A new study has found that douching can be a leading cause of the most prevalent sexually transmitted infections in women.
Researchers at the University of Washington School of Public Health analyzed data from more than 13,000 women who have had vaginal infections in the past year and analyzed them in three categories: the most commonly experienced and the least common.
The study found that women who douched more frequently were more likely to be infected with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomoniasis and herpes.
“Women who douche frequently and are more likely than other women to report douching during sexual activity may have higher rates of STIs,” the study authors wrote.
They added that douches could also increase the risk of becoming infected with HPV, a sexually-transmitted disease that can lead to cervical cancer.
The study was published in the March issue of the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology.
Previous studies have linked douching to STIs, such as the UTI epidemic, but they have tended to focus on specific situations, such, men who douches and women who use a feminine hygiene product, such a hand sanitizer.
This study, however, examined vaginal infections among women who had experienced vaginal infections and used vaginal-disinfection products.
“Our results suggest that douche-associated vaginal infections may be more prevalent among women using feminine hygiene products, including hand saniters, compared to women who did not use feminine hygiene,” the authors wrote in their paper.
The researchers concluded that women using tampons, pads and other feminine hygiene pads should use the product that contains a higher level of antibacterial soap and sanitizers, such that they use them consistently.
This article has been updated to include additional information from the study.