Don’t (be a) Douche
What’s vaginal douching and why it’s bad for you - MP Edition 015
What is douching?
Vaginal douching is bad for you. Period. French for “wash”, douching is washing or cleaning out your vagina with just water or mixtures of water, vinegar, and sometimes antiseptics and fragrances. Douching is done by rinsing your vagina with the liquid or shooting it at high pressure into your vagina.
Once upon a time, douching was extremely common and that was largely due to brands playing on women’s fears of smelling down there. It’s less common now, but there are still many women who say they douche, and the reasons range from getting rid of unpleasant odors, washing away menstrual blood, avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, or preventing pregnancy after sex.
What is douching?
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again - your vagina is a powerhouse. It’s self-cleaning and doesn’t need any additional help.
Let’s break it down: Your vagina has a delicate balance of good and bad bacteria that forms an acidic environment to protect the vagina from infections or irritations. Douching throws off the pH balance of your vagina and kills the normal, healthy bacteria, leaving the bad bacteria to run rampant and multiply like crazy.
So rather than cleansing, douching makes it easier for infections like bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections to develop, both of which are common causes of abnormal smells. So ironically, the more you try to clean your vagina, the worse you’ll make the smell.
Plus if you already have a vaginal infection, douching can push the bacteria further up into the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries, making your infection worse.
But remember - douching is internal. Externally, you should clean your vulva with a gentle cleanser to keep fresh.
What are the side effects of douching?
In addition to vaginal infections, douching can lead to many health problems such as:
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): An infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and/or ovaries.
Difficulty getting pregnant
Cervical cancer: Douching can potentially increase your chances of developing cervical cancer.
STIs: Micro-tears in your vagina from douching provide openings for bacteria to enter.
Endometriosis: This is when the tissue that usually grows inside your uterus starts to grow outside of it.
Now if you’re thinking but how do I get rid of odors and keep my area down there smelling fresh? First of all, it’s important to note that vaginas naturally have a smell which is perfectly healthy and normal. Sometimes it even changes slightly when you’re on your period, eating certain foods like garlic or tuna, or sweating a lot.
What’s not normal is a significant change in odor. In that case, douching is still not the solution because changes in odor typically means there’s a problem and masking it with perfumes or douching will only make it worse. If you notice your vagina smelling a little off, consult a doctor as it can indicate something more serious, like an infection.
What can I use instead of douching?
Like we said, your vagina is self-cleaning - it doesn’t need much maintenance. Your vagina cleans itself naturally by producing mucus, which then washes away any blood, semen, or vaginal discharge.
So don’t douche but you can keep your vagina healthy and happy by:
Taking care of the outside of your vagina (vulva) with a gentle cleanser, toner, lotion at home and wipes while you’re on the go
Avoiding scented tampons and pads which will only irritate your vagina.
And that’s it, your vagina’s very low maintenance - thanks Mother Nature!