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Is Douching While Pregnant Harmful?

By Laurel Heidtman ; Updated August 14, 2017

Douching is not only unnecessary, but it may be harmful, in spite of what you see in ads for so-called feminine hygiene products. This can be especially true during pregnancy. Your vagina is home to many species of bacteria, and in a healthy vagina, they exist in a delicate balance. Douching upsets that balance, resulting in an overgrowth of some bacteria. This may lead to bacterial vaginosis, a condition that increases your risk of pregnancy complications.

Vaginosis and Pregnancy

Some women experience no symptoms with bacterial vaginosis, but others have a thin, grayish-white vaginal discharge and a fishy odor. Ironically, discharge and odor can make a woman think she needs to clean herself by douching, when douching itself might have caused the problem. In that case, it is highly unlikely that douching will fix it. Alert your doctor about symptoms so she can treat you promptly and properly. Left untreated, bacterial vaginosis can lead to premature rupture of membranes, preterm labor, preterm birth and low birth weight.

Related Infections

The risk of endometritis, an infection of the uterus, is heightened by bacterial vaginosis. It can occur during or after labor, increasing the risk of complications for both mother and child. Intraamniotic infection -- an infection of the amniotic fluid, the placenta or the membranes surrounding the embryo -- can be caused by vaginosis and result in premature rupture of the membranes during a preterm birth. Because douching raises the risk of vaginosis, and that can lead to other infections, it should be avoided during pregnancy. Consult your doctor for guidance.

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