The folks at Summer’s Eve seem determined to convince women that douching is needed. This latest ad (see below) says some of the reasons are that the vagina is the cradle of life and men have fought and died for it. And of course, my favorite, douching is showing the vagina a little love. However, douching isn’t caring it’s damaging your vagina!
What this nifty commercial fails to mention that in the United States douches have to carry warning labels about the health risks, such as increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic infection, and scaring of the fallopian tubes that can potentially lead to infertility. Warning labels just like cigarettes. In fact, that’s just how you should think of douches…cigarettes for the vagina.
Douches are damaging because the chemicals (yes, even vinegar) damages lactobacilli, an essential bacteria for vaginal health. Lactobacilli produce hydrogen peroxide, which is toxic to infections such as HIV, as well as lactic acid, which maintains the pH of the vagina and has other important bad-bacteria/virus fighting properties. Lactobacilli also bind to the cells in the vagina forming a physical barrier to infection.
When the vagina is lactobacilli-deficient, the risks of catching an STD, like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV, increase dramatically if exposed. Gonorrhea and chlamydia can scar the fallopian tubes, leading to infertility, and can also cause severe pelvic infections. HIV, well, we all know what that does. Women who are lactobacilli-deficient are also more likely to develop bacterial vaginosis, a bacterial imbalance that can cause irritation and an odor, and yes, you guessed it, increased your risk of an STD if exposed. The irony of douching to treat odor is that by destroying the lactobacilli you are actually increasing odor, because lactobacilli control odor-causing bacteria.
So think of the lactobacilli as that important coating on a self-cleaning oven. It needs to be left well enough alone so it can do it’s thing.
“Why do they make douches if they are so dangerous?” This is a question I get asked repeatedly.
My answer, “Well, they make cigarettes, don’t they?”
And hey, marketing dudes/chicks at Summer’s Eve, when the vagina wants a little love, it’s not chemicals women want but sex! Just saying…