Vaginal Odor and Douching

Q&A with Dr. Gardos

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I am worried about my vaginal odor. I was wondering if douching will help or if there is some danger from doing so.


You are not alone in your concern about odor — studies show that many women are worried about how they might smell. But the reality is that the human body has a number of natural odors. As a culture, we seem to forget this.

The reality is that the vagina is self-cleaning through normal secretions. Ordinary external bathing is all that is required to maintain good hygiene. Douching is not only not medically necessary, but can actually be quite harmful. The vagina contains a healthy mix of microbes, good bacteria, and other forms of flora. Douching upsets this balance and also alters the normal Ph level. Indeed, despite the enormous yearly sales of “feminine hygiene products,” regular douching has been associated with increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, infections, cervical cancer, and even lowered fertility.

Douching (as well as “feminine deodorant products”) can serve to mask, or even aggravate, the symptoms of various conditions, such as bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection. If you notice any unusual discharge or a strong odor, you should speak to your doctor who can check for any underlying conditions and treat them appropriately. But trying to cover up what is a natural smell, is not a good idea in this case.

Dr. Sandor Gardos signature

MyPleasure provides up-to-date and useful sexual education materials in combination with a store that allows people to buy, try, and learn about new aspects of sexuality. We believe everybody deserves a great sex life.

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