ASK AN OBGYN: Can I Get Pregnant If I Douche After Sex?

Dear SuzyKnew Obgyn, 

Can I get pregnant if I douche right after sex? I mean like only 15 minutes after we finish?



Dear Precious,

Yes. You can still get pregnant if you douche after sex.

Douching with over the counter products such as Summer’s Eve, Massengill or Tiny Kit are not a method of birth control.

I am glad you asked about douching, because it is an often-misunderstood practice, and one that has associated risks.

A review of medical literature from 2004-2008[i] shows that douching is associated with problems with pregnancy, bacterial vaginosis (BV), as well as serious diseases such as cervical cancer and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).  Douching can also put women at increased risk for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.  Douching can cover up symptoms of an infection or serious condition, which can make some ladies wait before seeking treatment.

The American Congress of Obstetrician and Gynecologists (ACOG), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health (HRSA), all recommended that women do not douche.   For another SuzyKnew piece on the topic see Straight Talk On Feminine Hygiene.

Despite the messages from the medical community, douching is still practiced by an alarming number of women. A survey by U. of Rochester found that nearly one-third of American women aged 15-44 years old douche regularly, and douching is most common in teens, African-American and Hispanic women[ii]

Why do women still douche if we know the harmful effects?  One reason could be advertising campaigns aimed at minority women.   In 2010 and 2011, Summer’s Eve launched a controversial ad campaign chock full of racial and ethnic stereotypes.   One particularly demeaning aspect of the campaign was a print ad in Women’s Day magazine which linked using feminine hygiene products to achievement in the workplace.

As humans, we are highly influenced by cultural health practices and peer pressure.   If our mother and aunties douched, then we likely got the message that we need to douche as well.

My message for you and all SuzyKnew readers:  Your vagina has its own way of naturally keeping clean.  If you experience symptoms like foul odor, itching, pain or irritation with sex or urination, visit your medical provider to rule out an infection or other serious condition.

For more information:

Keep the questions coming!

S. Brockman, RN, MPh.


ASK AN OBGYN is not meant to be a substitute for your doctor or health care provider. Contact your provider with any health issues you may have.




[i] Cottrell, B. An Updated Review of Evidence to Discourage Douching.  The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing.  March/April 2010. v. 35, n. 2, p. 102-7.

[ii] Science News 1999.  v. 155, n. 1, p. 7.


One response on “ASK AN OBGYN: Can I Get Pregnant If I Douche After Sex?

  1. LavendarGirl

    Thanks for clearing up the message about douching. I’ve had so many mixed messages throughout my life about this issue.

    I was taught the exact opposite about douching by my Mom. My mom said douching was for women who have a lot of sex with different men which makes their vagina dirty. (Now I’m not exactly sure how accurate that comment is but it might make sense if the body can’t naturally keep up with say cleaning the vagina of a prostitute.) Mom told us that we were not to have sex until we were married!! and that our vagina could naturally clean itself. Now my mom at the time was just a nurse’s aide.

    Once in jr. high school I was made fun of by some of my classmates because I was not douching!! I couldn’t believe their ignorance! Why on earth would these girls who are just now getting their periods be already douching!I I didn’t even know what douching was until jr. high! LOL Seriously if the side effects of douching is this serious then it is necessary to be educated.

    The first boyfriend I had sex with was a medical doctor. He even told me that I didn’t need to douche and that soap and water was all I needed.

    Later in life a guy I was sexually active with was talking about our sex life with his best friend and his friend’s wife who was a nurse working as a nurse supervisor in an administrative position at the hospital. This means she had a graduate degree in Nursing or something medical related. He had the audacity to tell them that I didn’t douche. He told me they were laughing at me and the wife acted disgusted. I couldn’t believe it! By then I had done some reading and learned that it wasn’t necessary. I even douched once and nothing unclean rinsed out. I asked the guy if he defended me and told them that my vagina was clean and only had the natural vagina scent. My ex even complimented me on how clean and unsmelly my vagina was prior to that stupid conversation! Evidently he assumed since she was a nurse that she knew better. I didn’t buy it and stuck to my non douching practice. I’ve never had serious odor problems. I’ve never even had a yeast infection until I was 31!