Ask Dr. Renee: Is It Safe To Douche?

July 10, 2014  |  


Source: Shutterstock


What is douching?

First of all I think we should explain what douching is first. My mother’s generation talked more about douching than the Generation X’ers or Millenials. The French word “douche” translates to mean “wash,” or “soak.” It means washing or cleaning out the vagina (birth canal) with water or other mixtures of fluids. Most douches are prepackaged mixes of water and vinegar, baking soda, or iodine. You can buy these products at drug and grocery stores. The mixtures usually come in a bottle and can be squirted into the vagina through a tube or nozzle.


Why do women douche?

Through the years women have given several different reasons for douching. Many of these reasons have been passed down for generations. Most women believe that douching helps prevent vaginal odor. Some girls believe that if they have unprotected sex douching can prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases/infections. Women have been told when they begin menstruating that they need to douche at the end of every cycle to clean the vagina. None of these reasons are backed by any medical research.


Is douching safe?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) as well as most of my colleagues recommend that women avoid the practice of douching. Douching can change the delicate balance of vaginal flora (organisms that live in the vagina) and acidity in a healthy vagina. A healthy vagina has both good and bad bacteria. A balance of the level of bacteria types helps maintain an acidic environment. Any changes can cause an overgrowth of bad bacteria, which can lead to a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. Additionally, if you have a vaginal infection, douching can push the bacteria causing the infection further up into the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Researchers have found that douching has been linked to vaginal irritation, and pelvic inflammatory disease. Douching can also mask symptoms of other problems. It is important to see a doctor when you have any of these symptoms:

  • Vaginal discharge that smells bad
  • Thick, white, or yellowish-green discharge with or without an odor
  • Burning, redness, and swelling in or around the vagina
  • Pain when urinating
  • Pain or discomfort during sex
  • Significant bleeding other than menstrual

These symptoms can be signs of infection that may be sexually transmitted. If you douche before seeing the doctor it will be difficult for them to receive accurate test results from your vagina. This is also why when you are going to see the gynecologist they tell you do not douche before your visit.

In 2014 it is very difficult to see a commercial about douching. That leads me to believe that it is losing its popularity and more women are listening to their doctors. Douching is not safe. It is better to wash your vagina regularly with soap and warm water. It is also best if you do not use scented tampons, sanitary napkins (pads), powders, and sprays. These products increase your chance of developing vaginal irritation and infection.  If you have any more questions please do not hesitate to Ask Dr. Renee.

Twitter: @AskDrRenee


Source: Ask Dr. Renee

Dr. Renee Matthews has appeared on television shows such as “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and WGN’s “People to People”  where she discussed different health topics. She started her media career with her own radio show on Sirius XM/ReachMD, a programming source for health professionals. In addition Dr. Renee has been a featured medical correspondent on Sirius XM’s “Sway in the Morning.” 

Dr. Renee earned her undergraduate degree in 1999 and her Medical Doctorate in 2005. She spent the early part of her medical career as an educator for numerous hospitals and attending staff on cord blood.


Trending on MadameNoire

View Comments
Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN
  • Pingback: Do You Really Know How To Take Care Of Your Vagina? | 247 Nigeria News Update()

  • uniquefashionista

    I am 41 years old and am still one of those women that douches. My OBGYN told me that it is okay to douche every now and then (only use the vinegar and water) but not to do it all the time. When I need to feel clean, I also use the product Refresh. My doctor also okayed it. I also use Vagisil Feminine Wash which is formulated by doctors and was told this is okay as well.
    Some women, including myself, don’t feel fresh and clean after having intimate relations, cycles, etc… Soap and water doesn’t do it. If you can smell yourself, others can too. I know the difference between a regular smelling v-area compared to one that just stinks. Sometimes I hate using the restroom after some women because they smell horrible. I refuse to be one of those people. I can’t believe that each of these women have some sort of infection. They need to use something else in addition to what they are using to clean themselves.
    I have heard that using underarm deodorants are considered toxic, but I still use them. I don’t want to walk around smelling musty all day. Nowadays, it seems that everything we eat, use, or come into contact with is “bad for our health”. Each person needs to do what they feel is best for them.

  • Demitra

    My Mom engaged in the practice of douching. Thank God I was smart enough to never partake. Although the article says to use soap and water you have to be careful not to get any soap into the actual canal. That can cause irritation as well. For many years I swore by Summer’s Eve feminine wash. It was hypoallergenic and seemed safe until after a routine pap smear ended being abnormal. Honestly the best way to clean your vagina is water…drinking water via your mouth..

    • Ask Dr. Renee

      You can use warm water and soap on a washcloth to clean yourself. You should not stick anything in your vagina or your anus for that matter, you are correct.

  • aliciakpowers

    my buddy’s sister makes $87 every hour on the internet
    . She has been unemployed for 6 months but last month her payment was $19402
    just working on the internet for a few hours. go right here C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

  • Pingback: Bacterial Vaginosis Be Gone! » Ask Dr. Renee: Is It Safe To Douche?()

  • Chanda

    I imagine only old-school type of women (the ones who grew up in that douching era) buy and use douche. I also heard that menopause can have an effect on the way the vagina smells so that could be it, too. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks but I’m sue the younger girls got the message now.

    • yoda

      Yeah I think it’s an older woman type thing. I know that the V’s are self cleaning and don’t need all that stuff.

      • Ask Dr. Renee

        Thank you for the comment.

    • Ask Dr. Renee

      Thank you for your comment.