Doctors don’t still recommend douching, do they? My partner insists on doing it once a week. Could you explain why she should or shouldn’t douche?
I can’t speak for all doctors, of course. There may be some instances in which douching is of practical medical value. But based on research done in the past several years, it’s safe to say the consensus is that douching has far more risks than benefits.
Despite what she sees in advertisements and what she may perceive as good hygiene, a weekly vaginal douche seems like a bad idea to me. Here are some of the arguments against douching:
- The vagina has its own self-cleansing system, so douching isn’t really necessary. Women who have excessive or foul-smelling discharge should see their doctors to determine if they have an infection. Otherwise, normal bathing should be adequate to keep the vaginal area clean. Douching may interfere with the natural cleansing.
- When healthy, a vagina has a balance between microorganisms and acidity. Beneficial bacteria and other beneficial “flora and fauna” help maintain this balance and protect the vagina from infection. Douching may upset that balance and make the vagina more prone to infection and disease. Frequent douching may also mask the presence of infection.
- Some women may be sensitive or allergic to the chemicals in douching products. Irritation can cause burning, itching and increased vaginal discharge. Such reactions can arise in women who have used the same products for years.
- Recent studies indicate that women, particularly young women, who douche have substantially increased risks of pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID; vaginal infections, especially bacterial vaginosis; and ectopic pregnancy, in which the fertilized egg implants somewhere outside the uterus.
- Douching may reduce a woman’s fertility. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that women who were trying to become pregnant took much longer to conceive if they douched. On a monthly basis, douching reduced the woman’s chances of conception by 30 percent.
There really aren’t any proven benefits to douching, other than making a woman feel better if she believes douching keeps her clean. But, this is a misconception. The vagina is not dirty, and a certain amount of vaginal discharge is both normal and healthy.