Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng answers your sex questions
Q: I've heard that many women use vaginal douches. Is this necessary? I want to know what dangers are associated with this practice.
A: There are many reasons why people practice douching: for personal hygiene or aesthetic reasons, for preventing or treating an infection, to cleanse after menstruation or sex and to prevent pregnancy.
Overall, the risks of douching far outweigh the benefits. The simple answer is you should avoid douching.
Having some vaginal odour is normal. Vaginal odour can change at different times of the menstrual cycle and shouldn't always be thought of as being a sign of infection or illness. The natural acidity of the vagina is necessary to control bacteria and douching upsets the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina (called vaginal flora). These changes make the environment more favourable for the growth of bacteria that cause infection.
Studies have found that women who stopped douching were less likely to have pelvic inflammation/infection of the vagina, clitoris, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Douching has been linked to an increased difficulty in getting pregnant compared to those who don't douche. Douching may also increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.
Washing with water and a plain soap should be all you need to keep your vagina healthy.
• Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng (MBChB), sexual and reproductive health practice, DISA Clinic, 011-886-2286, visit safersex.co.za
5 FAQS ABOUT SEX ANSWERED
Do you have a question about sex? E-mail your questions to email@example.com with SEX TALK as the subject. Anonymity assured.