When it comes to our homes and possessions, we rely on an impressive inventory of cleaning supplies. Who among us does not have a closet full of cleaners for every surface in the home? For clothes, there are long aisles of detergents, stain removers and fabric softeners. And in the shower, we reach for shampoos, conditioners, body washes and maybe even plain old soap. It’s no wonder that we’re often tempted, as women, to clean “under the hood.” Besides, the commercials suggest we may be less than fresh if we don’t. Is it really so harmful to douche?

The answer is an emphatic yes. It’s a bad idea. In fact, we’ve learned that the risks associated with douching can be worse than originally thought.

Remember studying eco-systems in elementary school? Maybe you collected and analyzed pond water, or watched living things grow in a terrarium. The big lesson was that there’s a delicate balance in nature required to keep all the organisms healthy and happy in their own world. That interdependence of all the required creatures in the right amounts made it all work. It’s the same principle in a well-functioning vagina. Sometimes, ordinary factors like stress, diet or a change in medication can throw off the balance. But the most direct way to destabilize your personal eco-system is to douche.

When that balance of bacteria, enzymes and acids is out of whack, a state of vaginosis can occur – which increases the risk of a secondary infection. It can also lead to catastrophic results. Studies show it can aggravate infertility, lead to miscarriage in the first trimester, or pre-term birth down the road. Pre-term birth is not only our country’s biggest cause of infant mortality – medical costs associated with it are skyrocketing. For babies that survive, asthma in children is linked back to bacterial vaginosis in the mother. Non-pregnant women may face a higher risk of cervical cancer, endometriosis and HIV.

So the next time you think about some internal tidying up, realize the delicate harmony of your own vaginal eco-system. And before you consider buying any cleaning product for it, be grateful that it’s like a new oven: magically self-cleaning.


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