Vaginal Douching: Harmful Or Healthy?
Vaginal douching seems to bring more complications than benefits. Find out the facts about vaginal douching before you start doing it.
As you walk down the aisle of tampons and sanitary napkins at the nearest personal care store, you might come across a section of “feminine cleansing products and treatments.” You may have heard about more, but there is a likely chance your doctor will advice you against them, especially vaginal douching.
What is vaginal douching?
Vaginal douching is the practice of spraying a solution of vinegar and water upwards into the vagina using a bottle, bag or douching syringe. The objective is for the solution to reach the parts inside you that usually only your Intrauterine Device (IUD) can reach. Prepackaged douching solutions that contain baking soda and iodine are available as well.
Advantages of vaginal douching
Even though doctors advice against using vaginal douching and there are no studies to prove it, many women swear by it.
A recent study conducted in the US, states the following benefits of vaginal douching:
- Induces a feeling of freshness and cleanliness
- Helps to rid off unpleasant odours from discharge and menstrual blood
- Helps to avoid contraction of sexually-transmitted diseases
- Effective birth control solution
- Reduces itchiness and swelling
- Cleanses the vagina thoroughly
Disadvantages of vaginal douching
Don’t start running to the drug store to start your douche-stravaganza yet, ladies. Medical professionals seem to be in agreement over one thing: douching is not recommended.
Dr Malpani, MD, Malpani Infertility Clinic, Mumbai, says, “Many women feel that douching is a good thing, but when you are on a baby-making run, it’s a terrible idea to use douches as they alter the pH-level of your vagina and impair fertility. It’s the same with personal lubricants. Studies have proved that they lower sperm count and impact sperm motility too.”
According to studies, spraying anything inside your vagina on your own without a doctor’s advice is harmful. Take a look at what they say is in store for women who use this method for cleaning their genitalia:
- Your vagina can get infected: The risk for Bacterial Vaginosis or BV goes up five times more with women who douche once a week.
- Your whole female reproductive system can get infected: Douching can push the bacteria found in your vagina up to your cervix, uterus and ovaries, resulting in Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.
- You can have pregnancy problems: Whether you start off as pregnant or get pregnant while douching regularly, you can be at higher risk for ectopic pregnancy and preterm birth.
- Your risk for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) increase: Depending on circumstances, you may contract STDs and even the dreaded HIV when you douche. Your vagina may be stripped of its natural defenses against bacteria, infections and viruses.
- Your vagina can get lacerated and chafed: Douching can cause dryness and irritation that can lead to your tender flesh getting abraded, red and even cut regularly.
- You may find it difficult to get pregnant: Douching upsets the natural condition of your vagina, making it even more difficult to conceive.
- You can be more susceptible to cervical cancer: Some studies have shown that douching can lead to higher risk of contracting cervical cancer.
Doctors also say that douching does not solve the following reproductive health problems:
- Thick, white, yellow or greenish discharge
- Vaginal itching and swelling
- Pain when urinating
- Pain during sex
- Vaginal irritation and swelling
Medical science also says that the vagina is a self-cleaning orifice. Unless you have certain diseases or illnesses concerning your reproductive system, you don’t have to clean your vagina beyond warm water and very mild soap.
So what is the best way to clean the vagina?
Most experts would advise you that it is always best to let your vagina clean itself naturally. The vagina creates a mucous that washes away discharge, blood and even semen.
If you are worried about the vaginal odour then you must know that all healthy and clean vaginas have odour. Another way to let it naturally clean itself is to indulge in physical activity.
Keep your vagina clean and healthy by:
- Wash the periphery of the vagina with warm water while you bathe. You can use mild soaps if you have sensitive skin or any vaginal infections. But remember to consult with your gynaecologist about these mild soaps because even they can sometimes cause dryness and irritation.
- Avoid getting lured by the prospects of scented tampons or sanitary napkins, powders and sprays. You can develop vaginal infection with such products.
So why do women douche?
Depending on whom you ask, women have different reasons for douching. The practice is most prevalent in the United States where African-American and Hispanic women say they do it because their mothers taught them.
Caucasian women, on the other hand, usually douche because of television advertisements.
If you still feel strongly about vaginal douching and want to know more, we urge you to consult your OB Gynecologist about how this practice can affect you as a healthy, reproductive female.