The Dangers of Douching

The joys of motherhood are never fully experienced until all the children are in bed.
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The Dangers of Douching

In spite of all the forward-thinking articles in women’s magazines that cover just about every aspect of women’s bodies, there are still some common, but surprising beliefs and behaviors that are rarely discussed anywhere. One such behavior is douching.

The Dangers of Douching


The word “douche” means to soak or rinse in French. Douching is a washing or rinsing out of the vagina with water and other mixtures of fluids. Most douches are pre-prepared mixtures of water and baking soda, vinegar or iodine that can be purchased at drug and grocery stores. The mixture is squirted into the vagina using a tube or nozzle.

In the United States, a surprising number, almost 40%, of women between the ages of 18 and 44 are thought to douche regularly and about half of them douche as often as once per week.

Why Would a Woman Douche?

Women douche because of a mistaken belief that it is necessary or useful to:

  • clean the vagina
  • rinse away menstrual blood after monthly periods
  • prevent odor
  • prevent sexually transmitted disease
  • prevent pregnancy

These are all myths.

Is Douching Safe?

Douching is not safe. Nearly all doctors and American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommend that women do not douche. Your vagina houses a delicate balance of vaginal flora (organisms that live in the vagina) and acidity. A balance of good and bad bacteria helps maintain the acidic environment of a healthy vagina. Any disruption to that balance can lead to yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis.

If you develop pain, itching, burning odor, or other symptoms of an infection, do not douche in an attempt to get rid of the problem. Douching can push the infection further up into your body into to the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

Remember, your vagina cleans itself naturally by making mucous. This mucous washes away blood, semen, and vaginal discharge. Healthy, clean vaginas naturally have a mild odor.

Health problems linked to douching can include vaginal irritation, bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

In short, you should not douche. Talk with your AOA doctor if you have any questions, but trust your body’s own processes to maintain your vaginal health.

Learn more about the dangers of douching: