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Why Douching Increases Your Risk of Getting Vaginal Yeast Infection

Are you currently in the habit of douching as a way to either clean your vagina or chase away certain odors?

Were you aware that the practice of douching actually increases your risk for a number of vaginal conditions and infections, including vaginal yeast infection?

Douching is a practice that has been around for decades now, and while many women still believe that douching can improve the overall health of the vagina, most health experts disagree.

In fact, douching is counterproductive to the health of the vagina and should be avoided altogether.

In this article we will take a closer look at the practice of douching, and discuss in some detail why doctors and gynecologists are now entirely against the practice.

Douching and Vaginal Yeast Infection : What is Douching?

The term douche is a French word that means to wash or soak, and thus douching is the practice of washing or cleaning the vagina. Commercial douches are usually prepackaged mixes of water and vinegar, baking soda or iodine, and can be found at most drug and grocery stores.

These prepackaged mixes usually come complete with a type of squirt bottle with which the solution is sprayed into the vagina.

The douching industry is a very lucrative one.

Studies indicate that nearly 30-40 percent of adult women age 18-44 douche regularly, and about half of these women douche at least once a week. The practice is especially common with the younger set, age 18-21, and among African American and Latino women.

These women believe, albeit in error, that douching can provide a number of vaginal benefits, including cleaning the vagina, rinsing away blood after monthly periods, controlling odor, avoiding sexually transmitted diseases and infections and preventing pregnancy.

Douching and Vaginal Yeast Infection : The Link

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, unless women want to invite a vaginal yeast infection, bacterial infection or sexually transmitted infection (STI), they should avoid douching altogether.

Here’s why :

Vaginal yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of fungus/yeast in the vagina, specifically the species called Candida albicans. Normally this yeast is controlled and kept in check by healthy bacteria, but when this fragile balance of organisms, also called the vaginal flora, is altered, the yeast can proliferate.

Douching can drastically change the vaginal flora and the acidity of a healthy vagina, which may ultimately lead to vaginal yeast infection.

The normal balance of organisms in the vagina creates a healthy and acidic environment, but douches contain chemicals that can rapidly destroy the healthy bacteria, and when those bacteria are depleted, the fungus and harmful bacteria in the vagina can grow uninhibited.

In other words, douching leaves the vagina very vulnerable, not only to vaginal yeast infection, but also to bacterial infections and those infections that are transmitted sexually.

Moreover, douching while a vaginal yeast infection is already present in the vagina can push the yeast up into the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes, causing even more problems and symptoms and making the infection more difficult to treat.

Medical research clearly indicates that women who douche regularly experience more problems with their vaginal health than women who refrain from the practice. In addition to vaginal yeast infections, douching can lead to :

Although many women mistakenly think that douching will clean the inside of the vagina and get rid of odor, experts say that the natural-occurring organisms can handle that task on their own.

These organisms are constantly working to keep the vagina clean, and the chemicals found in many douches will only inhibit that process. As far as odor goes, even a healthy vagina will give off a certain odor, one that is perfectly natural and normal.

However, when a strong fishy, urine or yeasty-like odor is present, it may be a sign that a vaginal yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis has set in, and if that is the case, douching will only make the problem worse.

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