Vaginal douching increases your STD risk. Vaginal douching refers to the practice of washing or rinsing out the vagina using water, soap or other chemical fluids.

20% to 40% of American women between ages 15 and 44 currently use a vaginal douche. Douches are bought at most drug stores in America and are sold in bottles that allow women to squirt the solution into the vagina through a hose or nozzle. Other women douche by inserting a wet cloth or other fluids into the vagina.


People may douche for a number of reasons including hygiene, to get rid of unpleasant odours or to wash away menstrual blood after their period. Some people do it because they believe it can help them avoid getting an STD and prevent a pregnancy after intercourse.

Vaginal Douching: Past And Present

The reasoning behind douching is not widely studied or understood, however, numerous studies states that douching was being marketed to young adolescents as a method of feeling fresh and confident.

Menstrual blood was being viewed as unsanitary from a societal perspective in the early 1900s. In The Body Project: An Intimate History Of American Girls, Joseph Greer is noted as saying "every part of the body (should be) as clean as the face", adding that menstrual blood expelled "generates unpleasant odours, a sure sign of noxious effluvia and breeding bacteria"

Today, it is widely known that the vagina has self-cleaning abilities. The cervix and the walls of the vagina create a small amount of mucous that carries menstrual blood, old cells, and other matter out of the vagina. The acidic environment and special bacteria in the vagina help to prevent infections caused by other microbes that don’t belong there. A healthy vagina is a fine-tuned, delicate system and douching interferes with the natural system.

“Douching flushes out normal bacteria in the vagina that are there to fight vaginal infections. It was used for medical treatment until the mid-20th Century, when it was found that it was not healthy.” explains Beverly Whipple,PhD and secretary general of the World Association for Sexual Health.

Health Issues Associated With Vaginal Douching

In a study carried out on 10 healthy girls, it was found that douching results in microfloral changes within the vagina, just ten minutes after douching.

The risks of douching outweigh the benefits. Some of the health problems linked to douching are:

  • STDs
    As mentioned above, douching disrupts infection-fighting bacteria in the vagina and creates an environment more favorable for the growth of bacteria that causes infection. What’s more, douching can spread already-existing infections further into your pelvis. This can cause a serious pelvic infection.

  • Bacterial vaginosis:
    Women who douche regularly (once a week) are five times more likely to develop bacterial vaginosis than those who do not douche.

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID):
    PID is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and/or ovaries. Women who douche may have a 73% higher risk of contracting PID.

  • Pregnancy complications:
    Women who douche often have more difficulty getting pregnant than those who don’t. They also face a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy, this is when the foetus begins to develop anywhere outside of the womb, often in the fallopian tube.

Consequences Of Vaginal Douching

If the reason you are douching is because of abnormalities such as vaginal itching, pain when urinating, pain during sex, yellowish-green discharge with or without an odour, these may be signs of an STD or vaginal infection. Vaginal douching will compound or accelerate the reason you may already be douching. Visit your doctor or order an at-home STD test to know for sure.

Read: STD Symptoms in Women

Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley