The Vagina and the Douche
A douche is a way of cleaning the inside of the vagina by squirting water (and other fluids like vinegar or antiseptics) inside to flush it out. You can find douche kits in pharmacies and many grocery stores, but really how useful are they? And should people be using them at all?
As a well learned vagina, I know that douching has been practiced for centuries; it reportedly goes back to the time of Hippocrates, when people didn’t know a whole lot about female anatomy and there weren’?t a lot of medications or antibiotics available. Douching was done then only when it was absolutely necessary to clean a really bad infection out of the poor little vagina. But for some reason, douching ended up becoming a fairly common practice among many groups of women who were worried about their vaginas (but who didn’t really understand them).
Today about 37% of women in the US douche and half of these use one at least once a week.
Women use douches in their vaginas for various reasons: to wash away menstrual blood, to try to get rid of perceived vaginal odours, to “feel clean”, and some even use it after sex as birth control and to avoid catching an STI (NB: a douche is NOT an effective contraceptive and will NOT protect you from infections).
Studies have shown that women who douche actually end up with more health problems than women who do not. For example, women who douche have a much greater chance (73+%) of getting PID, pelvic inflammatory disease, a bacterial infection in the reproductive organs; PID can lead to infertility, problems during pregnancy, and ectopic pregnancies (where the fetus starts growing in the fallopian tubes). Women who douche once a week are 83% more likely to contract cervical cancer.
Women who douche regularly are also more likely to suffer vaginal irritations, bacterial infections, and are actually MORE at risk for catching STI’?s (sexually transmitted infections). Plus, using a douche after sex is actually more likely to push sperm into the uterus, increasing your chances of pregnancy -? so much for using it as birth control.
A douche also won’t “cure” vaginal odours, if anything it might only mask them temporarily. A healthy vagina should have a slight musky odour (mmm yummy!) – it shouldn’t smell like flowers or rain! But if you do think that something is wrong with your smell, if your vagina smells fishy or pasty, then you should go see your doctor.
Doctors and nurses today understand us vaginas a lot better and advise against the use of a douche, though very rarely your doctor might still prescribe it to treat certain conditions.
Your vagina has a lot of important processes going on inside of it. There are friendly bacteria living in your vagina; these bacteria are very important and protect your vagina from other infections. The bacteria give off a natural form of hydrogen peroxide which keeps the pH of the vagina more acidic, this guards you from the invasion of other, more destructive bacteria. The friendly bacteria in your vagina also keep the yeast cells in your vagina under control. If the bacteria dies off (which can easily happen) the yeast cells can start to multiply, giving you a yeast infection.
Using a douche will wash out a lot of your friendly bacteria, screwing up the pH of your vagina and giving the yeast and infectious bacteria free reign. It also can abrade the delicate tissue of your vagina, causing irritations and making it easier for things like infectious bacteria and STI’s to get inside your bloodstream.
Your vagina doesn’t need a douche to keep itself clean; it does just fine on its own. It is constantly producing mucus and this mucus lining is constantly moving – your vagina is like a glacier! All day and night the mucus lining of your vagina slowly flows towards the outside, pulling with it anything else that might be inside: dead cells, semen, blood, and other tiny particles that may have gotten inside.
So in conclusion: you should not be using a douche after sex or under any circumstance, unless it’s prescribed by your doctor. Just let your vagina do its own thing and grab a box of tissues or a warm wash cloth for cleaning up externally after sex or whenever you are feeling less than fresh. We vaginas are smarter than you realize, so help us help keep you healthy and stay away from douching.