Women who douche frequently in the belief that it's a healthy practice may actually increase their risk for yeast infections by altering the vagina's pH balance. Routine douching is simply not necessary, since the vagina is able to clean itself.
Routine douching has been linked to an increased risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. PID can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes and result in infertility. If the infection spreads to the circulatory system, it can be fatal.
A 1990 study showed that women who douched three or more times per month were three-and-a-half times more likely to have PID than women who douched less than once a month. The symptoms of PID include fever, chills, lower abdominal pain or tenderness, back pain, spotting, pain during or after intercourse, and puslike vaginal discharge. In most cases, a woman does not show all of the symptoms listed. If you have any PID symptoms, consult a physician immediately.
Not only has routine douching been associated with an increased risk of PID, some researchers believe it may increase a woman's risk of developing cervical cancer.
The message is clear: While an occasional douche during an infection might be helpful, don't make a habit of douching.
For more yeast infection treatment information, see the links on the next page.