Another reason not to douche: Douching may increase exposure to phthalates, according to a large study from George Washington University in Environmental Health. These industrial chemicals—which are often used in scented personal care products and can be absorbed through the skin—are linked to endocrine and reproductive problems.
Women who reported douching in the prior month had nearly three times more phthalate metabolites in their urine than women who didn’t douche, with higher levels related to more-frequent use.
Douching is not necessary (the vagina is self-cleaning) and is risky in other ways: It may increase infections, for instance, and has been linked to pregnancy problems and pelvic inflammatory disease. No association was seen in the study between the use of other feminine hygiene products and phthalates.
See also: Vaginal Odor: Causes and Remedies.