The Happy Trail

Mopping up downstairs

Douching. It’s a scary word, isn’t it? For a great many readers, the mere sight of this word causes them to shrink away and shrivel like withering flowers. “Douche not,” they cry, “for fear of infections and secretions of an unpleasant and potentially odorous nature!” Yet simultaneously, there are those readers who look upon douching and think to themselves, “What wondrous practice this is!  How clean and shiny-new I am for my sexual partner(s) after performing it.” But let us not get carried away in damnation or praise of this mysterious (and often messy) affair, before first understanding what others—especially the medical community—have written and spoken of it.

NOTE: All facts and advice given in this article have been researched with the intention of distributing truth, but have not been certified by a medical professional. Please consult a medical professional for questions or concerns on douching.

First off, what is douching? Translating to “shower” from French, douching is the practice of washing out an orifice (presumably the vagina, but the douching of the anus is not uncommon) for the sake of hygiene and cleanliness.

In its earliest forms, douching was intended as a form of birth control.  According to research by University of Toronto students Susan James and Charis Kepron, published in University of Toronto Medical Journal,  demonstrating the existence of a birth control recipe from 1300 BCE instructs women to “fumigate the vagina with emmer seeds” and then drink a mixture of oil, celery and sweet beer for four consecutive mornings to “loosen semen.” Similar practices of washing out the vagina with various concoctions continued throughout history, and industrialism allowed for further marketing of vaginal rinses to prevent pregnancy.

It was not until the rise of mass media in America—and in particular, the rise of “women’s magazines”—between 1920 and 1950 that douching began to be considered a hygienic practice. The access to the vast readership of women with expendable income inspired the primarily male writers of such magazines to manipulate women into fearing their allegedly odorous and frightening vaginas, so as to give them a reason to buy such products as Bidette Vaginal Wipes as, in the words of Bidette advertisements, “convenient assurance of all-day daintiness.”

Remarkably strange products were marketed toward women that were on the newfound search for vaginal hygiene, including Lysol due to its “germ-killing” but “gentle and non-caustic” properties. It was not until the 1970s and 1980s that the nature of birth control and better understanding of douching became more common knowledge in America.

1972 saw the Supreme Court legalize birth control for all citizens of this country, irrespective of marital status.  The next two decades provided a huge upswing in medical professionals’ criticism of douching. In medical assessments still relevant today, studies stated that vaginas are an excellent self-cleaning organ.

The cervix and the walls of the vagina create a small amount of mucous that carries menstrual blood, old cells, and other matter out of the vagina. Special bacteria in the vagina (called vaginal flora) also help to prevent infections caused by other microbes that don’t belong in the vagina.

The act of rinsing the inside of the vagina, medical professions discovered, disrupted natural cleaning processes the reproductive organs went through. This not only brought imbalance to the natural bacteria and pH of the vagina, but also often dried or irritated the walls of the vagina, exacerbating pre-existing infections and increasing risk of new ones.

So, it seems that medical professions agree: “Douche not the vagina, for fear of nasty infection and irritating dryness!” But what then of anal douching? Medical professions agree that the situation is similar here: the lining of the rectum has bacteria quite in the same vein as vaginal flora, protecting the delicate lining of this organ from infection and irritation.

Although fecal matter is excreted through this orifice, the rectum itself, where a majority of anal penetration occurs, is usually empty aside from the bacterial and mucosal lining of the rectum that acts as a protective barrier.  The act of douching, and especially with any product other than water, removes or disrupts this flora lining and removes some of your rectum’s best defenses against unwanted microbial visitors.

The best way to anally douche, professions suggest, is with a small amount of lukewarm water, sprayed into the rectum at a VERY LOW PRESSURE and VERY INFREQUENTLY! Remember, boys and girls and everyone in between or beyond, the rectum is a delicate thing that must be treated with care.

Constantly removing its lining is both physically irritating and potentially dangerous. So love your bodies, your vaginas and booties, and consult a medical professional before cleaning too harshly!