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DOUCHES & PREGNANCY
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Douching is rinsing or cleaning out the vagina (also called the birth canal) by squirting water or other solutions (such as vinegar, herbal solutions, baking soda, or douching solutions you can buy at drug and grocery stores) into the vagina. The water or solutions are held in a bottle and squirted into the vagina through tubing and a nozzle.
REASONS FOR DOUCHING
Douching is a practice that is thought to have been around since ancient times. Reasons women have given for using douches include:
- To rinse away blood after a menstrual period.
- Clean the vagina after sex to avoid sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Wash away semen to prevent pregnancy.
- Treat medical conditions.
- Reduce odors, change vaginal pH, and to feel clean inside.
Douching can be used as a medical therapy to treat various vaginal infections, such as candida (yeast), bacterial vaginosus (garnerella or hemophilus), or trichomonas. In some cases, a midwife or health care provider may instruct a woman to douche with a special solution to fight these types of chronic yeast and bacterial infections.
It is common for Women who douche say they "feel clean when they douche and dirty if they do not". A Pittsburgh study found that the habit of douching is typically passed down from mother to daughter or from another family relative.
DOUCHING AS A COMMON PRACTICE
Douching is a common practice among women in the United States - 37-percent of American women between the ages of 15 to 44 douche regularly. Of these women, about half douche on a weekly basis. Currently, almost 15-percent of adolescent girls and young women in the United States douche. Certain ethnic groups have much higher rates of douching than others. It is estimated that 1/3 of white women and 2/3 of black women douche. There is also an association between frequent douching and lower socio-economic status, especially in white women.
Other research data suggests that douching is predominantly done with commercial preparations (50-percent), while another 30-percent use a home preparation of vinegar and water, 10-percent use water alone, and 10-percent use other preparations. Douching is redominantly done for hygiene or to self-treat vaginal infections.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR DOUCHE
Douching with Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar can be very useful in soothing yeast infections naturally by making the vagina more acidic, killing yeast. Mix three tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar in one quart of water. You can get faster relief from the infection by adding two ounces of Colloidal Silver also in the water. Soak in this bath water solution for around fifteen to twenty minutes. After that, take a bath in normal water. Use an absorbent towel to dry the affected area afterwards. Since yeast fungus grows in moist warm environment, you can prevent its growth quite effectively just by wearing loose organic cotton clothing, including underwear. It will keep the oxygen moving and the unhealthy fungus will have a hard time to grow more.
DOUCHING ALTERNATIVES - VAGINAL SUPPOSITORIES
Probiotics, such as Acidophilus and Bifidus help prevent and suppress the growth of unhealthy microbial organisms, such as yeast infections. Consume supplements in proper dosages to restore proper gut flora. Probiotics are available to be used as vaginal suppositories, but oral supplements are more popular and easily available. You can use organic plain yogurt vaginally and topically to cure yeast infection. The yogurt used in this remedy must not contain any added sugar or other external ingredients. You can soak a tampon in plain yogurt and then insert it in the vagina for around two hours. Alternatively, you can apply 1 to 2 tablespoons of organic plain yogurt externally to the affected areas and also insert it into the vagina. It will restore flora and pH balance in the vagina, which will eventually relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of yeast infections.
Cranberries are a powerful natural remedy not only used for bladder infections, but also yeast infections. Drinking pure, organic, unsweetened Cranberry Juice will prepare your body to fight against unhealthy fungus growth more efficiently because it contains certain natural ingredients that can be very effective in restoring the health pH balance in the vagina (and in the bladder, if you are prone to bladder infections).
Tea Tree oil is a natural antifungal her that is a powerful remedy for yeast infections. It can help provide symptoms relief within 2 to 3 days by using a natural tampon or rolling gauze squares into a tampon shape and place a few drops of tea tree oil on it. Insert it into the vagina and keep it there for around 3 to 4 hours. at least twice daily. Do not sleep with the tampon is inserted.
Garlic contains powerful antibiotic, anti-bacterial and antifungal properties. Therefore, it can also be very beneficial in clearing up yeast infections. As per this remedy, you just have to eat several pieces of fresh garlic cloves everyday. Though it does not taste very good and you may even get bad breathe because of this, it will definitely help you get rid of yeast infections. Garlic can also be used as vaginal suppositories. Peel a clove of garlic and wrap a thin translucent piece of cotton cloth around it. You have to fold this thin gauze in half in such a way that it should look like a tampon. Insert this garlic tampon into the vagina and keep it there for around three to four hours. Do it at least two times everyday. This remedy is so powerful that yeast infections go away completely within just three to five days.
Boric Acid has also been found to be safe and very effective way to treat yeast infections naturally. However, you are advised to talk to your health care provider first before trying this remedy. If you are pregnant, you should not try it at all. But, in general, boric acid capsules can be used a vaginal suppository to soothe the fungal infection. You can prepare these capsules at home by filling size-0 gelatin capsules with boric acid powder. Insert one capsule into your vagina once daily. You will get rid of the infection within just five to seven days.
Thyme is a potent fungicide. The leaves and flowers of this plant are very beneficial in treating yeast infections. This herb belongs to the mint family. It contains flavonoids and volatile oil. You can apply it topically on the affected areas. You can make a tea and soaK a gauze tampon in it and use it as a vaginal suppository. Keep it in for about 3 to 4 hours, a few times daily.
Rosemary tea can be dabbed on the affected are externally as a natural remedy for yeast infections. You can make a tea and soaK a gauze tampon in it and use it as a vaginal suppository. Keep it in for about 3 to 4 hours, a few times daily. Rosemary tea can also be used a douche by mixing it with bath water or making a tea. Drinking 1 to 4 cups of Rosemary tea daily can also provide infection relief very effectively.
Health care providers and midwives do not recommend douching as the healthiest and safest way to routinely clean the vagina. Douching changes the delicate chemical balance in the vagina (and the vaginal flora), which can make a woman more prone to bacterial infections and may introduce new bacteria into the vagina and cervix. It also can spread existing vaginal or cervical infections up into the pelvic organs (uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries).
Research shows that women who douche on a regular (routine) basis actually tend to develop an increased amount of vaginal irritations and infections, called bacterial vaginosis (BV), and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) than women who do not douche or who rarely douche. These women also develop more cases of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) at an increased risk of 73-percent as compared to an estimated cumulative PID incidence of 10-percent in women up to 45 years of age. Women who douche at least once a week have a risk increased by about four times those who do not douche. PID is a chronic infectious disease affecting the woman's pelvic organs which include the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Sexually transmitted bacteria traveling from the woman's vagina and cervix into the uterus and other pelvic organs usually cause PID. If left untreated, PID can lead to infertility (not being able to get pregnant) and ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus). Both BV and PID may lead to serious problems during pregnancy, such as infection in the baby, problems with labor, and preterm (early) delivery.
When using a douche bottle/bag, do not use the enema tip for douching. Cross contamination from the enema tip may occur introducing unwanted intestinal bacteria into the vagina. Use only the vaginal tip (it is smaller and more comfortable) or use a disposable douche bottle with fitted tip (can be reused for home-made douching solutions once it has been cleaned and stored properly). When not in use, store tips separately in small sealable plastic bags. Always clean all equipment after use with soap and hot water to remove microbes and allow to air dry before storage. This will help prevent microbal contamination and reinfection.
Many health care professionals agree that there is a need for further research to find out if douching directly causes BV and PID and why adolescent girls and young women douche.
VAGINITIS: VAGINAL ITCHING, DRYNESS, OR IRRITATION
Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina. Most women will experience at least one episode of vaginitis in their lifetime, and many are plagued with episodes of itching, irritation, or discharge. The term "vaginitis" indicates symptoms and signs of inflammation - like redness or discharge - but doesn't tell us the origin of the problem. Causes of vaginitis (or the related condition, vulvitis, which involves inflammation of the vaginal lips) include bacteria, protozoa, fungi, hormonal changes, contact with irritants, and true allergic reactions.
PH LEVELS & BACTERIA CONNECTIONS
While you have probably never stopped to think about it, the vagina is an amazing structure. In the reproductive years, it must protect itself from infection if germs arrive, provide lubrication and sensation for intercourse, and be able to stretch open large enough to accommodate the birth of a full-term baby.
The function of the vagina changes through a woman's lifetime, from childhood through menopause and beyond, as the surface of the vagina responds to the hormonal changes that occur. In youth, when estrogen levels are low, the pH of the vagina is around 7 and the bacteria that live in the vagina are similar to those of the intestine. A child's vagina is not yet physiologically ready for intercourse and so is not as well protected as it will be later in life.
In adolescence and on into adulthood, under the influence of the hormone estrogen, the vaginal pH drops to around 4. This is a very acidic environment. This acidic pH protects the vagina from infection and promotes the growth of lactobacilli, the "good" bacteria that normally live there. The lactobacilli also help to prevent other sorts of bacteria from establishing themselves in the vagina.
In fact, strange as it may sound, the vagina can be scientifically described as a delicately balanced ecosystem, with the habitat being the vaginal walls under the influence of hormones and the inhabitants being the lactobacilli. If antibiotics, a change in hormones, or douching disturb that system, the environment may favor the growth of other organisms that lead to inflammation and irritation.
The problem can be compounded when the lower genital tract is exposed to any number of potential irritants, including bubble bath, soaps, laundry detergent or fabric softener residue, feminine hygiene products, and latex condoms.
Good vulvar care will prevent many cases of vaginitis. Many women who suffer from what they think are recurrent vaginal infections really have symptoms related to exposure to an irritant. To complicate matters, breaks in the skin or areas of inflammation can encourage the yeast organism that causes yeast vaginitis to set up shop. Preventing skin irritation can allay symptoms of vaginitis and prevent real yeast infections from developing.
Avoid douching. Douching is believed to wash the good bacteria out of the vagina and can upset normal vaginal pH levels.
Prevent rectal bacteria from entering the vagina. Back-to-front wiping after bowel movement or anal-then-vaginal sexual practices may deliver so many bacteria into the vagina that it overruns the protective lactobacilli, leading to bacterial vaginosis.
Use a condom. Condoms can protect against infection caused by the protozoan vaginitis called trichomonas and prevent many cases of genital herpes and papillomavirus (HPV) vulvar infections.
DOUCHING EFFECTS DURING PREGNANCY
Douching after sex does not prevent pregnancy. Sperm have the ability to reach the uterus and travel through the fallopian tubes before a woman can begin douching. But, research has shown that douching may affect a woman's ability to get pregnant (her fertility). In women trying to become pregnant (conceive), those who douched the most often (more than once per week) had the lowest pregnancy rate. Other research has shown a link between frequent douching and having low birth-weight babies. Studies also show that douching greatly increases the chance of ectopic pregnancy by 76 percent and those who use commercial douching preparations have a risk increased by about 4 times the usual incidence of etopic pregnancies. Ectopic pregnancy can be a life-threatening condition. Ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg attaches inside of the fallopian tube instead of in the uterus. Overall, women who douche have no significantly increased risk of cervical cancer. But those who douche at least once a week may have a significantly increased risk of about 86-percent. Frequency and timing of douching may influence outcomes such as when it is performed at an appropriate time in the menstrual cycle (not around ovulation) and done infrequently.
Standard douching techniques are NOT recommended during pregnancy (see below for a Pregnancy-Adapted douching Technique if douching becomes a medical need). Douching may lead to dislodging the mucous plug that is located in the cervix, acting as a barrier that seals the uterus away from the vagina and may also lead to membrane rupture. The antibiotics or douche solution may reach the intra-amniotic space and get transferred to the fetus. There is also a rare possibility of an air embolism occurring. It is also associated with an increased likelihood (about twice the chance of non-douching pregnant women) of preterm delivery (giving birth at 20 to 36 weeks) and increases the risk of infection for both the mother and the unborn baby. Douching itself does not trigger early delivery, but studies reveal that the douching disturbs the bacterial balance in the vagina, resulting in a mild infection called bacterial vaginosis (BV), that BV IS associated with an increased risk of pre-term delivery. In fact, women who douche at least once a month are 40 pecent more likely to develop BV. In some cases, women who develop BV treat it by douching, which may transport bacteria up into the reproductive tract.
NEVER douche or put anything into your vagina if you suspect your amniotic membranes (bag of waters) have broken. This can lead to a possible serious infection of both mother and unborn baby.
If you are pregnant, do not use any douching solution (including Apple Cider Vinegar, Herbal Teas, or Medicinal Solutions) without first consulting with your midwife or health care provider. Then, usually, the only form of douching advised in pregnancy may be with water acidifed with vinegar (there are exceptions to this for certain infections, but discuss it with your midwife first).
THE HEALTHIEST & SAFEST WAY TO CLEAN THE VAGINA
Because the chemical balance of the vagina is very sensitive, it is best to let the vagina clean itself. The vagina takes care of cleaning itself naturally through secretions of mucous. Warm water and gentle, unscented soap during the bath or shower is the best way to clean the sensitive outside areas of the vagina. Products like feminine hygiene soaps, powders and sprays are not necessary, and may actually be harmful to use.
It is important to see your midwife or health care provider right away when you have any vaginal pain, itching, burning, or a foul odor; pain when urinating; a vaginal discharge that is not normal, such as thick and white (like cottage cheese) or yellowish-green. You may have a yeast infection, urinary tract infection, or bacterial infection, all of which can be treated with medications or other holistic therapies. Do not clean the vagina or douche before an exam with your midwife or a health care provider. This will wash away the vaginal discharge, which helps the health care provider or midwife to determine the type of infection. Do not douche before you have a pap smear. This will wash away cervical cells that are necessary for pap testing.
DOUCHING DURING PREGNANCY - RECOMMENDED PROCEDURE
Douching during pregnancy is highly discouraged by most midwives and health care providers unless there is no other treatment that can be used safely. When douching in pregnancy, extra care must be taken to avoid forcing water (or other recommended solution) up into the uterus, dislodging the protective cervical mucus plug and causing infection and other problems.
If your midwife or health care provider recommends a douche during pregnancy for some therapeutic purpose, there are special steps you can take to keep potential problems to a minimum:
SAFE DOUCHING DURING PREGNANCY
Fill douche bag with cooled herbal tea or other recommended solution and attach cleaned vaginal tip.
Hang bag 10 inches or less from the floor.
Lay in the bathtub and gently insert the nozzle into the vagina no more than half way in.
Very gently release the hose clamp and allow solution to run in and out of the vagina, do NOT attempt to retain water in the vagina while pregnant.
When finished, clean the equipment thoroughly.
Douching should NEVER be attempted if there is any question that cervical dilation, placenta previa or prematurely ruptured membranes are present.
PureLife Health Equipment
Enema & Douching Supplies
Manufacturing, Wholesale, Retail - Made in the USA
3350 E. 7th St. #233
Long Beach, CA 90804
Yale New Haven Health News: Douching In Pregnancy Linked to Preterm Birth
CDC: Vaginal Douching & Risk of Ectopic Pregnancy Among Black Women
NIH Study: Among Women Who Want To Get Pregnant, Douching May Delay Conception
Vaginal Douching & Reproductive Health
Bacterial Vaginal Infections In Pregnancy
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