Are Douches Safe During Pregnancy?
Vaginal douches are basically a vaginal cavity flush. They're designed to rinse the vagina by forcing a sterile solution or water into the cavity to flush out vaginal discharge. Sometimes douches are scented. Many are available over-the-counter or by prescription. Sometimes douches are referred to as vaginal deodorant.
Douche Appeal During Pregnancy
Many women like the idea of using a vaginal douche during pregnancy because pregnancy can significantly increase vaginal discharge. This discharge can sometimes make a woman feel dirty and the idea of reducing the amount of discharge with a beautifully scented product is appealing.
The vagina is a self-cleaning unit and doesn't need to be artificially cleaned. In fact, many studies indicate there are huge health disadvantages for any woman, pregnant or non-pregnant, who uses a vaginal douche.
The biggest disadvantage is that douches disturb the natural and delicate chemical balance in the vagina. Disrupting this delicate balance can make a woman more likely to get infections by washing away the body's natural bacteria fighting secretions and by introducing new bacteria into the vagina. This bacterium can spread to the fallopian tubes, cervix and uterus or disrupt the mucus plug most pregnant women have.
Douches cause a higher risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) - a potentially fatal infection of one or more of the pelvic organs -- and bacterial vaginosis (a vaginal bacteria imbalance) which can cause preterm delivery, infections in the baby and labor problems.
How Does the Vagina Clean Itself?
The fluids created from glands inside your cervix and vagina carry old cells that have lined the vagina. The discharge is usually minimal in non-pregnant women and can be clear or milky. It doesn't smell bad unless you have an infection. Hormone levels and sexual arousal increase the amount of discharge which is why pregnant or breastfeeding women typically have more vaginal discharge.
It's especially important to see your doctor if you have a vaginal infection when you're pregnant because you don't want the bacteria to travel to your unborn child or to irritate the cervix and cause pre-term labor. Discharge stained with blood when you're pregnant could be a sign of an early or late-term miscarriage or it could mean nothing. The only way to know for sure is to visit your doctor.
You should also never experience vaginal itching, burning or pain whether or not you're pregnant. Douching will not fix this. Any unusual chemical balance or problems is more concerning when you're pregnant because you don't want to transfer any infection to the baby so see your doctor as soon as possible if you experience these symptoms.