Young Women Advised To Avoid Douching

Teen girls and young women should be discouraged from vaginal douching because the practice increases the risk of certain disorders of the reproductive tract. More than 15% of adolescents and young women in the US use douches, even though the products have been associated with a greater risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, tubal pregnancy, or bacterial vaginosis. Although douches have not been conclusively shown to be the cause of such problems, no benefit of douching has been found either. Douching has been shown to change vaginal flora, the beneficial bacteria that keep the vagina at a slightly acid pH. While the normal bacteria rebound within 72 hours of douching, repeatedly using certain products may allow the overgrowth of disease-causing organisms. These changes may promote the development of bacterial vaginosis, an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina that is the most common cause of discharge and odor. More seriously, douching is associated with pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes that can damage fertility, as well as ectopic pregnancies, in which a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, a condition that can be life-threatening.

Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine August, 1999;153:834-837

COMMENT: Proper diet and the use of good bacteria will serve to eliminate the vast majority of vaginal infections without the need for douching. One may also receive benefit from adding 1 cup of salt to a warm bath and soaking in it.

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