Experts say vaginal douching can do more harm than good

Vaginal douching is a process of cleansing the vaginal with a liquid or solution. This has been employed by numerous women and adolescents for personal hygiene or aesthetic purposes. Some even douch because they believe it prevents some sexually transmitted and pelvic inflammatory diseases.

However, two earlier reviews on douching in women and adolescents have revealed that it is harmful and should be discouraged. It was linked with pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and other conditions.

Significantly, the impact of douching on women’s health has been proven to have adverse effects.

According to a journal of epidemiology, 2002, douching is a common practice among women of different races, including Nigerians.

Recent studies have shown that most women who douch consider it to be a healthy practice. Some women consider douching for  vagina cleansing after menstrual cycle or before and after coitus. Most women employ this method either to prevent unpleasant odour or itching and sexually transmitted diseases.

However, experts have associated  vaginal douching with many adverse outcomes.  According to experts in this journal, douching with lime or other vagina douching agents can result into such things as pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID), bacteria vaginosis, cervical cancer, human immuno deficiency virus(HIV), preterm birth, sexually transmitted diseases(STDs), low birth weight, ectopic pregnancy, recurrent vulvo-vagina candidiasis and infertility.

Several ways by which douching with lime juice or other liquids may contribute to a disease have been identified. Experts say douching may remove normal vaginal floras, thereby permitting  the overgrowth of disease-causing organisms.

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They quoted other researchers saying that among a group of women with pelvic inflammatory disease, frequent and recent douching was associated  with endometritis and upper genital tract infection in women with normal and intermediate vagina flora.

Another adverse effect of douching is that bacteria vaginosis might develop, as a result of reduction  or removal of vaginal floras, there may be a predisposition to colonisation by sexually transmitted infections such gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Speaking  on possible ways to keep the vagina clean and healthy, a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist, University College Hospital (UCH), Dr Olatunji Ogunbode, says the best way to keep the vagina clean and hygienic is to wash with water and unscented soap.

“Water is the best. Water and unscented soap is acceptable. Clean from front to back. Pat dry the vulva with a soft and dry towel,”he added.

Dr Christine Mauck of CONRAD, a research institute in the United States, did a study  enrolling 48 sexually abstinent women volunteers.

She divided the women into four groups: those using 100 per cent lime juice, 50 per cent of lime juice, 25 per cent  lime juice and the last group using plain water.

Each group inserted their assigned tests fluid  twice daily for six consecutive days during two menstrual Cycles. In one cycle , it was inserted via a douch, and in another via a modified tampon  soaked in lime juice.

All the women were carefully checked for vagina infections, irritation and other problems before and after the study and were treated for the problems they had. The result showed that some women had serious abrasions or injuries in the wall of their vaginas after using 50 per cent and 100 per cent lime juice. The women who used plain water didn’t get these abrasions.

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