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Douching

Girl wearing a towel.

What is douching? Douching (say: DOO-sheeng) is squirting water or other fluids into the vagina.

Most doctors say not to douche. You may have heard that women sometimes douche to feel cleaner or rinse away blood after their periods. But douching can cause problems. That’s because douching changes the balance of natural chemicals and healthy bacteria in your vagina and can make it easier for you to get dangerous infections.

The vagina cleans itself on the inside with natural fluids, so it is not necessary to douche.

The best way to clean the outside of your vagina is to wash with warm water and gentle, scent-free soap during a bath or shower. Products you might see on TV or at the drugstore, such as feminine hygiene soaps, powders, and sprays, are not needed. And they may even harm or irritate you.

If you have any of the following problems, tell your doctor right away:

  • Itching in and near your vagina
  • Burning or pain in or near your vagina
  • Pain when you urinate
  • Discharge, or fluid, from your vagina that is not normal, such as thick and white (like cottage cheese) or yellowish-green and bad-smelling. Discharge changes throughout your menstrual cycle, but it normally looks clear, cloudy white, and/or yellowish. If you are not sure if your discharge or fluid is normal, have your doctor check you out.

 

Content last reviewed April 15, 2014
Page last updated May 27, 2014

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.

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