Just douche? No! Think Before You Douche.

To douche or not to douche? That is the question. And it’s a question that’s been up for much debate. On one hand, douching is a way to clean the vagina—especially from semen after sex or sand at the beach. On the other, douching has been associated with various health risks, including pelvic inflammatory disease, bacterial vaginosis and other sexually transmitted infections. So what’s a woman to do?

The first thing to note is that your vagina does a really good job of cleaning itself, unless a trigger like sex or menstruation sets a pH imbalance in motion. Vaginas are full of lactobacilli or good bacteria that naturally balance pH levels and ward off infection. If you do opt to douche, realize that not all douches are created equal. In a 2000 study at The University of Illinois at Chicago, it was shown that products made primarily of water and vinegar had almost no effect on the growth of essential vaginal lactobacilli in the vagina. Meanwhile, products made of antiseptics showed a significant inhibitory effect against all vaginal microorganisms tested, including vaginal lactobacilli, BV-associated pathogens, group B streptococci, and three Candida species. That’s right: the good stuff gets cleaned out along with the bad. Eliminating beneficial bacteria may cause other not-so-beneficial strains to take over. So it’s essential to assess your reasons for douching before moving forward.

If you’re experiencing vaginal odor and don’t think you have an infection, it may be caused by a pH imbalance, which a douche won’t fix alone. Vaginal pH should be around 4.3, but whenever the body experiences hormonal changes—during menopause, pregnancy or menstruation, for example—the vaginal environment changes, this number rises and susceptibility to vag issues increase. Douching alone can actually do more harm than good. Since water has a high pH level and douches are primarily water, can make that funky smell worse. To balance your vaginal pH immediately following douching, try RepHresh Gel to balance pH and eliminate odor causing bacteria. Or, RepHresh Clean-Balance comes with a 2-step kit to help remain fresh and odor free for three full days or more.