Fortunately, fewer and fewer women are still in the habit of douching. While it might make you feel cleaner in the moment, it can actually have a negative effect on your fertility if you’re trying to conceive. In fact, reduced fertility is only one of many negative side effects associated with douching. If you douche regularly and are trying to have a baby, stop as soon as possible. Studies show that women who douche have a more difficult time getting pregnant than those who don’t.

The reason douching affects fertility is that women who douche usually are unaware that they have an infection or STD because the constant douching covers up the symptoms. Odor, discharge, and itching are all signs of infection that are successfully covered up by the act of douching. Many STD’s cause infertility, so ignoring them will only make your attempts at conception futile. On the other hand, if you know that you have an STD, you and your doctor can work on treating it and enhancing your fertility.

Not only can douching lead to an inability to conceive. It has also been linked with preterm delivery and birth defects. Basically, douching throws off the natural balance of your reproductive organs. Your body regulates the amount of bacteria at any given moment, and douching offsets that balance completely. Since an offset balance has been linked with preterm delivery, it’s important that you maintain it as much as possible.

If you are trying to conceive a healthy baby, douching is the last thing you should be doing regularly. If you feel like you need to cleanse yourself thoroughly after intercourse, simply take a shower as you normally would. Douching is an unnatural process, and the body does not need to be that deeply cleaned regularly. If you do notice a foul odor or discharge, see your gynecologist as soon as possible. Douching will not cure an infection or STD, it will only hide the symptoms as the problem grows worse. By taking care of the problem quickly, you can minimize the damage and prevent the possibility of permanent infertility. Also, talk to your gynecologist about ways to clean your vagina without douching. Once the possibility of infection has been ruled out, the cleaning process should be simple and easy, and it won’t interfere with your ability to conceive a healthy and happy baby that grows to term.

Source: Donna Day Baird et al: Vaginal Douching and Reduced Fertility. American Journal of Public Health Volume 86 Issue 6 June 1996

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