Did you know douching started out as a form of birth control? It didn't work, in case you were wondering. Up to 50% of the women still got pregnant in one study.(1)
Then it was marketed as a form of STD protection. Also, didn't work.
Now it is marketed as a way to keep the vagina smelling fresh and clean. This started with Lysol in the mid 1900's. Can you imagine putting Lysol in your vagina?? I sure can't. It is crazy what things are sold to women!
Do women need to douche?
The short answer is no and let me explain why.
The vagina is like a self cleaning oven. It is also an ideal place for bacteria to grow. A dark, damp place is a perfect environment for bacteria, however our body has a built in balance with our own natural bacteria.
Kind of like our gut health, our vaginal health has
a balance of good and bad bacteria, which can be influenced by what we eat and drink and
put inside the vagina.
In a healthy vaginal environment the good bacteria balances out the bad bacteria and they live in harmony. If we introduce outside cleansers and products into the vagina that can upset the balance and create a better environment for an infection by decreasing the amount of good bacteria.
There is no biological or physical reason to douche or clean the inside of the vagina. Douching has been sold to women for decades as a way to make them seen clean and attractive when in reality douching is creating a potentially toxic environment in the vagina and causing more yeast and bacterial infections.
It is normal to have a small amount of vaginal discharge. This may change throughout the menstrual cycle in amount, thickness, color and odor. This is very normal.
If there is a strong odor or amount of discharge beyond what is typical for you, then that is a good time to call your doctor and get it checked out and tested for a UTI, STD or yeast infection. Douching is not going to help. It will only cover up the problem and potentially lead to bigger problems. Untreated or severe urinary tract infections can cause kidney infections and that can be life threatening if untreated.
What do I do instead if I shouldn't douche?
Honestly, the vagina does not need to be cleaned from the inside. If you are concerned about cleanliness and odor washing the outside of the vagina, the vulva, with warm water is really all that is necessary. If you insist on a little extra cleanliness you can use a small amount of unscented, gentle soap with warm water to wash the outside only. Rinse well and pat dry gently.
The other things you can do: drink plenty of water, eat a balanced diet, decrease sugar consumption. These all will keep the bacteria levels well balanced. You can also wear cotton underwear, change out of wet swimsuits once you are out of the water. Use a lubrication for sex that doesn't contain harsh chemicals. I wrote a post about this: https://www.rechargetherapy.com/post/lubricants-do-ingredients-matter
With douching, as with many other things in life, less is more. In fact, please stop douching. Now. Never again. Eat and drink healthily, use healthy products with natural ingredients and good old soap and water on the outside of the body are enough to keep you clean and smelling how a vagina should smell. Please seek medical advice from you healthcare provider if you have an abnormal vaginal discharge, otherwise your self-cleaning vagina is doing just fine on its own.