Up to 40 percent of women between 15 and 44 years old in the U.S alone consider douching important to their vaginal hygiene.
Most women use water, while others use different solutions such as apple cider vinegar. If you are wondering how you can do it and whether it is safe, we have you covered right below.
There’s a lot of information claiming that douching is liked with vaginal infections (such as yeast and bacterial vaginosis). Some even claim it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and pregnancy complications. But is it true?
What is vaginal douching?
Douching is a method of washing out the vagina mostly using a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar or iodine or baking soda. The act of douching is derived from the French word douche whose English equivalent is soak or wash.
- The process involves spraying the douching liquid
- While you may prepare your own douche, you can buy some from beauty shops.
- through a tube upwards the vagina.
- Commercial ones often have fragrances and antiseptic properties, unlike the homemade ones.
Is it safe?
If done correctly, it is a safe procedure (to some extent) that can achieve a clean vagina. Given that you would be inserting an object into the vagina, you just need to be careful about how you do it.
When inserting the tube, you have to do it slowly and correctly to avoid injuring the walls of the vagina.
Most doctors recommend that you DO NOT douche as it is not safe entirely. The reason behind this is that vaginal douching interferes with the pH of the vagina. This then changes the balance of vaginal flora or bacteria living in the vagina. The result is being vulnerable to infections.
Besides the insertion and treatment procedures, it increases the risk of having some diseases or conditions such as infections.
Possible complications may include:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Vaginal infections such as bacterial vaginosis
- Difficulty getting pregnant
- Increased risk of developing cervical cancer
Studies have shown that the risks associated with douching are more than the benefits. While the procedure itself is quite safe, the risks are enough to dissuade most people from attempting it.
What is the purpose of douching?
What is it used for?
Although scanty evidence exists as far as the benefits of vaginal douching are concerned, it is widely used for the following reasons:
- Getting rid of bad odor from the vagina
- Preventing some sexually transmitted diseases
- Washing away any remaining menstrual blood at the end of a period
- To prevent pregnancy after sex
- Get rid of an itch from an infection
- To increase chances of conceiving a specific gender of a child
Most of these aspects are simple beliefs with no supporting evidence behind them. Most of them are false and unnecessary given that the vagina has its own natural mechanisms to clean itself and do away with odors. Douching does not prevent a pregnancy but may reduce the chances of you getting pregnant.
How to make a vaginal douche
Before delving into the details of the preparation of a vaginal douche, you need to know about the composition of the vagina, the types of douches, and which ones will be the best for your specific need.
While there is a general negativity about this practice, learning of these details will help you avoid mistakes that increase the risks associated with it.
The vagina has flora which is responsible for its general health. It is acidic in nature with the acid playing a major role in killing off harmful microorganisms and promoting the growth and thriving of healthy microorganisms such as bacteria. In this way, the vagina is able to clean itself without much help from douches or other substances.
There are two types of douches namely acidic and alkaline.
- The acidic rinses are made from acidic substances and have the purpose of increasing the acidity of the vagina.
- On the other hand, the alkaline ones are made from alkaline substances and have the purpose of reducing the acidity (or increasing the alkalinity) of the vagina.
While largely unproven, there is the belief among a good number of people that the use of acidic rinses increases their chances of conceiving a girl while the alkaline ones help them conceive boys. Probably it is about the effects of the acid and base (alkaline) on the sperm although no evidence exists to support this.
1. How to make an acidic douche
Although the vagina is naturally acidic in nature, the level of acidity goes down before and during a period. When this happens, you are rendered vulnerable to infections yeast infections etc.
To artificially boost the acidity of the vagina and remain safe from these infections, you can use an acidic rinse such as that made by mixing apple cider vinegar and water. Here’s how to make a vaginal douche with apple cider vinegar.
- Mix two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in two cups of water without warming the water.
- Using a vaginal syringe bulb or a douchebag, rinse your vagina with the mixture.
- Repeat each day for a week.
Avoid heating or even warming the mixture as some mistakenly do.
2. Making a basic douche
Also called buffer or baking soda douches, this alkaline rinse has been believed to increase the chances of getting a girl when used during the ovulation period.
- Mix two tablespoons of baking soda with 4 cups of clean water.
- Use a douchebag to rinse the vagina.
- Repeat daily for about 7 days.
How to do a vaginal douche
The process is not complex in any way. Having prepared the douche of your choice as shown above, you can use either a vaginal bulb syringe or a douchebag to do the job. Make sure the type of device you use is clean and only used by a single person (you alone).
Using a vaginal bulb syringe
A vaginal bulb syringe is the most popular method of vaginal douching. As seen in the image above, it consists of a rubber ‘bulb’ at one end and a mildly flexible tube on the other end. To use it, follow these steps:
- Squeeze the rubber part of the syringe to create suction power.
- Insert the tube end of the syringe into the douche solution you have prepared.
- Release the tension in the rubber end to suck the solution into the rubber chamber.
- Lay on your back.
- Slowly insert the tube end of the syringe into the vagina until the rubber part touches the lips of your vagina.
- Press the rubber part of the syringe slowly until all the liquid has been emptied out into the vagina.
- Wait for a few minutes.
- Slowly remove the tube from the vagina.
- Then sit up to release the liquid and dry the lips of the vagina.
You can finish the process by washing the lips of the vagina with the same solution, waiting for a few minutes (about 15) then repeating the process but this time with clean water to rinse out the liquid.
Using a douchebag
A douchebag is shown in the picture above. It features an expandable bag that is filled with the liquid then squeezed into the vagina. Using it is similar to the vaginal bulb syringe in many ways. Follow the steps below to do a vaginal rinse using a douchebag.
- Pour the douching liquid into the douchebag from the wide end. Make sure the little tap at the end of the bag is shut as you pour the solution.
- Hang the douchebag with the end holding the pipe on the lower side. Make sure you can reach the bag when laying on your back.
- Lay on your back and insert the end of the pipe until the tap touches the lips of your vagina.
- Release the tap and squeeze the bag just enough for it to push enough liquid into the vagina. If you are wondering how much, most douchebags have calibrations of how much liquid you need on average for each process.
Once done, repeat the process but with water to rinse out the liquid.
Never leave the liquid in your vagina for too long no matter your purpose for douching.
Douching with apple cider vinegar
Is it safe to douche your vagina with this acidic solution?
Apple cider vinegar is a remedy for many issues of the female reproductive system owing to its chemical composition. It is acidic in nature hence one of the acidic douches you can readily have.
The use of apple cider vinegar for vaginal rinsing is safe if done right. There are various aspects you should consider while using this remedy for douching including the following:
- Make sure you find apple cider vinegar that is natural or organic. The fact that the vagina is acidic in nature does not in any way mean that it will stand any form of severe acidic abuse. Keep it natural to have the desired results without any side effects.
- Always remember to flash out the solution with clean water after the process.
- You have the option of drinking the vinegar or using it directly in your vagina for most issues such as bacterial vaginosis, yeast and a foul vaginal smell. Although quite bitter and strong in the stomach, drinking it has fewer risks compared to douching with it.
- You also have the option of soaking a tampon in a solution of apple cider vinegar for about 15 minutes then inserting the tampon into the vagina for around a maximum of 2 hours. Do not forget to remove the tampon.
- Avoid using your bare hands to insert the vinegar solution into the vagina. It will be a waste of time and your fingers may introduce germs into the canal.
If you follow these guidelines, you will have nothing to worry about as far as using this remedy for vaginal rinsing is concerned.
Treating a yeast infection
Vaginal douching with apple cider vinegar has many benefits which include helping restore the pH of the vagina and fighting off infections such as bacterial vaginosis and yeast.
Due to its acidic nature, it is able to increase the acidity of the vagina to fight off these infections since they thrive in alkaline (or generally less acidic conditions).
Using apple cider vinegar to get rid of a yeast infection is not different from the normal rinsing procedure.
Only this time, you should repeat the process every day for up to 10 days to get rid of the candida infection.
The vinegar solution will make the vagina more acidic leading to the elimination of yeast infection.
Douching with water
Water is also a good liquid to use. Unlike the solutions discussed above, water does not have an acidic or basic chemical setup or even a smell and color that may harm you as a side effect.
Also, unlike the other solutions, water may be warmed a bit. Most cases of rinsing with water are during a pregnancy given that a lot of discharge is observed during a pregnancy more than other times.
Water is mostly used to simply clean the vagina without any medical implications. Here’s how to douche with water.
- Fill up a douching device with enough water for a single session of rinsing.
- Lay on your back.
- Insert the device as needed then squeeze the water into the vagina.
- Dab the vagina dry after this procedure.
Douching with hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a common antiseptic agent used to disinfect wounds by many people. It can thus be used as a douchebag agent if diluted since the solution you buy from the shop is too concentrated for use inside the vagina. Most will use the diluted hydrogen peroxide for treating yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.
Before using it, you need to dilute about 10ml of a 3% solution in a cup of water. Then follow the process outlined in the sections above.
Given the nature of this chemical, you need to take into account the following aspects before you use this solution:
- Go for a hydrogen peroxide solution without any additives such as perfumes or colorants. This is because these substances may only make your condition worse.
- If you buy the agent in your local pharmacy with the primary focus on using it for vaginal douching, the package will have the instructions on how to mix water with the peroxide for rinsing your vagina. Follow these instructions to the letter for the best results.
- When inserting the device, be careful not to harm your vaginal wall by doing it slowly and steadily. If you cannot do it yourself, have someone else do it for you.
- When emptying the contents of the douchebag into the vagina, do it slowly until it is all squeezed out.
- You may not need to rinse out the solution after finishing.
If done correctly, using peroxide is a safe procedure.
In general, the risks and side effects associated with vaginal douching far outweigh the benefits of this procedure. They include;
- Frequent douching increases chances of having bacterial vaginosis.
- You are also more likely to have pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) if you douche frequently.
- Vaginal rinsing has also been known to increase the chances of having sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV.
- Dryness or irritation of the vagina is also one of the results of rinsing your vagina frequently.
- It can also make it hard getting pregnant.
- Preterm births are also increased when you douche too many times.
- Vaginal rinsing may also lead to problems of the fallopian tubes leading to ectopic pregnancies.
The most common products used include;
- Baking soda
- Apple cider vinegar
These products can be used using equipment such as;
- Vaginal bulb syringe
As you go for your specific product, keep in mind the following aspects;
- It should be clean. This holds true especially for items such as the vaginal bulb syringe and the douchebag which could easily infect you if they are less than clean.
- They should be natural as much as possible. Any artificial additives such as fragrances and colors may only irritate the vagina thus making the condition worse. Also, keep in mind to use the right quantity of the substance including the concentration and the amount of water you will need to dissolve the product.
- Use the products only as often as recommended. Most agents are to be used only once every day and for a maximum of 10 days or as directed by your physician.
Can you douche on your period?
While the fact that the vagina is more vulnerable to infections during your period due to a reduced acidity thus warranting douching for some women, the act when on your periods is mostly a waste of time.
As soon as you flash out the period, more of it will come back. The more sensible option is to wait until you are sure there is no more flow before douching. This is because the process only cleans the vagina when the menstrual discharge is from inside the womb (uterus).
Even with these aspects, douching is discouraged since most of its purposes are already performed by the body itself.
- Why Douching Is Bad – Negative Effects of Douching – Good Housekeeping