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Douching

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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  • the word "douche" means to wash or soak in French
    • douching is washing or cleaning out the vagina with water or other mixtures of fluids. Usually douches are prepackaged mixes of water and vinegar, baking soda, or iodine
      • the mixtures usually come in a bottle and can be squirted into the vagina through a tube or nozzle
    • vaginal douching has been practiced by women for many years as a means of 'cleansing' the vagina (1)
      • women in different parts of the world gave similar reasons for their varied douching practices. The most common reasons are:
        • to enhance sexual experience through sensations of vaginal dryness, tightness, or warmth;
        • to cleanse the vagina before, after, or between acts of intercourse;
        • to treat gynecologic diseases;
        • to prevent sexually transmitted infections;
        • and to restore and tighten the vagina after delivery (2)
      • vaginal douching and a woman's gynecological health
        • douching has been shown to increase risk of cervicitis, and endometritis, upper genital tract infection, ectopic pregnancy and premature or low-birth weight delivery, and infertility (3)
        • douching also may increase the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STI), human immunodeficiency virus, and pelvic inflammatory disease and bacterial vaginosis (3)
      • in spite of these negative consequences, women continue to douche. Some studies have found that 15.5% of 15-19-year-olds and 28% of 20-24-year-olds douche (4)
      • overall, the evidence suggests that douching should be discouraged as there are no proven health benefits (5)

Reference:

  • 1) Kirchner JT. Prevalence of vaginal douching despite its adverse effects. Am Family Physician 2000; 61: 849-851
  • 2) Brown JE, Brown RC. Traditional intravaginal practices and the heterosexual transmission of disease. Sex Trasm Dis 2000; 27: 183-187
  • 3) Short MB et al. Discussions of Vaginal Douching with Family Members Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology 2009.
  • 4) Abma JC et al. Fertility, family planning, and women's health: New data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth. Vital Health Stat 1997;19 (23): 1
  • 5) FSRH and BASHH Guidance (February 2012) Management of Vaginal Discharge in Non-Genitourinary Medicine Settings.

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