Shop shelves are full of products promising to make women smell fresh and clean ‘down there’, however some research shows that douching with products to ‘clean’ the vagina can double your chances of getting ovarian cancer.
The study, titled Douching, Talc Use, and Risk of Ovarian Cancer, focused on 50 884 women in the US and Puerto Rico who had a sister diagnosed with breast cancer. Participants were asked about douching and talc use during the previous 12 months. The women were between the ages of 35 to 74 years old and were cancer-free when they reported for the study.
According to Reuters, the following year, 154 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer. What was shocking was that the women who admitted to douching the previous year almost doubled their risk of developing ovarian cancer, the study found.
South African women are not immune to douching.
According to a book published in 2009 titled HIV/AIDS in South Africa 25 Years On: Psychosocial Perspectives, douching happens for a number of reasons.
Dry sex or vaginal douching is practised for increasing the sexual pleasure of men, the authors say.
According to the research, this is done in a manner of ways. Women clean their vaginas with a number of concoctions such as antiseptics and detergents, or put traditional herbs inside their vaginas. Sometimes women insert paper or cotton wool after sexual intercourse to dry and tighten their vaginas.
In a previous interview with DESTINY, sex expert and life coach Jade Zwane explained why women felt the need to sanitise their vaginas.
“Historically, women have been taught to keep their legs shut tight, as sex is only for the pleasure of the male and purely for procreation on our part,” she said.
Zwane went on to explain that there are a number of damaging myths around women’s bodies that perpetuate the idea that they are unsanitary and need cleaning. These include the idea that the vagina is dirty and it stinks.
“They’re actually self-cleaning, and every woman has her own scent. There’s also the belief that if a woman doesn’t have a ‘tight’ vagina, it means she’s promiscuous,” she said.
Besides an increased risk of cancer, douching has other risks. According to WebMD, douching is also linked to illnesses such as vaginal infections (bacterial vaginosis) because it interrupts the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina.
Douching is also linked to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
“PID is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and/or ovaries. Research has found that women who douche may have a 73% higher risk of getting PID,” according to WebMD.
Sources: Reuters, WebMD, Destinyconnect