Douching behavior in high-risk adolescents: What do they use, when and why do they douche?

Academic Article


  • Objectives: To describe feminine hygiene practices and douching behavior in adolescent women. Design: A cross-sectional anonymous survey. Subjects: Adolescents (majority rural) admitted to a correctional institution for girls. Main Outcome Measures: Description of feminine hygiene practices, prevalence of vaginal douching, types of substances used, reported reasons for, and timing of douching. Results: In a period of 16 weeks, 104 girls were surveyed within a week of admission. The mean age was 15.4 (SD 1.5; range 12-18) yr, and age at sexual debut 13.1 (SD 1.4) yr. Use of feminine hygiene products was reported by: 9% for feminine suppository, 33% towelettes, 40% spray, 67% feminine wash; only 18% reported no use of those feminine hygiene products listed. A history of ever having douched was reported by 79%; the mean first douching age was 14.0 (SD 1.3; range 11-16). Douching product users were significantly more likely to know someone who douches regularly (P < .0001) and have watched douche commercials (P = .0001) than those who did not douche. A majority used store-bought products, vinegar in water and scented solution being the most popular; baking soda, Betadine, Pine-sol, and Lysol were other products used. Commonly cited reasons for douching included to feel good and fresh (60%), and to rid of odor and of blood (47% each). Other reasons cited were to please partner (12%) and to avoid going to a doctor (6%). Timing of douching included: after period (69%), after sex (52%), before sex (16%), before going to a doctor (17%). Among those who douched, 51% douched once a month, and an additional 32% more often than that. Conclusion: This study provides troublesome findings regarding the feminine hygiene practices of mostly rural southern teenagers who have been incarcerated.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Oh MK; Merchant JS; Brown P
  • Start Page

  • 83
  • End Page

  • 88
  • Volume

  • 15
  • Issue

  • 2