A douche isn’t just a jerky guy in a Hollywood movie. ‘Douching’ also refers to the practice of washing out your vagina with homemade cleansers (such as a mix of water and vinegar) or off-the-shelf feminine products and washes. The implication is that the vagina is a dirty, smelly organ that requires manual cleansing in order to be ‘clean’ and appealing for sex.
The truth, however, is that douching isn’t only unnecessary, but potentially harmful too.
It’s unnecessary because the vagina is, in fact, a self-cleansing organ, so if you bathe regularly with clean water, this is sufficient. And it’s potentially harmful because the vagina is home to an intricate balance of good bacteria, all of which work in complex ways with each other to help sustain good reproductive health and protect you against infection and disease.
Here’s what can go wrong when you douche, even occasionally.
4 reasons you need to stop douching right now
1. Douching may increase your risk of chlamydia
One of the most common STIs, chlamydia has been found to be much more prevalent in women who douche, even only occasionally. According to researchers at the University of Washington, women who douched even once in the previous year had double the risk of chlamydia infection than those who never douched, and women who douched weekly faced almost quadruple the risk.
2. You may face greater risk of disorders like pelvic inflammatory disease
When you douche, you push unhealthy bacteria further up into the uterus and fallopian tubes, instead of allowing your body to naturally discharge them. This can lead to a range of complications and diseases, including pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and ectopic pregnancy.
3. It can cause yeast infections
Frequent douching has been linked with a significantly greater risk of thrush, or yeast infections, accordingly to Italian researchers.
4. It can increase your risk of cervical cancer
Cervical cancer is one of the most common and deadly types of the disease – but fortunately, it’s also highly preventable. According to US military researchers, women who douched more than once a week faced four times the risk of cervical cancer than women who didn’t. Remember: early detection is the key to prevention and effective treatment, and regular pap smears can help you to identify an early risk of cervical cancer.
Bottom line: never douche. There’s nothing beneficial it brings to your body, but plenty of risks that it does.
Questions or concerns about your reproductive health? Marie Stopes can help
At Marie Stopes, we provide a wide range of women’s wellness services focused on sexual and reproductive health. Whether you’re concerned about a smell, a discharge, a set of symptoms or anything else to do with your reproductive system, we can help in a caring and confidential environment.