Is douching OK?


No. The vagina is a self cleaning organ. Just like you would not want to use harsh chemicals in your self cleaning oven, douching the self cleaning vagina can lead to problems.

All that is needed for upkeep and maintainace is local care and cleaning as showering and cleaning the vulva. The vagina sheds old cells and creates a normal discharge that we call "physiologic" - it's supposed to happen.

Some women have heavier discharges than others, and the pill can change your discharge as well. Discharge changes throughout the month depending on where you are in your cycle and can range from clear and stretchy (spinnbarkheit) midcycle, to yellow and thicker in the later part of the cycle after ovulation.

If you are douching because of an abnormal color, smell, or discomfort you may have an infection, and you should be seeing your gyn right away. Douching can actually take a superficial vaginal or cervical infection and turn it into a serious upper pelvic infection. The vagina normally contains a host of bacteria that live there on an every day basis. The uterus and fallopian tubes, however, should not have any bacteria and are sterile. Douching can actually force the vaginal bacteria up into the sterile uterine cavity and fallopian tubes, causing a serious infection and potentially fertility impairing situation.

Bottom line is - it's not necessary and it can actually hurt you. Shower or bathe for day to day maintainance, and if it doesn't look, smell or feel right, go right to the gyn.

Wendy Fried, M.D., FACOG, FACS, is an OB/Gyn with Northern Obstetrics and Gynecology, PC in North Hills, New York

Disclaimer: The information provided in this document is for educational purposes only. It is not medical advice and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Only your own physician knows all the important details of your specific medical and personal history and should be the only one to give you advice regarding your own medical care. You should never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical advice or treatment because of something you have read herein. If you have any questions whatsoever about your medical health or believe you have a medical problem or disease, you should contact your medical doctor or healthcare provider.