Douching is cleaning of the inside of the vagina with water or other cleansing fluids. It is estimated that about one in every four women regularly douche.
Douche are sold as prepacked mixtures of water and vinegar, baking soda or iodine. The mixture is squirted upwards into the vagina, then washes itself outwards.
There are also other vaginal cleansers labelled as ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ which are inserted into the vagina for periods of time. Vaginal douching products are sold without a prescription and for a good reason.
Douching is not necessary, and is unhealthy. Just washing the outside of the vagina is good enough. Why then is douching so common? Some women just feel ‘unclean’ on the inside.
Others erroneously think they need to wash their insides after sexual intercourse, or prevent infections or pregnancy.
Yet others have reported the need to wash off vaginal odours. Well, all these and whatever other reasons are false beliefs.
The vagina is self-regulatory, with an acidic environment maintained by a natural balance of bacteria and mucous production. This fends off infections and reduces irritation.
Vaginal cleansera labelled as ‘natural’ have special attraction to women. These should however be viewed in the same way as a multitude of other so called ‘natural’ remedies for various conditions.
Such products are unregulated, and haven’t been subjected to objective scientific scrutiny for effectiveness and possible side effects.
Their popularity hinges on clever marketing using testimonials from undisclosed, or even non-existent users. Be vary of any product that claims magical vaginal benefits.
Douching has been linked with both bacterial and fungal infections. If you already have an infections, douching can push up the infective organisms into your uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. You may end up with pelvic inflammatory disease, which is a serious condition.
You also get predisposed to sexually transmitted infections and even HIV.
Longer term effects include vaginal dryness and irritation, ectopic pregnancy and infertility. Newer studies have even linked douching with an increased risk of gynaecologyical cancer.
Don’t douche with the notion that you will prevent inflections. It’s useless to try to prevent pregnancy by douching.
The vaginal has a natural odour which changes as the day advances, and with your cycle. When you douche, you inevitably interfere with the healthy bacterial balance in the vagina. This may worsen anything that you were trying to remedy.
If you are worried about an odour, discharge or unusual irritation, it’s better to get a formal diagnostic evaluation. Then use a proven and specific remedy. If you decide to douche, this is entirely up to you.