Douching is the cleaning out or rinsing of the vagina by squirting water or other solutions into the vagina. Some women douche to rinse away blood after a menstrual period, clean the vagina after sex to avoid sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and wash away semen to prevent pregnancy, and reduce odors.
Many medical authorities recommend against douching, regardless of being pregnant or not. The vagina has its own mechanisms for keeping itself clean and balancing pH and bacteria levels, and introducing a liquid into this environment may actually increase the risk of infections. Under normal circumstances, a daily shower or bath should be sufficient to keep the vagina clean.
Some studies have shown a potential link between douching in pregnant women and low-birthweight babies, though this research is small and may be inconclusive. Other studies show a link between douching and ectopic pregnancy, in which the fertilized egg attaches inside of the fallopian tube instead of the uterus. Douching may also lead to serious problems during pregnancy, such as infection in the baby, problems with labor, and early delivery.
It is important to see your health care provider right away when you have any vaginal pain, itching, burning, or a foul odor; pain when urinating; a vaginal discharge that is not normal, such as thick and white (like cottage cheese) or yellowish-green. You may have a yeast infection, urinary tract infection, or bacterial infection, all of which can be treated during pregnancy.