- What Is It?
- Is It Necessary?
- Is It Safe?
- Cleaning the Vagina
- Vaginal Discharge
- Does It Prevent Pregnancy?
- Does It Prevent STDs?
- Effect on Fertility
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? Does it prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?
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 (STDs).
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.
Can douching after sex prevent pregnancy?
No, douching after sex does not prevent pregnancy and should never be used as a method of birth control.
Can douching after sex prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?
Douching after sex or at any time has no effect in preventing STDs.
Can douching affect fertility or pregnancy?
Some studies have shown that women who douche regularly take longer to become pregnant when trying to conceive than women who do not douche. Other research has shown that douching may damage the Fallopian tubes and lead to an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus).
In pregnant women, douching was shown in one study to increase the risk of preterm birth by a factor of 1.9.
Top Vaginal Douche (Douching) Related Articles
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)Bacterial vaginosis is an abnormal vaginal condition with signs and symptoms of vaginal discharge, vaginal odor, and vaginal pain. It results from an overgrowth of normal bacteria in the vagina.
Ectopic Pregnancy (Tubal Pregnancy)
An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy located outside the inner lining of the uterus. The majority of ectopic pregnancies occur in the Fallopian tube. Signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy may include abdominal pain, lack of menstrual period (amenorrhea), vaginal bleeding, fainting, dizziness, and low blood pressure.
Treatment options for an ectopic pregnancy include observation, medication, or surgery.
How Do I Get Rid Of Yellow Discharge?It is normal for women to have discharge throughout their monthly cycle. However, yellow discharge accompanied by a fishy smell may be a sign of a bacterial or sexually transmitted infection.
How Many Days Before a Period Do You Get Discharge?Vaginal discharge is a normal part of a woman's menstrual cycle. Learn about vaginal discharge before a period, how many days you get discharge before your period, signs and causes of vaginal discharge, and when to see a doctor if there's a problem. Vaginal discharge is the fluid secreted from the uterus, cervix (neck of the uterus) and vagina. A thick yellow vaginal discharge may point to vaginitis (infection of the vagina).
Is It Normal to Have Discharge After Sex?What is vaginal discharge? Learn the signs of vaginal discharge and what to do if you experience it.
LEEP (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure)Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) is a procedure used to remove abnormal tissues of the cervix. LEEP is used often to treat mild to moderate dysplasia. The effectiveness of LEEP is comparable to:
- cold knife conization,
- laser ablation,
- or laser conization.
What Does It Mean If I’m Having a Lot of Vaginal Discharge?It's normal for women to have some amount of vaginal discharge. Learn more about what it can mean if you have more vaginal discharge than usual or if your discharge has an unusual appearance.
Natural Birth ControlNatural methods of contraception are considered "natural" because they are non-mechanical and non-hormonal. Fertility awareness methods (FAMs) are based upon knowing when a woman ovulates each month. Natural methods of birth control include: the calendar rhythm, basal body temperature, mucus inspection, symptothermal, use of an ovulation indicator testing kit, withdrawal, lactational infertility, douching and urination, and abstinence.
Early Pregnancy Symptoms: Am I Pregnant?Pregnancy symptoms can vary from woman to woman, and not all women experience the same symptoms. When women do experience pregnancy symptoms they may include symptoms including missed menstrual period, mood changes, headaches, lower back pain, fatigue, nausea, breast tenderness, and heartburn. Signs and symptoms in late pregnancy include leg swelling and shortness of breath. Options for relief of pregnancy symptoms include exercise, diet, and other lifestyle changes.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the bladder, kidneys, ureters, or urethra. E. coli, a type of bacteria that lives in the bowel and near the anus, causes most UTIs. UTI symptoms include pain, abdominal pain, mild fever, urinary urgency, and frequency. Treatment involves a course of antibiotics.
Bladder Infections: UTI Causes, Symptoms, TreatmentsUrinary Tract Infections (UTI's) can happen to anyone. Learn about symptoms, causes and home remedy treatments for bladder and kidney infections in women, infants, and men.
Vagina PictureThe vagina is an elastic, muscular canal with a soft, flexible lining that provides lubrication and sensation. See a picture of the Vagina and learn more about the health topic.
Yeast Infection QuizHow much do you know about vaginal yeast infections? Learn the causes, symptoms, and treatments of a yeast infection with the Vaginal Yeast Infection Quiz.