The vagina is a self-cleaning organism. Mama, you've heard that countless times before, yet it's shocking how many women continue to douche. Even with the reassurance from gynecologists that, yes, your vagina is healthy, and no, you don't need to wash it to make it smell better, it is estimated that 25 percent of women between the ages 15 and 44 still douche. By washing between the crevices, you may unintentionally wipe away good bacteria and disrupt the pH balance of the vagina, which could lead to infection and even pregnancy-related problems. The discharged mucus from the vagina carries out menstrual blood, old cells and other gunk; that's is the way the vagina properly cleans itself. Every woman has discharge, and the appearance of it means your vagina is functioning suitably.
But a study done by George Washington University and University of California researchers now shows that douching increases a woman's exposure to phthalates. Ami Zota, one of the lead researchers of the study, said, "Phthalates are chemicals of concern for women's health because they are suspected endocrine disruptors and can alter the action of important hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and thyroid hormones."
The study reported higher levels of this chemical in women who douched once, or more than once, a month. In this regard, not only have these women changed the environment of the vagina, but they've also made it increasingly more vulnerable to infections and hormone imbalances. OB-GYN Mache Seibel also says that "women who douche once a week are five times more likely to develop BV," meaning bacterial vaginosis. Yeast infections and urinary tract infections do not require products to prevent them from occurring... in fact, those "feminine" products contribute to the appearance of infections.
So what's the point here? Do not douche. Let your vagina do its thing; it's not supposed to smell like lilac, so don't try to wipe a scent up there. In an article on International Business Times, Dr. Sten Vermund of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center said, "No woman should be douching unless instructed by a health care provider to treat a specific vaginal infection." The best way to take care of your lady parts is by eating plenty of probiotics (which help balance your vaginal flora), and being gentle in the shower with your gentlest parts.
>> Read more: Healthy Hooha: Freshening Up vs. Covering Up