Q: Does douching have any benefits?
A: No. But it has plenty of risks. About one-third of young American women douche routinely—for example, after menstruation. Many douching products contain fragrances, and manufacturers claim these will help women feel clean and “fresh.” The vagina, however, cleans itself, and douching may kill some of the helpful bacteria that normally reside there. This, in turn, may promote bacterial and yeast infections.
Douching will not prevent sexually transmitted diseases, as is sometimes claimed. In fact, it can introduce and propel harmful organisms further into the reproductive tract. And it can irritate the vagina and cause chronic discharge and discomfort.
Douching after sex will not prevent pregnancy, either. On the other hand, if you’re trying to get pregnant, regular douching may reduce your chances somewhat. Of greater concern, douching has been linked to an increased risk of ectopic (outside the uterus) pregnancies, which can be life-threatening, and to pre-term delivery and low birth weights. Some studies have also linked douching with pelvic inflammatory disease.