Vaginal douching and the risk of ectopic pregnancy among black women

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1997 May;176(5):991-7. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9378(97)70391-0.


Objective: Our goal was to determine whether vaginal douching was associated with ectopic pregnancy among black women and whether specific douching behaviors were associated with differences in risk.

Study design: We analyzed data from a case-control study of ectopic pregnancy conducted between October 1988 and August 1990 at a major public hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Case subjects were 197 black women with surgically confirmed ectopic pregnancies; the control group included 882 black women who were delivered of live or stillborn infants and 237 black women who were seeking to terminate a pregnancy.

Results: The adjusted odds ratio for ectopic pregnancy associated with ever having douched was 3.8 (95% confidence interval 1.6 to 8.9). The risk increased with increasing number of years of douching at least once per month. No douching behavior was found to be without risk; even women who douched for routine cleanliness were at increased risk of ectopic pregnancy.

Conclusions: Vaginal douching is a modifiable behavior that may greatly increase a woman's risk of ectopic pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Black or African American*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Therapeutic Irrigation / adverse effects*
  • Vagina*