For Teen Vogue, by Brittney McNamara.
Vaginas are truly perfect. They have self-cleaning mechanisms, hair to protect you, and can make you feel really good. Each vagina comes with a unique look and smell, but problems arise when we try to change some of the natural and awesome things about them.
Douching, a method of cleaning the vagina using water, antiseptics, and fragrance, is something a lot of women do because they think it makes them cleaner. Actually, though, throwing off the vagina's natural bacteria levels is super harmful. According to a new study reported on by the American Council on Science and Health, vaginal douching is linked to increased risk of HPV.
Researchers at the University of Texas found that using douches ups your risk of HPV, the virus that can lead to cervical cancer. The scientists looked at 1,271 women who participated in a survey 12 years ago that included questions about whether they had douched in the past six months. They found women who douched are 26% more likely to get an HPV strain and 40% more likely to get the kind that causes cancer.
The Council on Science and Health notes the study wasn't entirely conclusive, but it's honestly not worth the risk. Your vagina cleans itself and its supposed to smell like that! If your vagina smells different in a bad way, like very fishy or you're having off-color discharge, that could be a sign that something is wrong. Your vagina lets you know usually when it's feeling good or if there's something wrong. Douching won't fix that and it could even make you miss important signs about your health. Also, there's no medical purpose for douching. If it doesn't help, and it definitely harms you, what's the point?
More from Teen Vogue: