In a new study, researchers found women who use a vaginal douche could be at a higher risk of exposure to potentially dangerous chemicals.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Michigan.
The team looked at the correlation between the use of female hygiene products and the levels of volatile organic compounds in women’s blood.
They used data from a representative sample of 2,432 women aged 20-49 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2004.
Participants were asked about their use of feminine products including tampons, sanitary napkins (pads), vaginal douches, sprays, powders and wipes/towelettes.
They found a strong link between vaginal douching and higher blood concentrations of 1,4-dichlorobenzene, a volatile organic compound.
Because black women in the study reported significantly more use of vaginal douching, the researchers believe they could be at higher risk of exposure to the chemicals and their negative effects.
According to the team, women who used a vaginal douche two or more times per month had concentrations 81% higher than those that never used.
Women who used douches occasionally (once a month) had 18% higher concentrations of the chemical.
VOCs are chemicals that are used in a wide range of products including deodorants, nail polish, and paints.
Some of these chemicals have been associated with respiratory symptoms, cancers, and neurological disorders, as well as adverse effects on reproductive systems.
While additional studies are needed, women would be better off heeding the recommendation from the American Society for Obstetricians and Gynecologists not to use certain products.
The team says while they are more concerned about disrupting the balance of bacteria in the genital area or interrupt the pH level, they have not focused on the toxicity of those endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which is really important and need to be highlighted
They point out that 20-40 percent of women use this kind of product in the U.S. and would recommend women not to douche.
The lead author of the study is Ning Ding, a doctoral candidate in epidemiology at U-M’s School of Public Health.
The study is published in the Journal of Women’s Health.
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