Your Vagina Smells Fine – The Risks of Vaginal Cleansers
Originally, this article was titled “is douching safe?” However, after further investigation, I found out the answer to that question was absolutely not. In fact, all those artificially scented sprays and wipes that make you smell like anything but a vagina are bad for you. So, today I’m breaking down the myths and risks of vaginal cleansers.
What Is Douching?
Douching is the act of washing out the vagina with a mixture of water and some other substance, such as vinegar, baking soda, or iodine, to “clean it”. Douches are fairly common and are still in most vaginal hygiene product aisles today.
Those who douche believe it to have many benefits, such as cleaning the vagina, making it smell good, preventing STIs and pregnancy. Let it be known, none of these benefits hold any water and douching causes more harm than good.
The Facts about Douching
If the benefits of douching sound like snake oil to you, it’s because they are.
Douching, even on occasion, can increase the vagina’s chances of getting yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (73% more likely), and maybe even cervical cancer. To make matters worse, it can disrupt your natural PH balance, spread an already existing infection, and cause difficulties with pregnancy.
The truth of the matter is douching will not solve any issues the vagina is having in most situations; it will exasperate them.
What About External Cleansing Products?
I know what you may be thinking right now, a douche targets the inside of the vagina; therefore, if I use external sprays or wipes on my vulva, my vagina will be fine! Boy, do I wish that was true, but sadly, even things as small as the type of soap you use in your bubble bath can cause issues with the vagina. So, these chemical wipes and sprays don’t pass the safety test.
During my research, I found even more terrifying facts about the chemicals used in these products. If you ever look at the ingredients list for these wipes and sprays, you’ll notice almost all of them have one in common, fragrance. What is fragrance? Wouldn’t I like to know? Fragrance, as an ingredient, is just an umbrella term for a mix of chemicals that give the product a scent; what these chemicals are is a gamble. Unfortunately, one of the common chemicals found in these products is phthalates (to make the scent last longer) which have a notable history of causing health concerns. To add more salt to the wound, the ingredients used in these products can also irritate the skin of the vulva and reduce the bacteria that is needed to fight off yeast infections.
If Not Vaginal Cleansers, How do I Clean the Vagina?
You don’t! The vagina is self-cleaning, and if it is giving off a funky smell, it should be taken as a warning and not covered up. As for the vulva, just clean it during your regular bathing routine with warm water and a cloth (click the link for more info).
Let the Vagina do its job; it doesn’t need our intervention! In my adolescence and early 20s, I too believed the vagina needed to smell like fresh fruit and spring flowers. Trust me; I understood the appeal, but after a journey through self-acceptance, I realized I needed to trust my body, and it would do exactly what I needed. Its natural state is perfect as it is, and I’m lucky enough to have a partner who relishes in it. The risks of vaginal cleansers are way more trouble than they are worth, so embrace yourself, trust your body, even when it seems hard, and it won’t steer you wrong.