There is lots of misleading information mistakenly touted as good, sound medical advice, but following this “advice” can be harmful or damaging to your health. Douching is one of those topics. This may be hard for some women to believe because there are douching products on the market available for sale. Regardless of their availability, douching can lead to serious health problems and should be avoided.
It Can Cause Bacteria to Grow
In case you weren’t aware, douching is when you wash or clean the inside of your vagina – either with water or a mixture of other fluids. Different from rinsing the outside of your vagina during a bath or shower, which is perfectly safe, douching can cause an overgrowth of bacteria to form – and the overabundance of this bacteria is harmful to you.
A healthy vagina has a balance of both “good” and “bad” bacteria. Douching can harm the acidity of your vagina, which can lead to yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis, a condition that causes a burning sensation during urination, thin white, gray, or green discharge, and a fishy smell that can get stronger after intercourse. Not only this, but if you already have an infection, douching can also push that harmful bacteria, causing problems in your uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries and this can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.
Douching Can Lead to These Health Conditions
Apart from yeast infections and pelvic inflammatory disease, the overgrowth of harmful bacteria may lead to reproductive health issues as well, such as:
- Endometriosis, a painful condition that causes the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus to grow outside of it, making pregnancy difficult, if not impossible, to achieve
- Preterm birth
- Low birth weight
- Ectopic pregnancy, a complication in which a fertilized egg implants and grows outside of the main cavity of the uterus, which can cause life-threatening bleeding to the mother if untreated
Douching also puts you at a higher risk for sexually transmitted infections such as HIV and vaginal irritation or dryness.
Your Body Has It Covered
To be honest, the best thing you can do for your vagina, besides rinsing off the outside of it when you’re in the bath or shower, is to let it take care of itself. A very careful balance of vaginal flora must be maintained in order to keep acidity high enough to stop infections, and it’s pretty good at achieving that balance on its own. Your vagina cleans itself naturally by producing mucous, which helps wash away anything that isn’t supposed to be inside of it. Besides douching, some other things to avoid are pads, powders, sprays, and tampons that are scented, which might increase your chances of a vaginal infection.
Dr. LeGendre is an OB/GYN specialist who cares for patients at Kelsey-Seybold’s Fort Bend Medical and Diagnostic Center and Sienna Plantation Clinic. She is an advocate for women’s health, assisting women at all stages of life with their OB/GYN needs.