Side effects of vaginal douching on a woman’s health

Washing and drying the genital areas thoroughly can be hygienic, but choosing vaginal douching for it can be harmful.

When your pubic hair grows out, you follow a gentle cleansing routine, so that you can tackle sweating and infections. It also helps to eliminate dirt and all kinds of bacteria. In order to keep the vagina clean, many women use douching as a way to get that done. It’s because the idea of ​​vaginal douching seems like a go-to solution to help solve the problem.

What is douching you ask?

The idea is to cleanse or ‘wash out’ the vagina and is a quick first step to a vaginal detox.

Dr Parul Sathe, consultant – obstetrician and gynecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Mumbai, tells HealthShots, “Vaginal douching can be termed as washing the vagina with water or a mixture of fluids in order to eliminate the odors and thoroughly clean the vagina. Most of the time, vinegar is used with the water. Many times, women also use baking soda or iodine to clean the vagina. Some end up using antiseptics and fragrances. But this practice can give a tough time to your vagina and invite a plethora of problems down there.”

vaginal douching
Vulvar and vaginal care is important. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
So should you douche to clean your vagina?

Well ladies, douching is the most common mistake women make when it comes to maintaining vaginal hygiene. You think you might be keeping it clean, but you are disturbing the entire biome of your vagina by killing the good bacteria. If you are douching and using vaginal washes on a regular basis, there are high chances that your pH level is disrupted, and that will ultimately lead to a burning sensation.

Dr Sathe listed below the disadvantages of douching:
1. Infections

The vagina is a self-cleaning organ. Hence, douching can be harmful to the vagina. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an infection of the vagina that can happen due to a change in the normal balance of vaginal bacteria. It is commonly seen because of douching.

2. Vaginal thrush

It is also a common occurrence owing to the overgrowth of Candida albicans yeast. It can strike-in due to douching.

3. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

It is an infection of the female reproductive organs. It is seen due to sexually transmitted bacteria spread from your vagina to the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries.

4. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Douching raises the risk of STIs, which furthermore steals your peace of mind. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are some of the STIs that can take a toll on a woman’s reproductive system.

5. Vaginal dryness

Douching tends to alter the natural mucus that is there on the wall of the vagina, causing dryness.

vaginal douching
Vaginal itching could be a symptom of vaginal dryness. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
6. Human papillomavirus (HPV)

This is a viral infection due to douching that is passed between people through skin-to-skin contact.

7. Cervicitis

Is seen when the cervix gets irritated or inflamed, leading to itching, pain, and vaginal discharge.

Douching is always prohibited, whether your vaginal flora is disrupted or not.

Do you know that your vagina is self-cleaning?

Yes, it’s true. That’s why it is important not to put anything in the vagina. Steer clear of douching, scrubbing inside, or using any kind of scented products as the vagina is a self-cleansing organ and these techniques only make you more vulnerable to infection. Experts suggest using soap and water is enough to keep the vagina fresh and hygienic. You don’t need anything else.

Also, while washing your vagina you need to be careful about the technique. You need to clean your vagina from front to back and not the other way round. That’s because if you do it the other way round, the bacteria from your anal area can enter your vagina. So, be cautious!

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So what are the alternatives to douching?
1. Personal hygiene

Keep the vagina clean by washing it with water. You can use a chemical-free soap after consulting the doctor. Do not use any other mixture like baking soda as well. If at all you are using any products down there then just consult the doctor and then only use them, suggests Dr Sathe.

2. Clothing

Use cotton underwear that is not too tight. Avoid fabrics such as satin, silk, and polyester that restrict airflow and tend to encourage bacteria to grow. Also, avoid wearing tight clothes.

3. Drying

Dr Sathe says, “It is essential to dry the vagina and surrounding area carefully and thoroughly to avoid too much moisture, which causes infection and odor.”

So ladies, douching the vagina is a no-no!

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