Douching is the act of cleaning the vagina by spraying it with water or other fluids. Many believe that this practice will get rid of bad odor and menstrual residue. It’s much different than a simple rinse around the vagina, though. (The latter doesn’t do any harm, and can be a part of a regular shower or wash.) However, about 1 in 4 American women ages 15 to 44 years douche. Popular products include prepackaged douches containing vinegar, iodine, and baking soda. These douches are made to be inserted into the vagina using a nozzle or tube.
Unfortunately, this can adversely impact the natural balance inside the vagina. From dryness to irritation, douching can cause problems that weren’t there in the first place. Douching doesn’t just flush out the good bacteria but can also help bad bacteria flourish, leading to conditions like a yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis. A healthy vagina needs certain levels of both bacteria, after all. And if you already have a bacterial infection? Douching can encourage the bacteria to move into the uterus, ovaries, and Fallopian tube. This can also cause an infection that can transform into pelvic inflammatory disease, a serious inflammation of the reproductive organs.
Needless to say, douching should be avoided for prime vaginal health. The vagina naturally cleanses itself by emitting discharge and mucus. And while it may be tempting to speed it up, the vagina is perfectly capable of handling it on its own.