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To Douche or Not?
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Douching is a procedure of vaginal irritation in which fluid in a bag is permitted to run through a tube, entering the vagina under slight pressure and ballooning it out slightly. As the fluid runs out or is expelled through muscular action, the vaginal contents are washed out. Douching to prevent pregnancy after intercourse is totally ineffective, since it has been determined that sperm can be recovered from the uterus within seconds after being deposited in the vagina -- and no woman can get the douche bag apparatus set up and going that fast.

So much for douching as a method of birth control. If sperm can be recovered from the uterus within seconds, so can the germs of sexual disease. What of douching as a cleansing and freshening routine? Does it really work? "Douching is seldom essential for normal health because the vagina is self-cleansing through the process of normal discharge... To douche more than every 4 or 5 days is excessive, however, and it will destroy the normal physiology of the vagina."

The risk is that douching upsets the carefully balanced ecology of the vagina. Just as saliva helps to fight mouth infections, so vagina fluids help to fight internal infections. If there is a constant tide of water washing them out, this valuable mechanism of self-cleansing could become less effective.

However, with repeated love making, and/or repeated use of spermicides which feel sticky when they dissolve, the vagina can become uncomfortably damp. Some women only feel fresh when they have douched. Others douche if they believe the advertisements for commercial douche products, which imply that the natural sea odour of the vagina is somehow "unclean."

Studies show that at least 60 percent of women douche occasionally. The following are suggestions which can help:

  • Use lukewarm water, never hot.

  • Keep the bag low, no more than two feet above the hips.

  • Wait till the fluid is flowing before inserting the nozzle.

  • Consider having a douche while sitting on the toilet.

  • Insert the nozzle, and then hold the vulva lips tight.

  • Never squeeze the bulb-type bag hard.

  • Reduce douching to once a week at the maximum.

  • If the vagina is clogged with semen, use condoms in between.

  • Avoid douching if there is any chance of pregnancy.

  • Avoid if blood spotting appears after douching.

  • If pain and/or fever starts, see the doctor the same day.

  • Avoid heavy douching if there is infection; it can force the germs up into the uterus and tubes.

  • Douching can encourage an infection; it strips away the protective coating and kills normal, infection-fighting bacteria.

  • One quart water to one tablespoon of vinegar or bicarbonate of soda works as well and costs less than commercial products.

  • A vinegar douche helps restore the vagina's acidic PH.

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