Douching after sex is a long-standing controversial topic among women. Some swear by it to flush sperm, eliminate odors, and kill infections. In fact, somewhere between 20% and 40% of American women douche regularly. But is it really the best way to clean out your vagina?
What is a Douche?
A douche is a combination of water and “cleansing” liquids intended to flush the vagina of any lingering issues after sex or your period. They often contain products that you’ll see in DIY cleaning products, like baking soda, vinegar, and even lime juice. This formula is sprayed or squirted into your vagina with a bottle, and it then cleanses and flows out.
Common Types of Douching
DIY: Many women mix their own douching solutions at home from water and ordinary cleaning agents. Some of the most popular mixtures include:
- Citric acid (lime, lemon juice)
- Baking soda
Each of these elements contains some sort of acidity intended to kill bacteria or sperm or—in the case of yogurt—has known antibacterial properties.
Store-bought: You can also buy pre-mixed douches from the store. These douches often contain elements that you can’t obtain on your own, such as fluorides, chlorides, and glucosides, in addition to the typical household cleansers.
So…. Is Douching Safe?
According to most medical professionals, no!
While those cleansing agents may kill harmful bacteria in your vagina, they’re also killing all the healthy bits! And when the delicate balance of your vagina is off, you might start seeing other major problems.
You may experience significant discomfort from exposing your sensitive areas to those agents (think blisters, itching, and other pain). There’s also strong evidence that links douching with the following high-risk issues:
- – Bacterial Vaginosis
- – Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- – Pregnancy Problems
- – Sexually Transmitted Infections
- – Yeast Infections
Can It Prevent Pregnancy?
Unfortunately, no—at least not in the way most women hope for. If you douche after sex with the intent to flush sperm out of your body, you’re out of luck. Medical studies show that douching doesn’t work fast enough to keep up with the sperm in your system. If you’re worried about unprotected sex, your best plan of action is to see a doctor ASAP.
However, what douching can do is trash your entire vaginal system, making it difficult for you to get pregnant when you want to. It can even put you at high risk for pregnancy problems like miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.
If you simply want to give your vagina a refresh and eliminate odors or discomfort, there are plenty of safe ways to take care of your sensitive bits.
- See a doctor: The easiest solution to all your feminine issues is to visit your gynecologist. Chances are, your doctor has seen your problem a thousand times and has a simple solution for you.
- Let your vagina do its thing: Your vagina is naturally equipped with everything it needs to flush bacteria, blood, etc., from your system. As much as you may hate dealing with vaginal discharge, it naturally pulls all the waste from your system and keeps your pH levels balanced and healthy.
- Use a gentle vaginal wash: When your vagina does need a little extra help with odors, focus on your vulva first. Unlike your vagina, this does need to be washed, and you can give it a healthy pH balance by using a mild wash like VeeGentle. The trick here is not to get the liquid in your vagina, because that’s when problems start. Focus on keeping the outside fresh, and you’ll see a downward trend in nasty odors.
Douching may be a popular method of vaginal care, but the medical facts are clear: don’t do it! Unless your doctor has prescribed a specific medical-based solution for you to use, your douching routine will do your system more harm than good. You could even be setting your vagina up for some serious future issues that you may want to discuss with your doctor.
The best way to care for your vagina is to let her carry on her regular routine. And if you have an ongoing issue, visit your gynecologist. You’ll be back on track in no time.
Sarah Nelson is a nurse with 15 years of experience working with a variety of patients. She has a Masters of Science in Nursing and has spent a large portion of her career working exclusively with women in an OB/GYN setting.
Nursing is a passion for Sarah but she also enjoys writing and sharing her expertise online with people who need helpful information. Treating patients well and helping them learn more about their own bodies is a key essential to a healthy lifestyle that Sarah truly believes in.