I was recently told by a friend it’s not safe to douche, because it does more harm than good. Is this true?

Your friend is right. Douching (cleaning your vagina with just water, vinegar or a pre-packaged liquid) isn’t necessary and can actually be harmful. A woman’s body naturally makes a fluid that flushes out harmful bacteria, menstrual blood and semen. Douching changes the normal environment (pH) which upsets the balance of bacteria that normally exist in the vagina. This can lead to a vaginal infection such as BV- bacterial vaginosis.  If a woman has a sexually transmitted infection, douching puts her at a much higher risk of developing a serious condition called “pelvic inflammatory disease” or PID. Douching can also cause problems trying to become pregnant and preterm labor if a woman douches during her pregnancy.

Doctors don’t recommend douching. Rather they advise women to wash their vulva and the area around the vaginal opening with warm water and mild soap. Nothing should be placed in the vagina such as soap, or any scented or unscented liquids. See your health care provider if your vagina has an unpleasant odor and/or discharge from your vagina that’s different for you, redness/swelling around the opening to your vagina or burning when you pee. If you have “vaginitis” (BV or yeast infection), or a sexually transmitted infection (STI), your HCP will prescribe treatment.