Vaginal Douche (Douching)

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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Can douching be harmful?

Yes, in some women, douching can lead to the spread of an infection or even the development of an infection by altering the balance of normal bacteria that are present in the vagina, as discussed previously. The risk of both bacterial vaginosis and sexually-transmitted diseases may be increased by douching. Douching can also cause vaginal irritation.

What is the best way to clean the vagina?

The vagina produces mucus, which acts as a natural cleansing agent to wash away blood, semen, and vaginal discharge. Washing the outside of the vagina with mild soap and water with regular bathing is sufficient for good hygiene.

Can douching help relieve vaginal discharge, odor, pain, itching, or burning?

An abnormal vaginal odor, discharge, or discomfort can signal the presence of an infection, so douching to relieve the symptom would only avoid the underlying problem and might even make the infection worse. If you have abnormal vaginal odor or discharge, pain, burning, or itching, it's important to see your health-care professional for diagnosis and treatment. Douching before the doctor's visit can make it more difficult to diagnose the problem and recommend the right therapy.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/17/2016
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