Douche means “to wash” or “to soak” in French and refers to the practice of washing or rinsing out the vagina using water or some other fluid. Vaginal douches were first commercially produced in the 1800s, but douching itself was practiced long before that, says Fatima Daoud Yilmaz, MD, an ob-gyn at Stony Brook Medicine in New York.
Typically found in the feminine care aisle of most pharmacies and grocery stores, douche solution is usually a mix of water and vinegar, baking soda, or iodine. Douching is performed by squirting the solution into the vagina through a tube or nozzle, and the water mixture then comes back out through the vagina.
In 2002, more than 30 percent of women ages 15 to 44 reported douching, according to the National Survey of Family Growth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By 2019, that figure had dropped to about 11 percent.
Does douching have benefits for some women in some situations? None whatsoever, says Dr. Daoud Yilmaz. “Douching is not necessary for any women. There is no medical reason to douche,” she says.
Douching Leaves the Vagina Vulnerable to Unhealthy Bacteria, Viruses, and Yeast
Douching is not only unnecessary but can actually do more harm than good, says Daoud Yilmaz.
The vagina is a self-cleaning organ, according to Michigan Women’s Health. 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. “These cell layers are constantly sloughing away, and when they do, they take the bacteria and viruses along with them,” says Daoud Yilmaz.
Many douching products alter the pH, or acidity, inside the vagina to abnormally high levels, according to Michigan Women’s Health. This can leave the vagina more vulnerable to unhealthy bacteria, viruses, and yeast, says Daoud Yilmaz.
Douching can also disturb antibodies that produce antimicrobial proteins, found in the outer layer of cells that line a healthy vagina. Disrupting this defensive layer of the vagina can predispose one to infection, including bacterial vaginosis, yeast, and sexually transmitted infections, says Daoud Yilmaz.
Douching Linked With Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and UTIs
When you douche, you can also push pathogens (things like bad bacteria and viruses) upwards toward the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes, says Daoud Yilmaz.
“This can lead to a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID),” she says.
PID can cause scarring in the fallopian tubes and lead to infertility or ectopic pregnancy, says Daoud Yilmaz. In some cases, an abscess can form in the reproductive tract as a result of PID and potentially cause a life-threatening infection if left untreated, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Douching may also increase the risk of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI). While UTIs are usually caused by fecal bacteria entering the urethra as opposed to vaginal bacteria, douching can still irritate the lining of the urethra and result in infection, says Daoud Yilmaz.
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Busting the Most Common Myths About Douching
So why do some women still choose to douche? Experts say it may be due to a few myths about douching that have taken root. These myths include:
Douching is a hygienic part of a woman’s normal cleansing process. Again, no. The vagina is designed to clean itself, says Daoud Yilmaz. Douching will wash away menstrual blood and other matter, but it also changes the pH of the vagina, leaving it vulnerable to infection.
Douche is needed to get rid of a vagina’s odor. All vaginas create discharge and have a slight odor that can fluctuate throughout the month. That’s normal and natural, says Daoud Yilmaz.
“The vulva and vagina should not smell like vanilla or whatever the feminine care aisle is telling you it should smell like,” she says.
An unusual vaginal odor could be a sign of a bacterial infection, bladder infection, or sexually transmitted infection (STI), according to the CDC. “If you think there is something wrong, rather than masking it with douching, feminine washes, or deodorants, seek medical attention to determine what, if anything, is wrong,” says Daoud Yilmaz.
Douching can prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Douching after sex does not wash semen out of the vagina or prevent pregnancy. Douching has, however, been linked to infertility and associated with a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy, according to the Office on Women’s Health (OWH).
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fetus begins developing anywhere outside of the womb, often in the fallopian tube. This is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition. Douching during pregnancy may also increase the risk that a woman will have a preterm baby.
Douching doesn’t prevent sexually transmitted infections either. In fact, it can increase your risk of getting an STI, including HIV, per the OWH.
Douching can help treat a bacterial infection. As stated earlier, douching can spread vaginal infections further into your pelvis. It may also make it more difficult for your doctor to find and treat your infection, since douching disrupts the normal vaginal environment.
“Often, underlying medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also lead to conditions such as bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections,” says Daoud Yilmaz. In addition to douching, these can include poorly controlled diabetes, recent antibiotic use, daily use of panty liners, spermicide use, and wearing of tight synthetic underwear, which can create environments that pathogens love, she says.
“This is why consultation with a physician is always recommended to get to the root cause of the issue and create a treatment plan that is tailored for you,” she says.
How to Clean Your Vagina
Women should never try to clean their vaginas, says Daoud Yilmaz. “If a woman feels that there is something wrong, such as an unusual odor, new discharge, pain, abnormal bleeding, or itching, she should seek medical attention,” she says.
“If someone is looking to clean their vulva (the outer part of the female genitalia), I would recommend using lukewarm water only. There are times when more than water may be needed, such as during menstruation, after working out, or after intercourse,” she says.
In those cases, using a gentle, undyed plain soap without any fragrance externally on an as-needed basis is safe, though this may still be too harsh for those with sensitive skin, says Daoud Yilmaz.
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Why You Should Disclose Your STI Status to Your Partners
In the vibrant city of Kumasi, Ghana, a tale of love, honesty, and courage unfolded. Meet Ama, a compassionate and determined young woman, and Kwame, a kind-hearted and understanding man. Their love story was one that transcended barriers, as they learned the importance of disclosing their STI status to each other.
As their relationship blossomed, Ama found the strength to open up to Kwame about her STI status. She understood that this conversation was crucial for the well-being and trust within their relationship. With a pounding heart and a sense of vulnerability, Ama mustered the courage to disclose her status, unsure of how Kwame would react.
To her relief, Kwame listened attentively, appreciating Ama’s honesty and her courage to share such a sensitive matter. He assured her that he respected her openness and cared deeply for her well-being. Together, they embraced the importance of transparency and understanding in their relationship.
Recognizing the significance of this conversation, Ama and Kwame embarked on a journey of learning and understanding. They sought guidance from healthcare professionals who provided them with accurate information about the specific STI, its transmission, and the necessary precautions to maintain their sexual health.
With newfound knowledge, Ama and Kwame fostered open lines of communication about their sexual health and desires. They acknowledged that disclosing one’s STI status not only promoted trust and respect but also allowed them to make informed decisions about their intimate lives.
Ama and Kwame understood that their journey would involve taking necessary precautions to ensure their sexual health and prevent the transmission of the STI. They diligently followed the guidance provided by healthcare professionals, including the use of barrier methods and regular check-ups.
Their journey was not without challenges, but they faced them together with unwavering support and understanding. Ama and Kwame recognized that their love extended beyond physical intimacy, and their commitment to each other grew stronger through the trials they faced.
Through their experience, Ama and Kwame learned that disclosing one’s STI status is not only an act of responsibility but also an act of love. It fosters an environment of trust, empathy, and support within a relationship. They discovered that honest communication and education were powerful tools that could strengthen their bond and deepen their connection.
As their love story continued to unfold, Ama and Kwame became advocates for sexual health within their community. They shared their experience and knowledge, encouraging others to have open and honest conversations about their sexual health with their partners.
And so, dear reader, the story of Ama and Kwame teaches us that love and honesty go hand in hand. It reminds us of the importance of disclosing our STI status to our partners, as it fosters trust, respect, and responsible decision-making within our relationships. In the vibrant city of Kumasi, Ama and Kwame celebrated their love, empowered by their openness and the unbreakable bond they had formed.
How to Cope With (and Fix) Vaginal Dryness-Naa’s Story
In the serene coastal town of Cape Coast, Ghana, a tale of love and resilience unfolded. Meet Naa, a vibrant and compassionate woman, and Kwame, her devoted partner. Their love story was one of unwavering support and a shared determination to navigate the challenges they faced, including the delicate issue of vaginal dryness.
As time passed, Naa began to experience vaginal dryness, a condition that not only affected her physically but also had an impact on their intimate moments. Sensing Naa’s discomfort, Kwame approached the situation with empathy and a deep desire to find a solution that would allow their love to flourish.
With open hearts and a commitment to their relationship, Naa and Kwame embarked on a journey of understanding and exploration. They recognized that vaginal dryness could be caused by various factors, including hormonal changes, stress, certain medications, and even certain hygiene products.
Together, they sought advice from healthcare professionals who specialized in women’s health. They learned about the various treatment options available, such as lubricants, moisturizers, and hormone therapies. Naa, supported by Kwame’s unwavering presence, sought medical guidance to address any underlying causes contributing to her condition.
In addition to medical interventions, Naa and Kwame discovered the power of open communication. They fostered an environment where discussing their desires, fears, and concerns surrounding intimacy was not only accepted but encouraged. They explored the importance of foreplay, embracing longer periods of arousal and engaging in sensual activities that nurtured their emotional connection.
Naa and Kwame also embarked on a journey of self-discovery. They learned about the power of self-care, embracing practices that nurtured Naa’s overall well-being. They prioritized stress reduction techniques such as meditation, exercise, and engaging in activities they both enjoyed. This allowed Naa to reclaim her sensual identity, free from the pressures that accompanied vaginal dryness.
As they navigated the complexities of vaginal dryness together, Naa and Kwame discovered that their love was not solely defined by physical intimacy. They realized that emotional connection, trust, and open communication were the pillars that held their relationship strong.
Naa and Kwame explored the beauty of intimacy beyond traditional notions. They embraced the power of touch, focusing on sensual massages, extended periods of foreplay, and finding pleasure in exploring new erogenous zones. They learned to be patient with one another, acknowledging that vulnerability and understanding were vital elements in overcoming the challenges they faced.
With time, patience, and a deep commitment to their love, Naa and Kwame found solace in the fact that they were not alone on this journey. They discovered that there is no shame in seeking support or guidance, as they realized that many couples face similar challenges.
And so, dear reader, the story of Naa and Kwame teaches us that love conquers all obstacles. It reminds us that addressing and coping with vaginal dryness requires patience, understanding, and a shared commitment to exploring new avenues of intimacy. In the picturesque town of Cape Coast, Naa and Kwame celebrated their love, embracing the beauty of their connection and the strength they found in facing challenges together.
Prostate Cancer: What It Means for Your Sex Life
In the quiet neighborhood of Osu, nestled in the heart of Accra, Ghana, a love story unfolded, weaving together the delicate strands of devotion, resilience, and the unwavering spirit of two souls. Meet Kofi and Akua, a couple whose love stood tall in the face of adversity as they navigated the impact of prostate cancer on their sex life.
Kofi, a kind-hearted and strong-willed man, was diagnosed with prostate cancer, sending shockwaves through their once blissful existence. Akua, a pillar of strength and unwavering support, stood by his side, ready to face the challenges that lay ahead.
As Kofi embarked on his journey of treatment and recovery, both he and Akua realized that their love was not confined to physical intimacy alone. They understood that their connection ran far deeper, rooted in a bond forged by shared dreams, trust, and unwavering companionship.
In the intimate moments of vulnerability, Kofi and Akua openly discussed the impact of prostate cancer on their sex life. They shed tears, shared fears, and explored the options available to them. They sought advice from medical professionals who specialized in cancer care, learning about the potential side effects of treatment and the strategies to navigate them.
Through their research and candid conversations, Kofi and Akua discovered that prostate cancer treatment might cause changes in sexual function, including erectile dysfunction and decreased libido. Armed with knowledge, they embarked on a journey to find new ways to connect and experience pleasure.
They explored the power of communication and trust, recognizing that open dialogue was key to understanding each other’s needs and desires. They learned to embrace the changes and limitations imposed by the illness, finding solace in the knowledge that love transcends physicality.
Kofi and Akua delved into the realm of intimacy, discovering alternative avenues of pleasure and connection. They explored sensual touch, engaged in passionate kisses, and discovered the beauty of emotional intimacy. They embraced the power of non-sexual acts of love, realizing that affection, understanding, and emotional support were the building blocks of their relationship.
They sought guidance from sexual health professionals who specialized in assisting couples affected by cancer. With their support, Kofi and Akua learned techniques to enhance pleasure, utilizing aids and devices that could bring them closer together.
As their journey unfolded, Kofi and Akua discovered a newfound depth to their love. Their intimate moments became a testament to their resilience, strength, and the power of unwavering support. They found solace in the understanding that love is not defined by physical abilities alone but by the profound emotional connection they shared.
And so, dear reader, the story of Kofi and Akua reminds us that love can triumph over adversity. It teaches us that while prostate cancer may pose challenges to a couple’s sex life, it is an opportunity to explore alternative forms of connection and deepen the bond that holds them together. In the vibrant neighborhood of Osu, Kofi and Akua proved that love is not defined by the presence or absence of physical intimacy, but by the unwavering support and unwavering commitment to stand by each other’s side through life’s trials.