What is douching?
The French word "douche" translate to mean "wash," or "soak." It means washing or cleaning out the vagina (birth canal) with water or other mixtures of fluids. Most douches are prepackaged mixes of water and vinegar, baking soda, or iodine. You can buy these products at drug and grocery stores. The mixtures usually come in a bottle and can be squirted into the vagina through a tube or nozzle.
Why do women douche?
Women douche because they mistakenly believe it gives many benefits. Women who douche say they do it to:
- Clean the vagina
- Rinse away blood after monthly periods
- Get rid of odor
- Avoid sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Prevent pregnancy
How common is douching?
Douching is common among women in the United States. It's estimated that 20 to 40 percent of American women 15 to 44 years old douche regularly. About half of these women douche each week. Higher rates of douching are seen in teens, African-American women, and Hispanic women.
Is douching safe?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) as well as most physicians recommend that women avoid the practice. Douching can change the delicate balance of vaginal flora (organisms that live in the vagina) and acidity in a healthy vagina. One way to look at it is in a healthy vagina there are both good and bad bacteria. A balance of the level of bacteria types helps maintain an acidic environment. Any changes can cause an overgrowth of bad bacteria which can lead to a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. Plus, if you have a vaginal infection, douching can push the bacteria causing the infection further up into the uterus, fallopian (fuh-LOH-pee-uhn) tubes, and ovaries.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/19/2014
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