What is douching? ‘Hmm’! As a nurse, I’ve been asked this question yet again. Usually, I am always careful not to give destructive information to my patients and friends alike. Just as the case may be, certain practices may not be right for your health. So is the case of a needless douching.
Are you still wondering why? Read on!
Ever heard the saying ‘the vagina is a self-cleansing organ’? Yes! True it is! That keeps me wondering whose idea it was to invent the douche anyway.
However, today’s post packs a plethora of information on why you should take to heart the alternatives and ditch the harmful practice.
Firstly, let’s answer what is douching and take a look at what people think versus what douching does to your body.
Douching is the term used for the washing out of the vagina with water or other fluid mixtures. The fluid mixtures maybe some type of antiseptic solution or substances termed as natural or herbal remedy. These are usually inserted into the vagina to wash away menstrual blood, unpleasant odors, semen after unprotected intercourse amongst other reasons.
So, despite its harmful effect, chances are, you are guilty of an unnecessary act of douching. The flimsy excuse would be it cleanses the vagina. Are you kidding? Let it be known, our mother nature is not stupid. That self-care job has been taken care of for you. Agreed it’s quite difficult to unlearn not doing bad things like smoking, alcoholism, overeating and of course, your douching habit has made the list of bad habits you must quit. Seriously you have to stop it now!
How to take a douche?
On the flip side, you might not be the guilty but you know a friend who does it and is wondering how it’s done? Usually, to achieve these, the douche which ‘is a round inflatable device is used to introduce a stream of water into the body for medical or hygienic reasons, or the stream of water itself’.
The torrent of water is squirted into the vaginal canal using a nozzle. Gently, the nozzle is inserted into the vagina, not more than 3 inches, such that it doesn’t close the vaginal opening completely allowing the solution to flow freely out of the vagina. It’s done with the belief that it will wash out vaginal impurities or wash out sperm to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.
Some douches are inserted using the fingers and a scoop. These fingers are also, thereafter, used as an improvised sponge to wash the vagina.
Is douching necessary?
Let’s be clear that douching is a bad way of irrigating your vagina. The act alone can throw your vaginal microbial biome into confusion. Rinsing yourself with whatever solution for whatever reason is not right for you.
Can douching be used by medical professionals?
When there are indications for its use. However, your gynecologist might use a douche to:
- Cleanse and irrigate your cervix after cauterization.
- Help you get rid of foul odors that may be present in your love tube.
- Mechanically cleanse your vaginal tract and the cervix as in leukorrhea.
- Reduce the swelling and promote healing after cauterization.
- Wash your vagina as a pre-operative procedure after a gynecological procedure.
Can douching prevent pregnancy?
From a medical viewpoint, douching is discouraged. Douching exposes women to the problems they’re trying to prevent. Most women practice douching with their main aim being, to prevent infections; but the fact of this is, the introduction of disease-causing microbes is facilitated through douching.
And given that the vagina acidity helps in this job already, the introduction of foreign substances into it can upset its pH balance. Upsetting the pH balance of the vagina leaves the woman vulnerable to opportunistic pathogens.
The speed of sperm entering the uterus from the vagina takes less than a millisecond. In other words, they are very fast. So for someone bent on douching to prevent pregnancy, well, you’d have to be faster than light to be able to wash sperm out of yourself.
In actuality, douching aids pregnancy. Check this out: sperm has been released into a woman and she decides to do a washout; the washout becomes awash in because while introducing douche solutions into herself, she’s unbalancing vagina pH (diluting vagina acid, making the environment alkaline and favorable for sperm movement); and also pushing the sperm further into herself. There’s no guaranty that the millions of swimmers introduced into her, will be washed out.
Why do douches burn?
One of the classic signs of a reproductive tract infection is the burning sensation in the vagina. These burns can result from continuous douching, causing a gross imbalance in the vaginal environment. Some solutions used in douching can have eroding effects on the vaginal walls, leading to vaginal ulcers. This further facilitates the spread of infections as the protective vaginal lining is compromised.
Douching with vinegar
Does it matter what we douche with? Douching is douching whether with hydrochloric acid (which is greatly advised AGAINST) or with vinegar.
But let’s face facts: some women can’t do without douching. It has been ingrained in them to do it and doing it makes them feel better. Well if you’re going to douche against medical advice, you might as well do it in a less risky way.
Vinegar is added to water and used as a washout fluid for the vagina. It is acidic and has antimicrobial effects and may help keep the vagina pH balance.
Some schools of thought believe that it is ideal to rinse the vulva with a solution of apple cider vinegar and water. Although if overused, like any other substance, it may have side effects. It may increase the vagina pH, making it more acidic than normal. More acidic, less acidic, both ways can be detrimental to health. There are pre-prepared packages containing vinegar that can be bought from stores for the purpose, but if you’re taking the risk to douche, do it with a solution that is self-prepared, hence, trusted.
Why you shouldn’t douche?
Aside from the popular ‘what is douching’ question, the runner up inquiry is ‘how often should I douche’. Again, without a doubt, it is important to know that the vagina is self-cleansing. This means it does not require its owner to insert substances into it in the name of cleaning it.
The vagina is colonized by the lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria, which aids lactic acid production, bringing the vagina’s pH to about 4.5 (acidic). The vagina’s acidity helps to keep pathogenic bacteria and other unwanted elements, at bay. The acidity of the vagina gives it its normal sour smell, which isn’t unpleasant. This is not to say that all vaginal smells are acceptable.
A foul-smelling or fishy-smelling vagina is a sure sign of an infection of the reproductive tract. Vagina acids do not always protect from infections, but this doesn’t mean douching is a safe supplement. Health experts have warned against the use of douches in the vagina, as they may tend to worsen the situation of things in that environment. So how often should you douche? Well, maybe never.
To ensure maximum care of the vagina, the below can be more helpful than trying to wash out the vagina:
- Good hygiene – keeping yourself clean decreases your chances of coming in contact with disease-causing organisms. Clean the vulva (outside of your vagina) with a block of mild soap and clean water.
- Always wash after using the loo.
- Deodorants should be used externally; none should be sprayed inside the vagina.
- Change underwear regularly. Use clean, sun dried underwear.
- Consider a pH product. There are good feminine washes that help to keep pH balanced in the vagina, and these don’t even require douching to use. Prescription treatment.