Dear SuzyKnew Obgyn,
Can I get pregnant if I douche right after sex? I mean like only 15 minutes after we finish?
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.