Vaginal douching and adverse health effects: a meta-analysis

Am J Public Health. 1997 Jul;87(7):1207-11. doi: 10.2105/ajph.87.7.1207.


Objectives: The meta-analysis described here reviewed the current literature on adverse health effects of vaginal douching.

Methods: Papers published in English from 1965 through 1995 were potentially eligible.

Results: One third of White women and two thirds of Black women of reproductive age reported douching regularly. Analyses indicated that vaginal douching increases the overall risk of pelvic inflammatory disease by 73% and the risk of ectopic pregnancy by 76%. Frequent douching was shown to be highly associated with pelvic inflammatory disease and modestly associated with cervical cancer.

Conclusions: Current literature suggests that frequent douching increases the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and, possibly, cervical cancer.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease / epidemiology*
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Therapeutic Irrigation / adverse effects*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / etiology
  • Vagina*