It seems that of all of the supposed “no-no” activities when trying to conceive I did most of them. I liked my caffeine and glass of wine, I rarely remembered to take folic acid or vitamins, I didn’t eat the diet advised and therefore was not at the optimal weight – the list goes on. One thing, though, that showed up constantly as a “don’t” was the advice not to douche – something I have never done and kind of skipped over because it didn’t really apply to me. I have since learned, however, that 20 to 40 percent of women in the United States douche regularly and half of those do it as often as once a week. That is quite a few people and inevitably some of those are women struggling to conceive. Obviously, the advice to not douche is necessary on the list of things to avoid when trying to conceive and attention needs to be drawn to the detrimental affects of douching on fertility.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all women refrain from douching. Women who are trying to conceive are especially warned against the practice since there does seem to be a connection between infertility and douching. Limited research suggests that it takes women who douche longer to conceive. The particular danger of douching in regards to fertility is that it makes a woman more susceptible to infection. Additionally, if an infection is present douching makes it more likely to spread to the fallopian tubes, uterus and ovaries.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is an infection that is caused by bacteria traveling from the vagina and cervix to the reproductive organs – which can happen when douching. PID can cause fertility problems, increases chances of ectopic pregnancy and can lead to problems during pregnancy if conception is successful. Many women douche because they want to eliminate an odor, itchiness, discharge, or other vaginal problem. If you have any of those issues it could be an infection like Bacterial Vaginosis or an STD. If allowed to continue, and masked by continual cleansing through douching, fertility can be severely impacted. Infections such as BV or PID not only cause problems conceiving, but also with early delivery of babies to moms with infections, labor problems, and babies with infections themselves. This link is so serious that gynecologists and obstetricians state that ignoring signs of infection puts your fertility at risk.
If you are douching because it makes you feel fresher, or cleaner, or because you mistakenly believe it is necessary after your period or because it will prevent a STD, and you are trying to conceive – stop! If you have a fishy odor, grayish discharge, itching, burning or sores you need to see your doctor to rule out infection. Douching seems to do way more harm than good when it comes to fertility. Moreover, if you are douching in an effort to cover-up the symptoms of an infection you could really be gambling with your fertility big-time.