Women who douche risk vaginal infections and other clinical conditions, including cervical cancer and infertility, a gynaecologist has warned.

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Dr. Dipo Ayandele of Zachary Memorial Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, told NAN that douching could be harmful in the long run.

“The vagina is self-cleansing. Women who douche think it makes them fresher, helps get rid of unpleasant odours and avoid getting sexually transmitted diseases,” he said, adding that douching was not effective for any of the purposes because douches contain antiseptics and fragrances that could irritate the vagina.

“It can upset the natural balance of bacteria and fungi in your vagina and lead to thrush or bacterial vaginosis.

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“Vaginal douching can also cause soreness and abnormal vaginal discharge,” he said.

Ayandele said that other health conditions that could result from douching include pregnancy complications, pelvic inflammatory diseases and cervical cancer.

“Douching has been linked to such health problems like pregnancy complications, pelvic inflammatory diseases and cervical cancer.

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“Research has shown that women who douche more than once a week have more difficulty getting pregnant than those who do not douche.

“Douching also increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy as well as cervical cancer,” he said.

Ayandele recommends gentle washing around the genital area with a mild soap, saying it was more effective in keeping the virginal clean and to prevent infections.

He advised that women should wear cotton underwear instead of those made of silk or nylon, adding that silk or nylon underwear restrict air flow in the genital area.

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“Having some vaginal odour is normal. However, if you notice a very strong odour, it could be a sign of infection,” he said.

Acidity of the vagina would naturally control bacteria, adding that “simply washing the vagina with warm water and mild soap is enough to keep clean and dry”.

He cautioned women against wearing extremely tight-fitting pants or shorts, saying they increase sweating in the genital area, and could lead to irritation and infections.

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