Is Vaginal Douching Good for You?
To douche or not to douche? That is the question.
What is douching?
Douching means to shower with water. In French, the word “Douche” is used for taking a classic, body cleaning, shampoo using, water falling from the ceiling, shower. In English, douche generally denotes two things: Being an asshole, or rinsing internally (The vagina or anus, to be specific). Many popular douching products today include iodine, baking soda, vinegar, or other materials. Since anal douching is its' own category, this article will talk about vaginal douching exclusively. So... What is it all about?
Remember: This is not medical advice and not all vaginas are the same. Always listen to recommendations from your doctor according to your needs. Trans women/folks who have had affirming surgery, for instance, are advised to douche. Also, it bears stating: not all women have vaginas, and some men do.
What do douches look like?
There are tons of different ways to douche. From water bottles to shower attachments to specifically produced douches, there are almost too many options. Generally, they look something like: a bulb with a tube extension on it. Users fill the douche with water and cleaning solutions, then squirt it inside the vagina.
What’s its deal?
Douching first came into the scene as a birth control method in the 1800’s. By the 1920’s. Lysol was the douching product to use – touting claims of working as spermicide and antiseptic. It stayed in vogue all the way until the 1980’s, when doctors realized (oh my) that it was burning peoples labia and cervixes.
Should I douche?
No. You should not douche your vagina. The vagina cleans itself. Like, seriously. Many studies show that is damaging. It both harms the delicate bacteria in the vagina and the mucus lining. It makes you more susceptible to infections. It does not make it cleaner. The vagina is not meant to smell like a perfume shop. Douching also does not provide reliable birth control. As Dr. Jen Gunter puts it: “There is a lot of money in vaginal shame” (Page 103, The Vagina Bible).
Why are we talking about it if it isn't good for me?
Because it's still really, really popular. One study shared that in rural Turkey, over 80% of women shared that they have douched with hot water and soap, and 69% said they douched more than once. ALL participants in the study had some sort of vaginal health issues. Throughout the world, “feminine shampoo” is continuing to gain momentum as a part of everyday care. Similar products like some wipes, gels, and cleansers are also gaining momentum.
Why is it so ubiquitous?
The popularity of douching around the world is demonstrative of the lack of understanding of vaginal health and systems that oppress people with vaginas. The vagina being frames as "dirty" and needs to be "cleaned" says despite obvious evidence to the contrary is part and parcel with devaluing the vagina-havers. If there is something inherently wrong with you, you must be inherently bad, after all.
To sum up...
Will douching help you in any way? No. Will it make your vagina cleaner? No. Will it prevent pregnancy? No. Are there benefits to douching? No. Are there risks with douching? Yes. So... You should NOT douche your vagina. Pass it on.
Gunter, J. (2019). The vagina bible: The Vulva and the vagina--separating the myth from the medicine. Random House Canada.
Morse, J. (2015, April 22). Why Douching won't die. The Atlantic. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/04/why-douching-wont-die/390198/
Vulvovaginal Health. ACOG. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2022, from https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/vulvovaginal-health?utm_source=redirect&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=otn
(2019, October 29). Why women should not engage in douching. Daily Trust. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from https://dailytrust.com/why-women-should-not-engage-in-douching/