Health

What Is A Vaginal Douche? What Are The Harms?

Vaginal douching is an ancient and traditional practice in which women apply liquid into the vagina using a finger or a material for cleaning or treatment purposes. Vaginal douching, which is common among women, is affected by age, ethnicity, education level and socioeconomic status.

Women do vaginal douching to feel clean, to get rid of odor, to prevent pregnancy and because of their beliefs. Vaginal douching has gynecological consequences such as pelvic inflammatory disease, increase in vaginal infections, and obstetric consequences such as ectopic pregnancy, preterm labor, low birth weight baby and infertility.

Although there is limited data on vaginal douching, it has been suggested to be common in some groups or cultures. It is reported that the vaginal douche is practiced in Arabia, Middle, East and West Africa, Haiti, Indonesia, Dominican People’s Republic, Thailand, and America.

Vaginal Douching

How Common Is Vaginal Douching?

Vaginal douche is the process of cleaning the vagina by spraying pure water, carbonated water, vinegar water, gel or different cleaning liquids with the help of an apparatus on the inner part of the vagina.

This procedure is generally performed with enema apparatus specially designed to clean the vagina. With this apparatus, a liquid solution consisting of a mixture of vinegar and water is applied using antiseptic and scented cleaning solutions.

Although the vaginal douching is widely used and has some benefits, it is not a practice recommended by experts. In fact, according to most experts, vaginal douching does more harm than good. Because the vagina is a structure that naturally cleans itself with mucus secretion.

The vagina is an organ containing muscle tissue that extends from the vulva, from the outside of the female genital area, to the cervix. There are various factors that affect the health of the vagina, and they are as follows:

  • Unprotected sex can cause a sexually transmitted infection
  • Forced sexual intercourse or an injury to the pelvic region can cause vaginal trauma
  • Conditions such as endometriosis (chocolate cyst) and pelvic inflammatory (reproductive organ infection) diseases can cause painful sex
  • Scarring from surgery in the pelvic area (the part where the reproductive organs are located) and certain cancer treatments can also cause painful intercourse.
  • The use of deodorant, spray, foam and vaginal douche in the vagina can cause irritation, while at the same time increasing the severity of the existing irritation.
  • Some antibiotics used can develop vaginal yeast infections.
  • Contraceptive methods such as condoms and spirals can sometimes cause vaginal irritation.
  • Vaginal tears or surgical incisions may be required during childbirth. It may also reduce the muscle tone in the vagina and cause complaints.
  • Anxiety and depression can cause low levels of arousal and consequent discomfort or pain during intercourse.
  • Trauma, such as sexual harassment or painful sexual experience, can cause pain during sexual intercourse in the later period.
  • Changes in hormone levels can affect the vagina. For example, estrogen production decreases after menopause and during breastfeeding.
  • Loss of estrogen can cause thinning of the vaginal lining (vaginal atrophy), making intercourse painful.

Why Do Vaginal Douche?

While this process is done for medical or hygienic reasons, these reasons can be listed as follows:

  • Rinsing off the remaining menstrual blood at the end of the menstrual period
  • Avoiding pregnancy or STDs after sexual intercourse
  • Reducing vaginal odors
  • Feeling cleaner
  • Administering a recommended treatment for chronic yeast, fungal, or bacterial infections

How To Do A Vaginal Douche?

Vaginal douching means washing or cleaning the inside of the vagina with water or similar liquid mixtures. The necessary materials for the washing process are sold in health product stores or pharmacies as prepackaged water, vinegar, baking soda, iodine or special cleaning solutions. These materials are usually offered for sale as packaged in a bottle or bag.

Doing a vaginal douche is different from washing the outside of the vagina during a bath or shower. Washing the outside of the vagina with warm water does not hurt, but when the inside of the vagina is washed, it can cause many different health problems and therefore care should be taken.

The use of special apparatus developed for the vaginal washing process is as follows:

  • First of all, the hygienic top dressing (package) of the shower apparatus is removed and the apparatus is made ready for solution.
  • The solution is prepared according to the application information and poured into the apparatus.
  • Then the rubber part is pulled straight up until it clicks into place and a click is heard, when this click is heard the vaginal wash is ready to use.
  • In the sitting position on the toilet, the feet are spread out to both sides.
  • The rubber part is slowly inserted into the vagina no more than 1-1.5 cm and the mixture in the bottle is squeezed slowly.
  • The vaginal opening should not be closed during the procedure because the douche solution must flow freely from the vagina
  • After the mixture is squeezed until it is gone, the tool is slowly removed from the vagina and the vaginal washing process is completed.

The Harms Of Vaginal Douche

Vaginal flora are bacteria found in the vagina under normal conditions. This bacteria keeps the vagina healthy and prevents infection. However, the vagina can clean itself and maintain the correct pH balance without interference.

Douching can change the pH balance in the vagina, as it can remove the good bacteria in the vagina. This can lead to the growth of bad bacteria, infections, irritations and more serious complications. The harms of vaginal douching can be listed as follows:

  • Vaginal douching does not prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections
  • May increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.
  • Vaginal douching can increase the risk of getting an infection of the upper reproductive organs by 73%, an infection that affects the uterus, fallopian tubes (fertilization site), and ovaries.
  • Douching destroys the vaginal flora (the acidic environment of the vagina), thus making the vagina a more conducive environment for the bad bacteria that cause yeast infections.

Vaginal douching was recommended as a medical treatment in the past, but today it is known to disrupt the natural pH of the vagina. The vagina is an acidic environment with a natural pH level of 3.5 to 4.5. While this acidic environment is favorable for the healthy bacteria that naturally grow in the vagina, it is unfavorable for harmful bacteria that may try to enter.

Vaginal washing with vaginal cloths, soaps and perfumes available in the market increases the pH level of the vagina, making it difficult for the healthy flora of the vagina to survive.

Thus, harmful bacteria begin to develop and this high pH level caused by vaginal douching can cause some health problems. These health problems can be listed as follows:

  • Risk of vaginal dryness: Vaginal douching can increase or change the balance of the natural mucous membrane of the vaginal walls. For this reason, it can cause vaginal dryness.
  • Risk of deterioration of the flora: Bacterial vaginosis (impaired bacterial flora), a painful inflammation of the vaginal tissue, occurs when harmful bacteria develop in the vagina. The occurrence of this situation becomes more likely by washing the natural and healthy bacteria with a vaginal douche.
  • Sexually transmitted disease risk: Douching may increase this risk. Experts state that women who douche are more likely to develop a sexually transmitted disease. Because during vaginal washing, harmful bacteria that cause these infections can be sent further away from the reproductive system. It can also cause chlamydia (sexually transmitted disease) or gonorrhea, which is common in women and often occurs without any symptoms.
  • Risk of increasing ectopic pregnancy or infertility: women who do vaginal douche are also more likely to develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can cause long-term pain in the pelvic area and increase a woman’s chances of an ectopic pregnancy or infertility. Some research shows that a woman who regularly douches, even if she does not have PID, is at higher risk than women who do not.

Frequently Asked Questions About Vaginal Douche

Does the vaginal douche remove odor or other problems in the vagina?

Douching should not be applied to try to get rid of other vaginal problems such as odor, discharge, pain, itching or burning in the vagina.

This will only remove the odor for a short time, but can make other problems worse. However, when itching, smelly yellowish-green discharge occurs, a healthcare professional should be consulted.

There may also be burning, redness, swelling in or around the vagina, pain when urinating, and pain or discomfort during intercourse, signs of a vaginal infection or STI. Therefore, vaginal washing should not be performed without consulting a healthcare professional.

Can vaginal douching prevent pregnancy after sexual intercourse?

Even if the vaginal douche is done immediately after sexual intercourse, it can only give a feeling of cleanliness to the person, but it does not help to prevent pregnancy.

Showering or bathing after intercourse can help clear the semen from the vulva area, while vaginal washing can remove some of the semen from the vagina.

However, none of these can expel the sperm that have entered the uterus through the cervix. Studies show that douching is not an effective method of birth control.

Can vaginal douching cause vaginitis?

Vaginitis is inflammation of the vagina, and a vaginal douche can cause vaginitis. While this inflammation can be caused by yeast, bacteria or a Trichomonas infection (sexually transmitted disease), it can also be caused by non-infectious causes such as physical or chemical irritation.

Vaginal douching applications performed outside the recommendation of a specialist doctor may cause such problems.

I know you have a question about how to clean the vagina. This article will help you with that.

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