In 2002, Oxford Journals published a study that cross examined massive amounts of studies weighing the risks vs. benefits of vaginal douching. Studies used for this research were identified through a computerized MEDLINE search of study records form 1965-2002. The purpose of this study was to find clear facts on the impact of vaginal douching to women’s health. Researchers were also curious as to why even though studies came out that showed evidence that douching may be more harmful than beneficial, vaginal douching was still a common practice among many populations of women.
Get the Facts Straight About Vaginal Douching
Vaginal douching has been proven through multiple studies to decrease natural vaginal flora, necessary for fighting off infection and maintaining vaginal health. Within the vagina are beneficial bacteria needed to fight of infection, these are called lactobacilli. Lactobacilli produce hydrogen peroxide which maintains the proper level of vaginal bacteria and works to protect the vagina from harmful foreign invaders. These foreign invaders may be in the form of other bacteria like candida which is responsible for yeast infection, or other bacteria responsible for bacterial vaginosis (BV). Lactobacilli also adhere to epithelial cells, blocking and protecting them from harmful pathogens. The hydrogen peroxide also prevent pathogens from attaching onto the epithelial cells, as well as stimulating the mucosal immune system.
There are many different liquid solution formulas sold for vaginal douching. These liquids strip away or kill healthy vaginal flora. Some vaginal douche products may force the liquid solution beyond the vaginal cavity, up through the cervix into the uterine cavity. Some women may be unknowingly infected with a bacterial infection, or STD which may spread the infection up into the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Studies show that women who douche more 1 or more times a week have a higher incidence of endometriosis, bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, STD’s and PID. As we all know, both endometriosis and PID may lead to blocked fallopian tubes, increased risk of ectopic pregnancy and infertility. While vaginal douching is not the cause of these, it may increase the likely hood of these diseases.
Increased Risk for Cervical Cancer
Because douching alters the vaginal chemical environment, leaving the vaginal walls and cervix susceptible to harmful pathogens, the risk for cervical cancer increases. Studies showed a link between women who douched more than 1 time a week to a higher incidence of cervical cancer cells.
Some women have been brought up to believe that vaginal douching cleanses the body of infections, but evidence shows that in fact it is the opposite.
Vaginal Douching is NOT a Reliable Source for Protection from Pregnancy
Studies have show that when douching is relied upon as a contraceptive, it only reduces you chances by 15%-25%. Do not rely upon douching to protect you from pregnancy!
Never Douche During Pregnancy
Across the board the consensus between all health care practitioners is that women should never douche during pregnancy. Douching increases risk of bacterial infection which may harm the pregnancy and the baby. Douching is also linked to low birth weight and preterm labor.
Ways to Support Natural Vaginal Health and FloraIf you are concerned about your health and fertility, there are many ways to naturally support your vaginal health.
-Eat a nutrient dense whole food diet, low in sugar
-Take a high quality probiotic supplement
-Avoid washing the vaginal area with harsh soaps and detergents
-Learn how to treat vaginal yeast infection naturally
-Use condoms with new sexual partners
-Get regular pap smears
-See your gynecologist if you notice a change in vaginal odor, itching, discharge
-Systemic Enzyme Therapy using Wobenzym N in combination with antibiotics for PID and STD infection
-Use natural feminine care products
-Women’s Best Friend herbal blend may support the body in healing infection within the reproductive organs
The research is clear, vaginal douching may do more harm than good. No matter what positive benefits you have been told about douching, there is really no medical reason or otherwise to do this. If your health care provider suggests you do this, ask them a lot of questions, what is in the solution and what are the scientific benefits.
1. Vaginal Douching: Evidence for Risks or Benefits to Women’s Health, Jenny L. Martino and Sten H. Vermund, Oxford Journals, Epidemiol Rev (2002) 24 (2): 109-124. doi: 10.1093/epirev/mxf004