“Clara, I just found a proven way to get rid of vaginal smells and I thought I should share it with you,” Monalisa, the class entrepreneur, said while guarding an oddly-branded bottle. Clara wondered when Monalisa became a “health specialist” as she only ever sold jewellery and clothing items.
Douching: What it is
The word “douche” primarily means “to wash or soak.” Douching refers to cleaning out the inside of the vagina with water or a mixture of some fluids. Most of these “fluids” are sold in stores as branded mixtures of water and vinegar, iodine, or baking soda.
Females use the douche by placing it through a tube or nozzle into the vagina. Then, the washed-out liquid comes right back out.
Douching isn’t the same as washing the outside of your vagina. And while cleaning the outside of your vagina won’t harm you, douching could. That is why medical doctors discourage women from engaging in this activity.
Reasons for douching
Reasons women douche include removing smells, cleansing the vagina after menstruation or sex, and preventing or treating vaginal itching and discharge. Some even use it to prevent sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy. But does douching help achieve these? Let’s find out!
Douching and its health implications
Douching can interfere with the normal balance of the vagina’s pH (acidity) and flora (helpful bacteria naturally present in the vagina). When the amount of these bacteria, which help maintain the natural acidity of a healthy vagina, is altered, infections and irritation might occur.
Douching also causes harmful bacteria and yeast to grow. And if a woman already has a vaginal infection, douching can cause the infection to spread to the womb, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. This then leads to the inflammatory disease of the pelvis, which is a serious health issue.
Let us take a look at some health issues caused by douching:
1. Bacteria Vaginosis (BV)
It is a vaginal infection that results from an imbalance in the beneficial and harmful bacteria present in the vagina. Women who douche regularly are five times more likely to have this vaginal infection than women who don’t douche at all. Symptoms include itchiness, unusual discharge with odor, etc.
2. Problems during pregnancy
Habitual douching before pregnancy can increase the risk of premature birth or ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the womb. In this situation, this egg will not survive outside the womb and, if left to grow, may damage some of the mother’s reproductive organs and cause life-threatening blood loss.
3. STIs (sexually transmitted infections), including HIV/AIDs
Douching causes the inner walls of the vagina to slough off and thus increases the lady’s susceptibility to the virus when she engages in sexual intercourse with a person infected with HIV.
4. Vaginal irritation or dryness
Douching may remove the mucus in the vagina. This mucus helps lubricate the vagina walls and keeps them from drying out. Also, eliminating helpful bacteria that could help protect against germs could make a female feel irritated down there.
5. Pelvic inflammatory disease
This describes the spread of bugs from the vagina to other parts of the reproductive tract of a woman, including the womb, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. As mentioned earlier, females who douche have a higher susceptibility to HIV and other STIs, which increase the chances of pelvic inflammatory disease.
Douching has no health benefits and will only cause more harm than good. The vagina has a natural scent and cleansing mechanism, so you shouldn’t feel self-conscious about it that you resort to douching. And no, douching doesn’t prevent or treat itching, discharge, STIs, or pregnancy.