Disease: Vaginal Douche
(Douching)

    What is douching?

    The French word "douche" translate to mean "wash," or "soak." It means washing or cleaning out the vagina (birth canal) with water or other mixtures of fluids. Most douches are prepackaged mixes of water and vinegar, baking soda, or iodine. You can buy these products at drug and grocery stores. The mixtures usually come in a bottle and can be squirted into the vagina through a tube or nozzle.

    Why do women douche?

    Women douche because they mistakenly believe it gives many benefits. Women who douche say they do it to:

    • Clean the vagina
    • Rinse away blood after monthly periods
    • Get rid of odor
    • Avoid sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
    • Prevent pregnancy

    How common is douching?

    Douching is common among women in the United States. It's estimated that 20 to 40 percent of American women 15 to 44 years old douche regularly. About half of these women douche each week. Higher rates of douching are seen in teens, African-American women, and Hispanic women.

    Is douching safe?

    The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) as well as most physicians recommend that women avoid the practice. Douching can change the delicate balance of vaginal flora (organisms that live in the vagina) and acidity in a healthy vagina. One way to look at it is in a healthy vagina there are both good and bad bacteria. A balance of the level of bacteria types helps maintain an acidic environment. Any changes can cause an overgrowth of bad bacteria which can lead to a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. Plus, if you have a vaginal infection, douching can push the bacteria causing the infection further up into the uterus, fallopian (fuh-LOH-pee-uhn) tubes, and ovaries.

    What are the dangers linked to douching?

    Research shows that women who douche regularly have more health problems than women who do not. Doctors are still unsure whether douching causes these problems. Douching may simply be more common in groups of women who tend to have these issues. Health problems linked to douching include:

    • Vaginal irritation
    • Bacterial vaginosis (vaj-uh-NOH-suhs) (BV)
    • STIs
    • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

    Some STIs, BV, and PID can all lead to serious problems during pregnancy. These include infection in the baby, problems with labor, and early delivery.

    Should I douche to clean inside my vagina?

    No. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests women avoid douching completely. In most cases the vagina's acidic environment self-cleans the vagina. If there is a strong odor or irritation it usually means something is wrong. Douching can increase your chances of infection. The only time you should douche is when your doctor tells you to.

    What is the best way to clean my vagina?

    Most doctors say it's best to let your vagina clean itself. This occurs naturally when it produces mucous. The mucous washes away blood, semen, and vaginal discharge. You should know that even healthy, clean vaginas may have a mild odor.

    Keep the outside of your vagina clean and healthy by washing regularly with warm water and mild soap when you bathe. You should also avoid scented tampons, pads, powders, and sprays. These products may increase your chances of getting a vaginal infection and irritation.

    Should I douche to get rid of vaginal discharge, pain, itching, or burning?

    No. You should never douche to try to get rid of vaginal odor, discharge, pain, itching, or burning. Douching will only cover up odor and make other problems worse. It's very important to call your doctor right away if you have:

    • Vaginal discharge that smells bad
    • Thick, white, or yellowish-green discharge with or without an odor
    • Burning, redness, and swelling in or around the vagina
    • Pain when urinating
    • Pain or discomfort during sex
    • Significant bleeding other than menstrual

    These may be signs of an infection, especially one that may be sexually transmitted. Do not douche before seeing your doctor. This can make it hard for the doctor to figure out what's wrong.

    Can douching after sex prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?

    No. It's a myth that douching after sex can prevent STIs. The only sure way to prevent STIs is to not have sex. If you do have sex, the best way to prevent STIs is to use a condome and practice safer sex:

    • Be faithful. Have sex with only one partner who has been tested for STIs and is not infected.
    • Use latex or female condoms every time you have sex.
    • Avoid contact with semen, blood, vaginal fluids, and sores on your partner's genitals.

    Can douching after sex stop me from getting pregnant?

    No. Douching does not prevent pregnancy. It should never be used for birth control.

    What are the dangers linked to douching?

    Research shows that women who douche regularly have more health problems than women who do not. Doctors are still unsure whether douching causes these problems. Douching may simply be more common in groups of women who tend to have these issues. Health problems linked to douching include:

    • Vaginal irritation
    • Bacterial vaginosis (vaj-uh-NOH-suhs) (BV)
    • STIs
    • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

    Some STIs, BV, and PID can all lead to serious problems during pregnancy. These include infection in the baby, problems with labor, and early delivery.

    Should I douche to clean inside my vagina?

    No. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests women avoid douching completely. In most cases the vagina's acidic environment self-cleans the vagina. If there is a strong odor or irritation it usually means something is wrong. Douching can increase your chances of infection. The only time you should douche is when your doctor tells you to.

    What is the best way to clean my vagina?

    Most doctors say it's best to let your vagina clean itself. This occurs naturally when it produces mucous. The mucous washes away blood, semen, and vaginal discharge. You should know that even healthy, clean vaginas may have a mild odor.

    Keep the outside of your vagina clean and healthy by washing regularly with warm water and mild soap when you bathe. You should also avoid scented tampons, pads, powders, and sprays. These products may increase your chances of getting a vaginal infection and irritation.

    Should I douche to get rid of vaginal discharge, pain, itching, or burning?

    No. You should never douche to try to get rid of vaginal odor, discharge, pain, itching, or burning. Douching will only cover up odor and make other problems worse. It's very important to call your doctor right away if you have:

    • Vaginal discharge that smells bad
    • Thick, white, or yellowish-green discharge with or without an odor
    • Burning, redness, and swelling in or around the vagina
    • Pain when urinating
    • Pain or discomfort during sex
    • Significant bleeding other than menstrual

    These may be signs of an infection, especially one that may be sexually transmitted. Do not douche before seeing your doctor. This can make it hard for the doctor to figure out what's wrong.

    Can douching after sex prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?

    No. It's a myth that douching after sex can prevent STIs. The only sure way to prevent STIs is to not have sex. If you do have sex, the best way to prevent STIs is to use a condome and practice safer sex:

    • Be faithful. Have sex with only one partner who has been tested for STIs and is not infected.
    • Use latex or female condoms every time you have sex.
    • Avoid contact with semen, blood, vaginal fluids, and sores on your partner's genitals.

    Can douching after sex stop me from getting pregnant?

    No. Douching does not prevent pregnancy. It should never be used for birth control.

    Source: http://www.rxlist.com

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