Tag Archives: douching

Vagina Atrophy – Really? ASK AN OBGYN

Dear SuzyKnew!,

It’s a little embarrassing to say, but I haven’t had sex in a long time… like almost two years.  A sista friend said to me, “use it or lose it”, and I’m beginning to think she is right.  When I masturbate with penetration it feels dry and scratchy down there.  Is she right?  Is it possible to lose it?  I should also say that I’m 45.  Is it possible I’m hitting menopause already?


Dear Reader,

It sounds like you may be experiencing some normal changes in your vagina, but don’t worry- it’s not going anywhere.  Our sex lives and reactions to sex change as we age and under different life circumstances.  Whether it’s sex with a partner or solo, it will be different for you at 45 than at 25, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t adjust gracefully.    At 45 your vaginal dryness is likely part of pre-menopause.  This is a good time to go to your doctor who will be able to evaluate all your symptoms and advise you about the changes to come.

Here are some common reasons for that dry and scratchy feeling- all of which can be treated.

  • Low Estrogen and Vaginal Atrophy- It isn’t pretty, but as we age, our vaginas age too. Around the age of 40, our estrogen levels start to decline.   Estrogen is responsible for keeping our vaginal tissue lubricated and elastic. Sometimes woman find penetration painful and have associated tears and bleeding.

There are over the counter products to treat vaginal dryness (lubricants, moisturizers), but it’s best to share your symptoms with your doctor so that you can be prescribed medication such as a topical estrogen gel.  This is a normal, but very real medical condition that needs to be discussed with your doctor.

  • Other Medications- If a medication dries out your mouth, nose or throat, you can expect that it will also dry out your vagina. Decongestants and allergy medications are major culprits. Cigarettes will also dry you out.  And if you suffer from heart disease, depression, seizures or are fighting cancer, many of these meds have side effects that interfere with sexual pleasure in both men and women.   Ask your doctor if there are different meds for your condition that do not have this side effect.
  • Irritants and Allergies- It’s worth checking your bathroom cabinet and laundry room to see if you are using products with perfumes or dyes that may be irritating to your sensitive vaginal tissue.   Eliminate all products with dyes and perfumes and above all do not douche or use any vaginal deodorants. (You know how our community likes to use some of these over the counter products…)
  • Low Arousal- When we are aroused, and feeling sexy, that’s the signal for our bodies to produce lubricant. You may not be giving yourself enough time or the right foreplay stimulation to get those juices flowing.  And as we age, we generally need more time.   Experiment, take more time in the bedroom, change up your routine, and see what happens. 

Now, all the physical stuff aside, there is a psychological component here.  If you are not routinely experiencing sex (either with a partner or solo), you can lose touch with your sexual self.   In this way, your friend that advised you to “use it or lose it” may be on to something.  Don’t let the symptoms you are experiencing prematurely cut off your sex life.   Speak to your doctor about your symptoms and embrace a new stage to your sexual journey.

Take Care.

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: www.womenshealth.gov

Keep the questions coming!  Info@suzyknew.com

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.


Straight Talk On Feminine Hygiene And Douching


Ladies, we know. Feminine hygiene is a delicate topic.  We all have feminine odor at some time or another, yet we don’t want to talk about it. But, up to 40 percent of women in the US douche. The practice is more common among African-American and Latina women. So, repeating the basics as well as providing a few good links to US government health sites for reference can go a long way to helping us stay healthy and fresh.

You’ve probably heard that all you need is some soap and water to stay fresh down there.  And, it’s true. Skip the douche and feminine spray asiles in the supermarket. And while douching after sex does not prevent pregnancy or getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), there is research that shows that douching could adversely affect your pregnancy.  The US Department of Health does not recommend douching and states that it can be harmful. The dangers associated with douching include vaginal irritation, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and bacterial vaginosis. Most doctors and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that you do not douche.

The US health department also recommends staying away from all those scented soaps, powders and sprays as well. But what about these new feminine hygiene or intimate wipes, which are made to clean only the outside of the vagina? Now there are even organic wipes that avoid the use of petrochemcials often linked to skin irritation.  The US government web sites are silent on these products.

But, in short, vaginas are suppose to smell like – well, a vagina.  If your odor changes, it could be due to too much douching, an infection or an STI.  If it smells like you’re baking bread downstairs, it could be a yeast infection. If the odor is very strong, it could be bacterial vaginosis, the most common infection among women of childbearing age. So, when it’s not your regular every day odor that every lady has from time to time, consult your doctor.

Read more on these US government health sites:

From the US Department of Health

Douching Fact Sheet: http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/douching.cfm#h

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/sexually-transmitted-infections.cfm

From the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Bacterial Vaginosis: http://www.cdc.gov/std/BV/STDFact-Bacterial-Vaginosis.htm