Can Douching Cause Vaginitis?
Vaginitis is inflammation of the vagina. Vaginitis can be caused by an infection with yeast, bacteria, or Trichomonas, but vaginitis also can be caused by non-infectious causes, for example, physical or chemical irritation such as:
- Douches, soaps, or fragrances
- Reduced estrogen levels around the time of menopause
What is vaginal douching?
Douching is the practice of washing or flushing the vagina with water or
other fluids. Vaginal douches are available as prepackaged mixes, most commonly
involving water mixed with vinegar, baking soda, or iodine. Douches are
available at pharmacies and supermarkets.
Is vaginal douching necessary?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends
that women avoid the practice of vaginal douching. Most physicians also do not
recommend douching. Douching can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the vagina
and can alter the normal pH of the vagina. Changes in the composition of the
bacteria that normally reside within the vagina can lead to an increased risk of
vaginal infections such as yeast infections. Douching can also cause the spread
of harmful bacteria further up into the reproductive tract if an infection is
already present in the vagina.
Women who douche state that they do so because they believe it offers health
benefits, such as cleaning the vagina, rinsing away blood after menstrual
periods, avoiding odor, and preventing pregnancy or infections. However, these
beliefs are false, and douching is not necessary to “clean” the vagina. Douching
also does not protect against pregnancy or against sexually-transmitted diseases
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/17/2016