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All healthy women have bacteria and other organisms in the vagina. The balance of organisms and the normal acidity of the vagina both act to prevent overgrowth of specific organisms, leading to symptoms of a vaginal infection. Douching disturbs the normal environment of the vagina, which can lead to inflammation and further imbalance of the organisms normally present in the vaginal canal. This can result in symptoms such as chronic vaginal discharge and discomfort. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and most doctors recommend that women avoid douching unless specifically prescribed by a doctor. The body has a natural way of cleansing the vaginal canal by itself. Douching is not believed to have any health benefits and may actually worsen vaginal symptoms.
Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care
Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.
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Last Editorial Review: 7/20/2017