Douching is a method of gently flushing the vagina or anus with water or solutions. Regular douching is not recommended, as it can upset the balance of naturally occurring bacteria and cause small tears or irritation in the vaginal and anal walls, leaving you more open to infection. If you do choose to douche, you should avoid using soaps or harsh chemicals. Douching after a condom breaks may force semen and possible STIs further inside. It can also introduce new bacteria into the vagina that can cause serious infections. An association between vaginal douching and pelvic inflammatory disease (PlD) and ectopic pregnancy has been found in recent years. If vaginal discharge is concerning, seek medical advice rather than douching.
Tips for Safer Douching
- Never share douching equipment.
- Make sure the douching liquid is body temperature (lukewarm).
- Always use a clean douche every time and if using a reusable douche, clean your douching equipment with soapy water after each use.
- Do not use soaps or anything but plain water in the douche, as this can cause irritation in your vaginal or anal cavity and increase the likelihood of an infection entering your bloodstream.
- Douche at least 45 minutes before sexual activity to give your body time to relubricate and in the case of anal douching, time for all water to fully evacuate.
- Use lubrication when inserting the douche and during intercourse to reduce any damage to your vaginal or anal cavity.
- Avoid over-douching as it can disturb the normal function of vaginal and anal cavity, such as constipation or bacterial imbalance.
- Use safer sex practices when having sex, as the delicate mucous lining in your vaginal and anal cavity has been disturbed which increases your body’s vulnerability to abrasions, tears and absorbing infections.
- For more tips including information on enemas, see Anal Health.