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Douching May Increase Infertility Risk!

Douching May Increase Infertility Risk!

Teach your friends about the increased risk of infertility due to regular douching!

Are you thinking of learning how to douche? Maybe you should think again! Vaginal douching may increase a woman’s risk of infertility. Vaginal douching or irrigation is the practice of using a specially-designed instrument to force water or other solutions into the vaginal cavity, with the intent to cleanse it out. Women have used vaginal douches for hundreds of years. They are marketed and sold as an over-the-counter remedy for personal hygiene. Vaginal douching is still a common practice among some populations of women. Women have been told that douching is a healthy practice, that it will reduce vaginal infections, reduce vaginal odor, and decrease your chances of pregnancy. What women might not know though is that vaginal douching increases your risk for bacterial infections, yeast infection, STD’s, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)m and cervical cancer.

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 showing 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 off 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 microorganisms like candida, which is responsible for yeast infection, or bacteria responsible for bacterial vaginosis (BV). Lactobacilli also adhere to epithelial cells, blocking and protecting them from harmful pathogens. The hydrogen peroxide also prevents 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 1 or more times a week have a higher incidence of endometriosis, bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, STDs, and PID. As we all know, both endometriosis and PID may lead to blocked fallopian tubes, increasing the risk of ectopic pregnancy and infertility. While vaginal douching is not the cause of these, it may increase the likelihood 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 shown that when douching is relied upon as a contraceptive, it only reduces your chances of getting pregnant 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 Flora

If you are concerned about your health and fertility, there are many ways to naturally support your vaginal health.

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, such as what is in the solution and what are the scientific benefits.


Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

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  1. Update 2014 – We are back! We have been away for a while and we sure have missed all of your wonderful questions and thoughts on our articles. Moving forward, one of our staff herbalists will be here to respond to comments! We look forward to connecting with our readers once again!

  2. Avatar

    can douching tighten one’s vagina during sexual intercourse?

  3. Avatar

    Hi Dalene & Hethir,

    I am 39 years old, married for ten years with issue. ive had these infection for years kept treating but keep on coming back, right now ive been told i have tubal blockage. since 1997 ive been using hot water and salt to wash my vigina when ever i have itching and this itching kept on coming back until a year ago when a Doctor told me that it was douching and that i should stop. please need your help what do i do?


  4. I’m 36 years old. I’ve near about 12 million count in my semen. Due to low sperm count I cannot help my Mrs.
    i treat my health see my doctor and now I’m joining regular in yoga.
    have u solutions for me?