If you’re the proud owner of a vagina, you have given a thought to how you should be best keeping it clean and healthy. And, if you’ve spent any time in the public school system, you’ve probably heard the word ‘douche’ thrown around. What is a douche exactly?
Well, we’re here to tell you that while a ‘douche’ doesn’t just refer to the guy that snaps people’s bra straps, you should probably keep them both away from your vagina.
What is a Vaginal Douche?
The word ‘douche’ literally comes from the French word for ‘shower’ and it means to wash the vagina (that is, the inside part, not the vulva) with water or a mixture of other liquids. There are plenty of ‘home-recipes’ for vaginal douches using everything from vinegar to baking soda to peroxide (yikes).
There are also quite a few products marketed for the purpose sold in drug stores. It’s estimated that some 1 in 5 American women douche—but here’s why doctors don’t recommend it.
Why is Douching Dangerous?
Your vagina is a host to a delicate balance of good and bad bacteria (called vaginal flora) and has a specific pH when healthy. Using douches can not only upset this ideal acidity, but can also cause more harmful bacteria to grow. This can cause bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections, which can then also spread to other parts of your reproductive organs.
It can even lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.
Even water, which has a pH of 7, is more basic than your vagina’s normal acidic state. We aren’t going to get into what ‘basic’ behavior is or isn’t (we love a PSL) but when it comes to your vagina, between 3.8 and 4.5 is healthy!
So How Do I Clean My Vagina?
The good news is—you don’t! Your vagina does its own self-cleaning, which accounts for some of the vaginal discharge you see throughout the month. It’s recommended that you just stick to warm water for cleaning your vulva, and let your vagina handle the rest.
If you’re worried about odor, then talk to your doctor, as this could be a sign of infection. And, it’s possible that you’re just noticing totally normal vagina scent! Really, when someone asks ‘what is a douche,’ the shorter answer can be ‘a product marketed to make us feel bad for our natural bodies.’
Leave the flowery chemicals out of your vagina and embrace its amazing abilities to keep things running smoothly!
Lane Baumeister is an internationally-based Canadian writer with several years’ experience creating educational and entertaining articles that discuss intimate health and sexual well-being. When not waxing profound about menstruation, she devotes herself to enjoying extremely good food and equally bad movies.