Vaginal douching: association with lower genital tract infections in African pregnant women

Sex Transm Dis. 1999 Apr;26(4):191-6. doi: 10.1097/00007435-199904000-00001.


Background and objectives: Douching, a common practice, could further increase the risk of genital infections.

Goal of this study: To describe douching practices in pregnant women and to evaluate associations with lower genital tract infections.

Study design: Cross-sectional study in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

Results: Among 552 women included, douching before consultation was reported by 97% and was common practice for 98%. Intravaginal drying agents were used by 10%. Genital warts were less frequent for women who usually douched (p = 0.015). U. urealyticum infection was associated with douching and with the use of intravaginal agents. Diagnosis of genital infections was independent of douching with water or soap, but chlamydial infection was associated with douching with antiseptics, used by 14% of the women (p = 0.036). HIV infection was two times more frequent in women using antiseptics (p = 0.17).

Conclusion: The study confirms the widespread practice of douching in African pregnant women. The harmful effects of antiseptics need to be substantiated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Cote d'Ivoire
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Genital Diseases, Female / diagnosis
  • Genital Diseases, Female / etiology*
  • Genital Diseases, Female / microbiology
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections / etiology
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / etiology*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / microbiology
  • Therapeutic Irrigation / adverse effects*
  • Therapeutic Irrigation / methods
  • Vagina*