Is Douching Safe?

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Many women consider douching as a natural part of personal hygiene. Unfortunately, the belief that douching keeps the vagina healthy and clean is, in almost every case, wrong. A normal, healthy vagina contains natural, helpful bacteria and is slightly acidic. Douching, at the least, washes away the good bacteria and changes the pH. This leaves women more susceptible to yeast infections or other infections. Douching, at the worst, introduces dangerous bacteria into the vagina, or even the womb.

Types

There are several types of douches and these can be categorized according to the douche solution (medicated or fragrant). Doctors may prescribe medicated douches to treat bacterial infections or yeast infections. Douches are also available over the counter. These contain either a simple water and vinegar solution, fragrances, or Octoxynol9 - 2 X 6, a spermicide.

Features

Douches are designed to force fluid into the vagina to flush out the cavity. Most disposable douches are plastic. Non-disposable douches are usually made of rubber. Both kinds have nozzles for easy insertion into the vagina.

Effects

As douches wash away natural vaginal secretions, they also wash away helpful bacteria, and may change the pH of the vagina. This may allow yeast overgrowth, leading to a yeast infection, or may leave a waoman more susceptible to other vaginal infections. Alternatively, medicated douches, as prescribed by a doctor, quickly relieve some kinds of infections

Warning

If you have a pre-existing infection, douching may make it worse. Flooding the vagina with fluid this way may force contaminated fluids into the uterus, causing serious infections. Douching, in fact, may cause pelvic inflammatory disease. A woman’s body is designed to flush away impurities from the vagina. Frequent douching interferes with this process by upsetting the natural pH balance and beneficial bacteria.

Considerations

Douching is not an effective contraceptive. Rather than washing sperm out of the vagina, douching is much more likely to help sperm along by forcing it towards the cervix. If you are tempted to douche due to vaginal irritation or odor, see your physician first. An infection is likely. Douching, using an over the counter douche, will usually make an existing infection worse and may spread the infection. If you feel you must douche, choose mild solutions containing vinegar and water. Avoid perfumes or other additives, which may upset the chemical balance of the vagina.

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