Should women douche ?


What does it mean to douche ?

The word “douche” means to wash or soak. Douching is washing or cleaning out the inside of the vagina with water or other mixtures of fluids and it’s what a lot of women do. Most douches are sold in stores as prepackaged mixes of water and vinegar, baking soda, or iodine. The mixtures usually come in a bottle or bag.

You squirt the douche upward through a tube or nozzle into your vagina. The water mixture then comes back out through your vagina.

Douching is different from washing the outside of your vagina during a bath or shower. Rinsing the outside of your vagina with warm water will not harm you but douching can lead to many different health problems.
Women douche because they erroneously believe it gives many benefits such as

* Clean the vagina

* Rinse away blood after monthly periods

* Get rid of odor

* Avoid sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

* Prevent pregnancy

Doctors recommend that women do not douche.This is because douching can change the necessary balance of vaginal flora (bacteria that live in the vagina) and natural acidity in a healthy vagina. A healthy vagina has good and harmful bacteria. The balance of bacteria helps maintain an acidic environment. The acidic environment protects the vagina from infections or irritation.

Douching can cause an overgrowth of harmful bacteria. This can lead to a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis . If you already have a vaginal infection, douching can push the bacteria causing the infection up into the uterus, fallopian tubes , and ovaries. This can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, a serious health problem. Douching is also linked to other health problems such as;

  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV) , which is an infection in the vagina. Women who douche often (once a week) are five times more likely to develop BV than women who do not douche.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection in the reproductive organs that is often caused by Sexually Transmitted Infection(STI).
  • Problems during pregnancy , including preterm birth and ectopic pregnancy
  • STIs, including HIV
  • Vaginal irritation or dryness

Researchers are studying whether douching causes these problems or whether women at higher risk for these health problems are more likely to douche. You should not douche to try to get rid of vaginal odor or other vaginal problems like discharge, pain, itching, or burning. Douching will only cover up odor for a short time and will make other problems worse. 

Visit your doctor if you have; 

  •  Vaginal discharge that smells bad
  • Vaginal itching and thick, white, or yellowish-green discharge with or without an odor
  • Burning, redness, and swelling in or around the vagina
  • Pain when urinating
  • Pain or discomfort during sex

These may be signs of a vaginal infection, or an STI. Do not douche before seeing your doctor. This can make it hard for the doctor to find out what may be wrong.

It’s best to let your vagina clean itself. This occurs naturally when it produces mucous. The mucous produced by the vagina washes away blood, semen, and vaginal discharge . You should know that even healthy, clean vaginas may have a mild odor. Keep the outside of your vagina clean and healthy by washing regularly with warm water and mild soap when you bathe.

You should also avoid scented tampons, pads, powders, and sprays. These products may increase your chances of getting a vaginal infection and irritation.

Whether douching after sex really prevent sexually transmitted Infection(STIs). 

No, it doesn’t. The only sure way to prevent STIs is to not have sex. If you do have sex, the best way to prevent STIs is to use a condome and practice safer sex. This include;

  • Be faithful. Have sex with only one partner who has been tested for STIs and is not infected.
  • Use latex or female condoms every time you have sex.
  • Avoid contact with semen, blood, vaginal fluids, and sores on your partner’s genitals. 

Douching removes some of the normal bacteria in the vagina that protect you from infection. This can increase your risk of getting STIs, including HIV. Douching also does not protect against pregnancy.

Douching may affect your chances of having a healthy pregnancy. Limited research shows that douching may make it harder for you to get pregnant.

In women trying to get pregnant, those who douched more than once a week took longer to get pregnant. Studies also show that douching may decrease fertility and increase a woman’s chance of damaged fallopian tubes and ectopic pregnancy.

Ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg attaches to the inside of the fallopian tube or any where else aside the rightful place of the uterus. If left untreated, ectopic pregnancy can be life threatening.It can also make it hard for a woman to get pregnant in the future.

When you are sexually assaulted you should not douche, bathe, or shower. As hard as it may be to not wash up, you may wash away important evidence if you do. Douching may also increase your risk of getting STIs, including HIV.

Go to the nearest hospital as soon as possible. Report to the nearest police station or any available human right organization near you with evidence of the sexual assault. Your doctor or nurse can help you get through the health challenges the assault pose.

From the above, it is clear that women should not douche. It is not a healthy practice.

Source: womenshealth.gov