What is Vaginal Douching?
Vaginal douching is the practice of washing the vaginal canal with fluid – this may come in the form of a bottle or bag of water or various over-the-counter or self-concocted mixtures of fluid- which is squirted up into the vaginal canal. The fluid then comes back out of the vaginal entrance.
Most women who practice vaginal douching do so because of hygiene or health concerns. Common reasons for douching include wanting to keep the vaginal canal clean or trying to get rid of bad vaginal odour or abnormal vaginal discharge.
Is Vaginal Douching Recommended?
To put an end to the confusion regarding the practice of douching: douching is not medically recommended.
The vaginal canal is a self-cleaning organ. There are various glands in the walls of the vagina which produce fluids responsible for maintaining the natural balance in the vaginal environment. The vagina also has naturally occurred “good” bacterial flora which is important for your vaginal health. You do not need additional external chemicals or water to “wash” or cleanse the vagina.
What are the Consequences of Douching?
In fact, the practice of douching can give rise to more health problems and do more harm than good. Douching may disrupt the delicate, natural balance of the vaginal flora, leading to an increased risk of common vaginal infections like yeast or bacterial vaginosis. These may manifest as abnormal vaginal discharge, vaginal itching, or a bad odour. In the setting of a pre-existing sexually transmitted infection (STI), douching may potentially increase the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, where the infection spreads to the uterus (womb), or the fallopian tubes and ovaries. Furthermore, douching can also result in irritation of the skin both in and around the vaginal canal, particularly if one is sensitive to the chemicals or components of the douche.
How Can One Get Rid of Vaginal Odour or Abnormal Discharge?
Vaginal odour or discharge is usually due to an underlying vaginal infection and it is best that you see a doctor for appropriate testing and treatment. With treatment of the underlying offending organism, you can also expect that the abnormal discharge and odour will resolve.
In terms of hygiene, washing externally with warm water or a gentle, non-scented cleanser will suffice. There is absolutely no need to worry about washing or cleaning the vaginal canal itself.
Misconceptions About Vaginal Douching
Some women may persist with douching because of certain misconceptions they have. Vaginal douching does NOT – prevent pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse. Vaginal douching also does NOT prevent or reduce the spread of STIs from intercourse.
Instead, you should ensure you have safe sexual practices, such as the use of barrier protection, regular STI checks, and having a regular partner whose infection status you are aware of. If you are not planning to conceive, other reliable and safe forms of contraception are available and you can have a discussion with your doctor about these.
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