during a particular month by approximately 30 percent.

Regular vaginal douching changes the delicate chemical balance of the vagina and can make a woman more susceptible to infections. Douching can also introduce new bacteria into the vagina, which can spread up through the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes. Researchers have found that women who douche regularly experience more vaginal irritations and infections such as bacterial vaginosis, and an increased number of sexually transmitted diseases.

Furthermore, regular users of vaginal douches face a significantly higher risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a chronic condition that can lead to infertility or even death if left untreated. 

For these reasons, douching is no longer recommended as a safe or healthy way to routinely clean the vagina. The only safe and healthy way to clean the vagina is to let the vagina clean itself

How Does the Vagina Clean Itself?

The vagina cleans itself naturally with its own mucous secretions. When bathing or showering, use warm water and gentle unscented soap to cleanse the outer areas of the vagina. Feminine hygiene products such as soaps, powders, and sprays are not necessary and may lead to irritation of sensitive tissues.

Seek the advice of your healthcare provider if any of the following occur:

These symptoms can be indicative of a number of different conditions, from yeast infections to bacterial infections, STDs, and urinary tract infections, all of which are treatable with prescription medication.

If you suspect you have a vaginal infection, contact your healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment.


Lifestyle Tips. Accessed 08/26/09.

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