What Women Should Know About Douching

What Women Should Know About Douching


Douching is a process in which water or fluid mixture is
used to cleanse or flush out the vagina. According to reports, approximately
one in four U.S. women between the ages of 15 and 44 douche. However, this practice is not
recommended by doctors. There are a number of health issues that can be caused
by douching, such as a higher risk for vaginal infections or sexually
transmitted diseases. It can also lead to difficulties conceiving. 



What's Douching And How Does It
Work? 



Douche is a French word that translates to "wash"
or "soak." As mentioned above, it describes the process of using
water of a fluid mixture to clean the vagina.



The majority of douches you'll see on store shelves are prepackaged
mixtures in a bottle or a bag. Common ingredients include water, baking soda,
iodine, and vinegar. The liquid is squirted into the vagina using a nozzle or a
tube. The mixture exits through the vagina as well. 



The process of douching is different from cleaning the
exterior of the vagina when you're showering or bathing. You won't harm your
vagina if you clean it on the outside using warm water. However, douching can
put you at risk for a number of health issues. 



Because of this, doctors generally advise against
douching. 



What Popularized
Douching? 



Many people are surprised to know that douching has been
around since the early 1800s. Initially, it was used as a type of
contraception. Maurice Eguisier, an obstetrician in France, was the creator of
the first modern device for douching. Even though there wasn't any evidence
that showed douching was effective, it was used to promote vaginal hygiene and
as a type of contraceptive. 



Can I Clean My Vagina By
Douching? 



Doctors advise against douching. It's possible to clean your
vagina without any sort of douche. The body is designed to flush out and clean
the vaginal area naturally. If you smell an unusual odor, or if your vagina
seems irritated, that's a sign of a problem. 



You're at a higher risk for infection or sexually
transmitted disease when you douche. 



How To Safely Clean The
Vagina 



Ideally, you should trust your vagina to keep itself clean. The vagina is
self-cleaning and produces mucus that can wash away many substances, from semen
to blood to discharge. You can clean the outside of your vagina with warm
water. 



Speak to a doctor or another medical professional if you
have concerns about vaginal odor. However, you should be aware that even a
clean vagina that's perfectly healthy will have a mild odor over the course of
the day. Your vagina may have a stronger or musky scent if you've been engaging
in physical activity, but this isn't abnormal in any way. 



You can make sure that your vagina stays healthy and clean
by following these simple steps: 



Use warm water to clean the exterior of your vagina. If
desired, you can use mild soap as well. However, if you have any sort of
infection or skin that's on the sensitive side, even a milder soap could lead
to irritation. 



Stay away from products that are scented, such as sprays,
powders, and even scented tampons or pads. Any scented products can put you at
greater risk for developing an infection.



Why Douching Should Be
Avoided 



The majority of doctors suggest that women avoid douching.
The vagina needs to maintain the proper balance of healthy bacteria and
acidity. Douching can get in the way of that balance. 



Ideally, the vagina should have both helpful and harmful
bacteria. When there is an appropriate balance of bacteria, the vagina is able
to remain acidic. This helps to reduce the risk of infection and other types of
irritation. 



When you douche, you can eliminate healthy bacteria in the
vagina and cause more harmful bacteria to develop. This could cause bacterial
vaginosis or a yeast infection. If you have an infection already, douching
could cause harmful bacteria to be pushed into your ovaries, fallopian tubes,
and uterus. 



This could cause you to develop PID (pelvic inflammatory
disease), which is very serious. 



How Prevalent Is
Douching? 



Reports say that approximately one in four U.S. women
between the ages of 15 and 44 practice douching. 



These studies showed that douching is more common for
teens. The same reports indicated that women who are Hispanic or
African-American are more likely to douche. 



There is no evidence to show that douching is healthy.
However, there is evidence that connects douching to health issues. 



What Are The Health Problems That
Have Been Linked To Douching? 



Some of the health problems associated with douching (source) are: 




  • Vaginal
    infections, like bacterial vaginosis. Women that practice douching at
    least once each week are five times more likely to experience bacterial
    vaginosis than women that avoid douching. 

  • Pelvic
    inflammatory disease, an STI-linked infection that affects the
    reproductive organs. 

  • Issues
    with pregnancy, such as ectopic pregnancy or preterm labor. 

  • Sexually
    transmitted diseases, such as HIV. 

  • Dryness
    or irritation in the vagina. 



Experts are still trying to determine whether women who have
increased risk for these types of issues douche more frequently or if these
issues are actually caused by douching. 



Can Douching Prevent Sexually
Transmitted Diseases? 



Whether you douche prior to sex or afterward, it does
nothing to prevent STDs. As a matter of fact, douching actually removes some of
the bacteria in your vagina that can protect you against infection. This can
put you at increased risk for a number of sexually transmitted infections. For
example, the risk of HIV transmission is increased. 



Can Douching Eliminate Vaginal
Odor? 



If you're trying to get rid of odor or deal with other
issues, such as itching and burning in the vagina or unusual discharge,
douching won't help. Douching could mask an odor temporarily. 



However, in the long run, it will actually worsen these
problems. You should contact a doctor or another professional any of the
following symptoms: 




  • Foul-smelling
    vaginal discharge 

  • Itching
    accompanied by a thick discharge that's white or yellow-green 

  • Swelling,
    burning, or redness in the vaginal area 

  • Pain
    or increased discomfort during sexual intercourse 

  • Pain
    during urination 



All of these symptoms are indicators of a
sexually-transmitted infection or vaginal infection. Instead of douching, you
should see a medical professional. If you douche ahead of your appointment, it
will be more difficult for the person treating you to diagnose the
problem. 



Can Douching Prevent Pregnancy
Or Cause Issues? 



The practice of douching can make it more difficult for
women to conceive. It can also cause numerous issues during pregnancy,
including: 




  1. Difficulty
    conceiving. Women that douche once monthly or more have a harder time conceiving than women that don't
    douche. 

  2. Increased
    risk of ectopic pregnancy. Women that douche are at increased risk for
    ectopic pregnancy or damaged fallopian tubes. An ectopic pregnancy is a
    pregnancy in which the fertilized egg attaches to the fallopian tube
    rather than the uterus. If it isn't treated, it can be fatal. It can also
    make it more difficult for women to conceive in the future. 

  3. Increased
    risk of preterm labor. When you douche, your risk of early childbirth is
    higher. According to one report, women that practiced douching while pregnant
    were more likely to give birth before their due date. This puts both
    mother and baby and risk. 

  4. Douching
    after sex cannot prevent pregnancy. Douching should not be used as a form
    of birth control. If you had unprotected sex, or if your method of birth
    control failed, you can prevent pregnancy with emergency
    contraception. 



If you are not on birth control, you should discuss options
with a medical professional.


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