Douche (vaginal douche) or douching refers to the process wherein a lady cleans her vagina using vinegar, common salt, or soda along with water to keep the private part fresh and non-smelly. There are some drugstores selling pre-packaged douche mixes. In French, the word “douche” means “soak” or “wash”. Most women douche after menstruation or sexual intercourse.    

Other than for hygienic reasons, women believe douching helps prevent unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which is not true. Douching doesn’t work as an effective birth control or disease prevention measure. There are some ladies who take to douching after getting influenced by their mothers, boyfriends, girlfriends, and mass media.   

Douching has been around for quite some time. Since 1988, the practice has decreased in prevalence. But that hasn’t stopped several American, Hispanic and Afro-American women from douching. The cleaning method is particularly common among American adolescents.

Douching Ill-Effects

A vagina has both bad and good bacteria. Douching kills the good bacteria, leaving the bad bacteria to thrive. The bad bacteria may cause the following medical problems:

  • Vaginal irritation
  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Vaginal yeast infection
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Cervical cancer
  • Preterm birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Infertility 
  • Recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis

Ironically, after a douching session, the vagina has a strong fishy odor instead of a clean and fresh smell, thanks to the bacterial infection.

Cleaning the Vagina

The vagina is not as dirty as it is made out to be. In fact, it’s got its own cleaning mechanism that sets in automatically whenever needed. Using soaps or other items with chemical ingredients to clean the vagina is a strict no, as those may irritate the vagina and its vulva. Instead, pure warm water would do the job fine. 

However, it’s generally best to leave the vagina on its own. Even the healthiest vaginas have some form of odor. Its natural cleaning mechanism kicks in every time vaginal mucus is produced. The mucus eliminates blood, vaginal discharge and semen. A vagina must be douched only when instructed by a doctor.