Douches have long been a hot topic when it comes to women’s health. So many women use it too, and for an arguably good reason. After all, isn’t a device that’s advertised as a cleaning tool supposed to be good for you? Plus, it almost sounds counterintuitive to say that douches can cause infections when they supposedly get rid of them.
So in this article, we’ll tell you just what exactly douches and vaginal douching are. You’ll also learn about seven surprising ways they affect your health, and why you shouldn’t even consider douching. Additionally, we’ll talk about the natural state of the vagina, how you can clean it properly, and when to see a doctor.
What Are Douches?
A douche is a device that allows you to squirt liquid into an orifice. Douches are usually made up of a soft bag with a thin elongated end where fluid comes out of. The user is supposed to squish the bag to allow a jet of liquid to pass through the long opening. Douches are traditionally used to clean internal body parts, like the rectum or the vaginal canal.
What Is Vaginal Douching?
Vaginal douching involves the use of douches to clean the vagina. It’s the actual canal that connects the opening, or the labia, to the rest of a woman’s reproductive system. A vaginal douche is used to supposedly clean that specific body part for reasons that haven’t been proven by science.
Why Do Women Use Douches?
Many women use douches mostly for personal hygiene. Society has led us to believe that scents dissimilar to flowers are considered unpleasant odors. That’s why women throughout history have tried numerous ways to get rid of their natural vaginal odor. Others use douches to clean themselves of menstrual blood during their period. Some women also use douches to prepare themselves before and to clean themselves after having sex with a partner.
The purpose obviously varies per individual, but it all boils down to the need to clean the vagina. However, you don’t need to wash or scrub your vaginal canal because it is self-cleaning. Your vagina is able to clean itself through its secretions that we commonly refer to as discharge. That fluid is natural and absolutely nothing to get scared of, unless it’s abnormal. But we’ll talk about that later in the article.
What Are The Common Misconceptions Regarding Vaginal Douching?
Women douche regularly, or even for special occasions, due to popular misconceptions surrounding the activity. This information spread due to verbal passage of tips through generations and articles not backed by science and medicine. Older magazines about women’s health also promote douching by citing what they dub as “unpleasant odors” of the vagina.
Douching gained traction because of the unfounded and unrealistic standards set for women. One of those is to have a vagina that smells fresh, flowery, and basically anything else other than how it’s supposed to be. But with all that popularity, no official research suggests that douching can give old and young women any benefit.
There are many misconceptions that surround douching. But the most harmful of them come in the form of benefits that haven’t been proven once. Here are some of the most common misconceptions about vaginal douching:
Removes Vaginal Odor And Bodily Fluids
Many believe that douching can remove vaginal odor, regardless of whether that scent is natural or from a disease. Aside from that, women also use douches to flush out menstrual blood and other fluids, like semen. However, you don’t need to use douches to remove those substances from your body. As we’ve mentioned before, the vagina is perfectly capable of cleaning itself.
Many women ask: can douching after sex prevent pregnancy? The answer is no. Douching is not a valid and safe form of contraception. It won’t prevent pregnancy, and it may even cause complications for you if you do end up pregnant.
Protects Against Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Another common misconception about douching is that it protects against sexually transmitted infections. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. You have to use a condom if you want to protect yourself from STIs when you have sex. One of the most common STIs is human papillomavirus, which can cause cervical cancer later on. In fact, HPV is the leading cause of more than 90% of cervical cancer cases in the United States.
Is It Safe To Use Douches?
The short answer is no, it’s not safe to use douches. To elaborate, douching can disturb your natural vaginal flora, or the bacteria that live inside your vagina. That includes both the harmful and healthy bacteria. When you douche, you flush out both types, leading you to disturb the natural balance in your vagina. Douching products are also often harsh cleansers that irritate the sensitive skin of your vaginal walls.
A woman who douches regularly becomes at risk of many health problems. Some of those are also capable of leading to more adverse outcomes, like cervical cancer. So, no, it’s not safe to use douches because of the heavy risks it comes with. Add the fact that you also won’t reap any kind of benefit from douching.
7 Surprising Ways Vaginal Douching Can Affect Your Health
As mentioned above, women who douche disturb the natural and healthy state of their vagina. That leaves them vulnerable to diseases and puts them at an increased risk of developing health problems. Basically, douches come with a host of negative impacts you wouldn’t want to experience. Here are seven of the many surprising ways vaginal douching can affect your health:
It Can Cause Vaginal Infections
Douching can lead to a wide variety of vaginal infections, like bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections. Both diseases can cause irritation, discomfort, intense itchiness, and foul-smelling discharge. Using a douche regularly can also make an existing vaginal infection worse, like recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis.
Most infections don’t just spread to other reproductive organs because they’re stopped by the cervix. It’s the extremely narrow canal between your uterus and vagina. However, the infection may still spread to your reproductive system if your cervix also becomes infected.
It Puts You At Risk Of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Vaginal douching can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease. It’s an infection of your upper reproductive system, which includes your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. Bacteria can spread to a woman’s reproductive organs, even without an STI, due to douching. That can lead to PID, which may result in abscesses and scar tissue. Additionally, the disease may cause permanent damage that may later on bring about ectopic pregnancy.
It Makes Way For Numerous Pregnancy Issues
As mentioned in the previous point, vaginal douching can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which may result in ectopic pregnancy. It’s a condition where a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus. If an egg implants in other areas like the fallopian tubes, the pregnancy cannot proceed.
Vaginal douching puts you at an increased risk to develop other pregnancy complications. One of those is early childbirth. Early childbirth, also called preterm birth, refers to when a baby is born before the completion of 37 pregnancy weeks. A baby born prematurely is at high risk of developing health problems, low birth weight, and other congenital diseases.
It Increases Your Chances Of Developing Cervicitis
Vaginal douching can cause cervicitis, or an infection of your cervix. When women douche, they become more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases, like chlamydia or gonorrhea. If left untreated, those STDs can spread harmful bacteria to your other reproductive organs too. Cervicitis often comes with vagina pain after sex, painful urination, and bleeding even when you’re not on your period.
It Allows The Spread Of Harmful Bacteria
Frequent vaginal douching removes both harmful and healthy bacteria alike. At first glance, that seems like a good thing. However, there’s a natural balance of bacterial presence that needs to be retained in your vagina. The absence of healthy bacteria allows the rapid and drastic spread of the harmful kind. That makes you more vulnerable to vaginal infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and even cervical cancer.
It Disturbs The Vaginal pH
Your vagina is a naturally acidic environment because of the healthy bacteria there. Frequent vaginal douching disturbs the pH in that environment. When that happens, bacterial growth becomes abnormal and it paves way for diseases. Some women often make a vaginal douche using water and baking soda thinking that it can make their vagina odor and bacteria free. However, douching will actually result in the exact opposite.
It Can Cause Feminine Odor Problems
The irony in using douching products is that they’re advertised as vaginal odor removers. However, when you douche regularly, that’s when you’re likely to develop feminine odor problems. Many women think their natural vaginal odor is problematic, but douching may result in an actual foul scent.
What’s The Natural State Of A Vagina?
A healthy natural vaginal odor may be characterized as “musky” or “fleshy”. The normal bacteria of your vaginal flora are responsible for that. Old and young women alike also need to know that the vagina isn’t supposed to smell sweet or flowery. In addition, don’t attempt to make your genitals smell like something apart from their natural odor.
Aside from the smell, you also naturally have vaginal discharge. It’s your reproductive system’s own way of cleaning itself, rendering douche products unnecessary.
What’s The Best Way For You To Clean Your Vagina?
The best way to clean the vagina is to allow it to clean itself. Instead, you can just focus on gently washing your vulva, or the outer parts of your reproductive system. Part the opening of your organ with light movements and wash it with water and a mild soap. You can also use feminine hygiene products that are not harsh on the skin. Make sure to clean all the outer areas gently, including the anus and the perineum, of the area between your anus and genitals.
You don’t need to wash the inside of your vagina. You just have to make sure you wash your external genitals regularly, and just a bit more often when you’re on your menstrual cycle. Additionally, make sure you pee after having sex to help flush germs out.
Don’t Use Vaginal Douches Even If You-
You shouldn’t use douches at all because of the associated risks and the many adverse outcomes that come with them. However, we recognize that there are special circumstances where you might feel like you need to. Still, you shouldn’t use douches even if you:
Were Sexually Assaulted
It may be extremely difficult not to shower, bathe, and douche, but you may wash away evidence if you do so. We fully support you if you went through this abuse, and we advise you to go to the nearest emergency room as soon as you can. You can also contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) for immediate assistance. They can help you find a hospital to assist you in preventing STIs and pregnancy, as well as evidence collection.
They can also help you get the support you need, both for your wellbeing and for legal purposes.
Had Sex And The Condom Broke
Vaginal douching won’t be able to suffice as an emergency contraception. If needed, you may consult with your women’s health provider to ask for safe options.
Experience The Symptoms Of A Sexually Transmitted Disease
Experiencing the symptoms of an STD may prompt you to douche to try and get rid of it. However, doing so will only mask the disease, but it won’t cure it. Douching may even exacerbate your condition, especially if it’s a severe case.
When Should You See An Obstet-Gynecol?
An obstet-gynecol, or a doctor of obstetrics and gynecology, is a women’s health physician. They focus on female reproductive health and things related to it, like pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
You should visit an obstet-gynecol if you experience anything out of the ordinary, like feminine odor problems. Other examples are vagina pain, sexually transmitted infections, abnormal discharge, vaginal irritation, or ectopic pregnancy detection. In addition, you can consult with them regarding feminine hygiene products, reproductive health, sexual medicine
However, you may schedule an appointment with an obstet-gynecol without any specific concern. They can help you learn about your reproductive organs, disease control, or even how to promote or prevent pregnancy. Pregnant women are also highly recommended to visit an obstet-gynecol regularly.
To Wrap Up
Vaginal douching causes numerous health problems and none of its purported benefits. Instead, it disturbs your vaginal flora and comes with a whole host of risks and complications. Your vagina has a natural odor that’s a bit musky, and there’s no reason to be ashamed of it. If you’re not sure whether you have a vaginal problem, it’s best to consult with an obstet-gynecol to make sure. They can perform tests for you to see the status of your reproductive health.
It’s always best to consult with your doctor first before you try anything new or unusual for your vagina. That way, you can ensure your safety and the legitimacy of whatever you’re going to try. Additionally, if someone shames you for your natural vaginal odor, stun them with science!
We wish a healthy vagina for you and all women!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)