It is a widely held perception that the vaginal area of female body needs some kind of special cleaning; that the odor and the natural discharges somehow merit something more than regular cleaning.
For this reason, douching, a device used to direct a sharp stream of water into the body by route of the vagina became popular. In particular, this is seen to be a popular practice among African American women for cultural reasons.
There are many perceived reasons for douching that women offer, such as:
- Rinsing off of menstrual blood, clots and other discharge
- To prevent an unwanted pregnancy from occurring
- To reduce ‘down there’ or vaginal odor
- To reduce risk of STIs and STDs infections and diseases that are transmitted by sexual intercourse
- To feel that ‘fresh and clean’ feeling
- Because their mother did it and said to do it
- Because they are habituated to it
- Because the product manufacturers’ advertising has convinced them that is good and beneficial to douche.
However, research has shown that the vaginal area has a very effective self cleaning mechanism that does not require the kind of help that douching claims to provide.
Soap and water when used for showering is quite enough for maintaining hygiene and for that fresh feeling as well. Even as a means of birth control, it is not significantly effective. It is also seen to be ineffective as a means for controlling sexually transmitted disease and infection.
So not only are there no real reasons to douche, there are actually a lot of reasons why douching is not a good idea:
- The natural ph balance of the vagina and the acidic nature of the area can be disturbed by douching. Douching can cause irritation of the skin as well.
- It also interferes with the natural bacterial balance of the area, and can get rid of friendly bacteria, which are necessary to maintain good health in the area. So, in fact douching can actually increase the risk of infections.
- Douching, it is also thought, may be a contributing factor for infertility.
- Studies have also indicated that women who douched regularly were more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy, or low birth weight infants.
It is also to be kept in mind, that no matter how ‘safe’ or ‘natural’ a particular brand advertises itself to be, the risks that are associated with douching are the same; even if they are homemade douches that you use.