Are douches a girls’ best friend? They’re often glorified as wonder products that can erase vaginal odors and even prevent pregnancy. But, it turns out that a lot of the hype is based on false information. Douching is actually risky and potentially harmful.
To, ahem, wash away some of the confusion, I’ve answered some of the most common questions people ask me on this topic:
What are douches and feminine washes?
Douches (also known as feminine washes) are vaginal rinses made with various mixtures. They are usually composed of water and vinegar, but they can also contain baking soda, iodine, and tea tree oil. Basically anything you mix to squirt up your vagina to clean or treat it is considered a douche.
Is douching a good idea?
No. No, no, no, no, no.
Care to elaborate?
The vagina is a self-cleansing organ (now, that’s a girl power!). It has a delicate balance of acidity and healthy bacteria that line the vaginal walls, protecting you from infections. Douching disrupts this bacterial balance, and if it flushes away or kills the good bacteria, it leaves you vulnerable to bacterial or yeast infections in the vagina. So while they are intended to clean out the vagina, douches can actually cause thick discharge, itching and odor.
But, can’t douching get rid of vaginal stinky-ness?
Douching may temporarily change your odor, but it will come back stronger afterwards. It’s important to know that most vaginal odor is caused by sweat glands around the outside of your vagina. Washing your vulva (the outside of your lady parts) and thoroughly cleaning in the folds should be sufficient. If your normal discharge has excessive odor then check with your doc to make sure you don’t have an infection that needs to be cleared up.
*Bonus tip!: A normal healthy vagina may have a slight odor and that’s ok. Women weren’t designed to smell like flowers or fruit, they were designed to smell like women.*
If you’ve douched before, do you need to see a doctor?
Just because you have douched doesn’t mean that you will get an infection. But, it’s always a good idea to talk to a doc with any concerns, and if you develop any irritation, odor, or itching, definitely make an appointment.
Can douching before or after sex prevent pregnancy and STDs?
Nope. Douching before sex can can change the pH and bacterial balance in your vagina and make you more susceptible to STDs (see above). If you douche right before sex, you can also wash away your natural lubrication, making sex more painful and irritating to your vagina. As far as preventing pregnancy, squirting liquid into your vagina can actually flush sperm farther inside your vagina, actually increasing your chances of getting pregnant. Bottom line, when it comes to sex, douches are not your friend.
Have any other questions about douches? Email us!