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Is Douching Recommended?

Vaginal Hygiene


Updated May 29, 2014

Douching is the act of washing or cleaning out the vagina with water and other ingredients. While the practice is not recommended by most doctors, some women chose to use douches. Typically, a pre-made mixture is bought in a plastic bottle with a nozzle that can be squirted into the vagina. You’ve probably seen the variety of vaginal douche products for sale at your local drug store. You can buy vaginal douches in an array of scents, in pretty boxes designed to entice you into buying them. The companies that make vaginal douches make millions of dollars every year from women who use their products.

Vaginal douches usually contain water with vinegar, or some type of fragrance. You squirt the douche fluid into your vagina to wash it out. Some women like to use vaginal douches after their periods to feel clean inside. Other women use vaginal douches after sexual intercourse. But do we really need to use vaginal douches? Do women need to douche to clean themselves out after menstruation or sexual intercourse?

The answer to these questions is simply, “No.” Women don’t need to use vaginal douches at any time. In fact, doctors don’t recommend using vaginal douches. The vagina cleans itself –- naturally -– with no products required. Natural fluids in the vagina keep the inside of the vagina fresh and clean.

Vaginal douches are not the only unnecessary feminine hygiene product on the drug store shelf. You can leave most of the other feminine hygiene products including sprays, powders, and soaps on your drug store shelf, as well.

The truth is that some of these products, particularly vaginal douches, may be harmful to your health. Vaginal douching increases the risk of developing a serious infection by upsetting the balance of the naturally occurring vaginal substances that keep the vagina healthy. All that’s needed to clean the outside of your vagina is a warm bath or shower with gentle, preferably unscented, bath soap.

Maybe, you’ve heard you can prevent pregnancy by douching after sex –- you can’t. Vaginal douching is not an effective means of contraception. What's more, vaginal douching after sex does not prevent or protect against sexually transmitted diseases or STDs. In fact, trying to use a vaginal douche as a method of birth control or to prevent STDs may have the opposite affect and actually increase the risk of pregnancy or getting a STD or other vaginal infection by pushing sperm or bacteria further up into the reproductive tract.

See: Vaginal Symptoms of Infections


Do you need to douche?; GirlsHealth.gov; http://www.girlshealth.gov/body/hygiene_douche.htm; accessed 09/10/07.

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