Douching and Pregnancy

Douching after sex does not prevent pregnancy. But research has shown that douching may affect a woman's ability to get pregnant. In women trying to become pregnant, those who douched the most often (more than once per week) had the lowest pregnancy rate. Other research has shown a link between frequent douching and having low birth-weight babies.
Studies also show that douching greatly increases the chance of ectopic pregnancy, which can be a life-threatening condition. Ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg attaches inside of the fallopian tube instead of in the uterus.

Cleaning the Vagina

Because the chemical balance of the vagina is highly sensitive, it is best to let the vagina clean itself. The vagina naturally does this through secretions of mucus. Warm water and gentle, unscented soap during the bath or shower is the best way to clean the outside areas of the vagina. Products like feminine hygiene soaps, powders, and sprays are not necessary, and may even be harmful.
It is important to see your healthcare provider right away if you have:
  • Vaginal pain, itching, or burning
  • A foul vaginal odor
  • Pain when urinating
  • A vaginal discharge that is not normal, such as thick and white (like cottage cheese) or yellow-green.
You may have a yeast infection, urinary tract infection, or bacterial infection, all of which can be treated. Do not clean the vagina or douche before an exam with a healthcare provider. This will wash away the vaginal discharge, which helps the healthcare provider determine the type of infection.
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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