To Douche or Not To Douche?

| Women's Health

Tight yoga pants, long workouts and increased temperatures can sometimes lead to uncomfortable or embarrassing situations “downstairs”. Surprisingly in the US, rather than visiting their OBGYN, some woman still believe douching is the fastest way to fix their vaginal issuesEveryday Health and Beverly Whipple, PhD, RN and professor at Rutgers University, says "Absolutely not."  Douching serves you no purpose and can actually cause some health issues.

Woman sitting by the window

The Drawbacks of Douching

The vagina is a self-cleaning organ. The cervix and the walls of the vagina create a small amount of mucous that carries menstrual blood, old cells, and other matter out of the vagina. Special bacteria in the vagina also help to prevent infections caused by other microbes that don't belong in the vagina. The normally acidic environment of the vagina is also important for minimizing the risk of infection. The healthy vagina represents a fine-tuned, delicate system that douching can easily throw out of whack.

"Douching flushes out the normal bacteria in the vagina that are there to fight vaginal infections," Whipple explains. "It was used for medical treatment until the mid-20th Century, when it was found that it was not healthy."

Ironically, though many women still believe douching will "clean out" the vagina, douching actually increases the risk of bacterial overgrowth and associated vaginal infections. Douching may also cause pre-existing vaginal infections to travel deeper into the female reproductive system, flushing the infection into the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Recent studies have even found that douching can increase the risk of contracting sexual transmitted diseases (STDs).

Myths About Douching

So, why do women douche? Experts say it may be due to a number of myths about douching that have taken root. These myths include:

  • Douching is "hygienic," and part of a woman's normal cleansing process. Again, no. Douching will wash away menstrual blood and other matter, but it also changes the pH, or the acidity, of the vagina, leaving it vulnerable to infection.

To read more myths about douching, click here to be taken to the original story on Everyday Health.