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A douche is more than a middle-school insult. An actual douche is a doodad some peeps use to flush out their vag. But there are much safer ways to give your V some TLC. Here are the dirty deets on douching.

What’s a douche?

A vaginal douche is a bottle or bag filled with water and/or other fluids (e.g. vinegar, iodine, baking soda, fragrance, or antiseptics). It squirts the fluids into the vagina.

Nearly 20 percent of women between 15 to 44 douche on the reg. A lot of ladies think they need to douche to keep their private bits “clean.” That’s just not true.

Myth busters: Douche bag edition

Douching won’t help with:

  • birth control
  • STI prevention
  • flushing out menstrual blood or semen
  • vaginal odor

Vajayjays are self-cleaning ovens. They maintain vaginal flora and pH levels on their own. A vagina’s pH is on the acidic side to combat bad bacteria. Douching can screw the cooch and put you at risk for infections and other health issues.

Common vaginal infection symptoms

  • painful urination
  • swelling, burning, itching, and redness in or around your vagina
  • intense and/or fishy odor
  • abnormally colored vaginal discharge (e.g. green, creamy white, or yellow)

Douching can throw a serious wrench in your vag’s natural balance. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology advises ditching douching altogether. The potential health risks aren’t worth it.

Vaginal infections

Don’t douche if you want to keep your lady bits fresh. Those who douche are five times more likely to get bacterial vaginosis than those who don’t. Douching can also lead to yeast infections and other fungal infections.

To makes matters worse

Douching can worsen pre-existing infections. This makes it easier for conditions to spread to other parts of the reproductive system.

Cervicitis

Douching increases your risk for cervicitis, a condition that inflames the cervix. It’s usually contracted through sex, but that’s not always the case.

Common symptoms include:

  • irregular vaginal discharge
  • bleeding after sex
  • painful sex
  • foul odor
  • burning
  • itching
  • pain

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

PID is typically transmitted sexually. Studies show douching can increase your risk of contraction by as much as 73 percent. The long-term complications of PID include reproductive organ damage and difficulty conceiving.

Pregnancy concerns

Douching should never be used as contraception. It can actually push sperm further into your uterus. Regardless, douching wouldn’t make a difference. Sperm is too fast. You wouldn’t be able to douche in time. Thankfully, there are lots of birth control methods that actually work.

If your eggo is already preggo

Douching can be harmful to pregnant peeps and those looking to conceive. Folks who douche consistently may be more at risk for:

Your vag can take care of itself. Douching is not necessary. In fact, it can do a lot more harm than good. If you’re worried about the state of your vaginal union talk to your doctor.

The best alternative to douching is regular cleansing. You don’t have to shower your whole body everyday. But you should give your private parts some extra attention.

Cleansing tips

  • Use unscented soaps or body washes that won’t throw your natural pH out of whack.
  • Avoid harsh scrubbing. This can be super irritating.
  • Don’t get soap inside your vagina.
  • Make sure the area is properly rinsed and dried after cleansing.

Vaginas have their own natural taste and odor. And that’s okay! They taste and smell the way they’re supposed to. Your particular scent might fluctuate due to diet, hormones, sex, and exercise.

If you’re concerned about your odor there are simple ways to keep your coochie in tip-top shape.

Tips for a tasty vag

  • Keep it clean. Regular washing is usually enough to keep your vagina smelling great.
  • Be gentle. Harsh cleansers and douches can aggravate vaginal odor.
  • Being dry isn’t always a bad thing. Excess moisture can help infections spread and odors to fester. Dry thoroughly after after washing. Avoid wearing a wet bathing suit home from the pool or beach.
  • Comfort is key. Wear breathable materials like cotton. Polyester, silk, and satin are not great for airflow. Avoid panties that are too tight.
  • Try a quick pick-me-up. Sometimes you need to freshen up on-the-go. Use an unscented wipe or damp towel for a fast cleanse.

You know your vagina best. Call your doctor if something looks, feels, or smells off. They can help figure out what’s going on. And remember, vaginal odor is totally normal. So skip the douche and rock your unique flavor.