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Vaginal Douching - How Does It Affect You?

Dr. Asha Khatri 88% (4249 ratings)
MD - Obstetrtics & Gynaecology
Gynaecologist, Mumbai  •  41 years experience
Vaginal Douching -  How Does It Affect You?

Like many systems within the human body, the reproductive system is also a self maintaining one and performs many complex functions on its own. The female reproductive system is one such system and within it, the vagina is an especially good example. It is a self contained system wherein, the balance of the vaginal bacteria is maintained for proper health.

Douching
Douching is a process that involves the cleaning out or washing of an internal cavity of a body, such as the anus or the vagina with the help of water and special nozzles. Vaginal douching has become prevalent among women, mostly due to aggressive marketing campaigns which claim that it helps to keep the vagina clean. It is estimated that in developed nations, one in four women perform douching regularly.

Is it any good?
Vaginal douching has been reviled by most medical professionals around the world. The consensus is that not only does vaginal douching have no benefits; it may also be harmful for your vagina in general. The vagina is an ecosystem wherein multiple types of organisms thrive, including bacteria and fungi. These organisms keep each other in check and maintain the health of the organ. These organisms help maintain the pH Levels (the alkaline to acidic radio) within the vagina. Douching may actually disrupt the balance and cause harm by destroying one type of micro-organisms and letting the other proliferate, thus causing infections and other problems.

Problems caused by vaginal douching
Douches, especially the ones found in the market, contain elements such as iodine, baking soda, vinegar and other chemicals that can make the delicate vaginal balance go haywire. Some of the disorders that can be caused by it are mentioned as follows:

  1. Yeast infections: This is due to the proliferation of the fungi known as ‘candida’ within the vagina. This fungus is present within the vagina, but douching can reduce the bacteria that counteract it, resulting in rapid growth. This is one of the most common infections of the vagina.
  2. Bacterial vaginosis: Similar to how yeast infections occur, in this case, harmful bacteria proliferate within the vagina. This is also a common vaginal infection and douching has been deemed as one of the leading causes for it.
  3. Pelvic inflammatory diseases: Douching pushes the bacteria of the vaginal canal into the cervix and the uterus, resulting in infections such as PID or pelvic inflammatory diseases (an infection in the reproductive organ in females).
  4. Pregnancy related problems: A myth has been floating around that if a woman performs douching after sexual intercourse, it will wash away the sperm and hence prevent her from getting pregnant. In fact, the reverse is true. Douching can often push the sperm up into the uterus causing pregnancy. Not only that, pregnancies caused in such a manner have higher chances of bearing complications such as ectopic pregnancies (a condition wherein the fertilized egg gets implanted outside one’s uterus), birth defects, etc.
  5. Irritation and vaginal dryness: Douching at the very least will result in the vagina turning dry as the natural mechanisms are disrupted. This results in irritation and itching.

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