One More Reason Why You Should Let Your Vagina Clean Itself

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Thousands of Women still douche despite assurances from health practitioners that a healthy vagina has an effective self cleaning mechanism. Douching not only has few known benefits, it also increases the risk of reproductive system's infections in women like the pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, bacterial vaginosis as well as pregnancy complications. This is according to Ami Zota, a Milken School of Public Health at George Washington University researcher, and the lead study author of a small research that sort to explore the connection between douching and two industial chemicals commonly found in cosmetic products, DEP and di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP).

The 739 women who took part in the study were between 20 and 49 years, more than half of them being obese or overweight. Though many of the women said they had not douched in 6 months, a large percentage admitted to douching at least twice a month, a majority being black women.

Urine tests were done to determine the phthalate exposure and the more the women douched, the higher their exposure to a form of diethyl phthalate (DEP). According to Zota, phthalatesare chemicals of concern to women's health as they are suspected to be endocrine disruptors and can alter the action of important hormones such as testosterone, estrogen and thyroid hormones.

Women who reported to have douched at least once in the last month had 52% higher concentrations of DEP while those who had douched at least twice a month had 152% higher levels than women who do not douche.


No connection was found between douching and di-n-butyl phthalate (DnB), just like there was no link between DEP and other feminine hyegine products like tampons, pads, sprays, powder, sanitary towels or towelettes.

Reading the label to determine whether douching products contain phthalates is absolutely unnecessary. Unless instructed by your doctor to do so while treating a vaginal infection, women should not douche at all as this disrupts the normal levels of healthy bacteria, said Dr. Sten Vermund, assistant vice chancellor for global health at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.


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