Despite the millions of dollars women spend on douches each year, the practice has no proven health benefits and, in fact, can lead to serious reproductive problems. Douching affects the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the vagina. Repeated uses can cause the overgrowth of disease-causing organisms, leading to infection in the reproductive system.
When the natural mucous barrier protecting the cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes is destroyed, the organs practically invite infection, caused by bacteria and viruses. In addition, douching, as well as feminine deodorant sprays, can aggravate infections or mask them, making it difficult for doctors to make an accurate diagnosis.
Studies have found that douching:
- may reduce a 25- to 29-year-old’s chance of getting pregnant
- regularly increases a woman’s chance of having an ectopic pregnancy (when the fertilized egg attaches to the fallopian tube instead of the uterus, resulting in death of the fetus and complications for the mother)
- increases the risk of bacterial vaginosis, a common infection that can cause premature delivery
- increases the risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease
The vagina is a self-cleaning organ designed to “flush” out any abnormal substances. Instead of douching, experts advise women to stay “fresh” by bathing daily.