After engaging in sexual intercourse, some women rely on douching as a birth control method. However, this is not always the most reliable form of protection for a couple of reasons. If you’ve been using douching and recently began to notice pregnancy symptoms, it’s normal to feel a little panicked. This may not be something you thought would happen. And the surprise of it can make the possibility of pregnancy seem overwhelming. Before moving forward with any next steps, it’s important to find out more about a possible pregnancy and the role that douching after sex plays in prevention, if any.
If you’ve been utilizing a pregnancy prevention method, but suspect you may now be pregnant, Avenue Women’s Center is here to help. Find out if you’re pregnant by taking one of our free medical-grade pregnancy tests. Our tests are accurate just ten days after possible conception. We’ll partner with you to provide relevant information and support, ensuring you have all of your questions answered.
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Why Is Douching Not Recommended as a Form of Birth Control?
Douching generally involves rinsing out the vagina with water or other liquid solutions after sex. Since the purpose is typically to clean, it cannot prevent unexpected pregnancies. Sperm can move quite fast. This means it’s likely to have already entered your uterus before you’ve had a chance to wash it away. Another problem with douching is that it can potentially push the sperm even further inside of you.
No matter which form of birth control you use, with the exception of abstinence, there is no 100% guarantee that you’ll be guarded against a possible pregnancy. However, the ineffectiveness of douching when it comes to preventing pregnancies is not the only reason why healthcare providers may advise you against it.
Are There Potential Health Problems Associated With Douching?
Medical professionals have outlined a few concerns when it comes to douching. One of the problems is that it can disrupt the balance of good and harmful bacteria in your vagina. You generally need both to be protected against possible infections and irritation. If you douche after intercourse, an overgrowth of harmful bacteria can begin to spread. This can put you at risk for a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis.
Serious health problems can occur if an infection already exists inside your vagina. Douching can push the bacteria up into your uterus, fallopian tubes, or your ovaries. This can lead to conditions like pelvic inflammatory disease, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), or an ectopic pregnancy.
What Are My Options If I’m Pregnant After Douching?
After a woman learns about an unexpected pregnancy, it’s not uncommon to experience overwhelming thoughts and feelings. Your health matters in this decision. And though it may seem like a lot, try to take each step one at a time. Thinking things through all at once can overwhelm you. Instead, take one thing at a time and give it your individual attention.
If you need help organizing your thoughts and determining your next steps, professional resources such as a healthcare provider, a counselor, or a pregnancy consultant can walk you through them.
Healthy Next Steps
Before you make a decision, the side effects that can be caused by douching means it may be a good idea to assess your health first. Even if you’re considering abortion, certain conditions may cause the pregnancy to end naturally, or may need to be ruled out before you undergo any kind of procedure.
The removal of bacteria from your vagina caused by douching removes a form of protection against infections. You may need to get tested for an STD, as those can worsen if left untreated, or be spread further throughout your body if you have an abortion with an untreated STD.
Since a woman who douches after sex may also be at risk of having her pregnancy implant outside of her uterus, it’s recommended that you schedule an ultrasound exam. This can rule out other complications such as miscarriage, and alert you if there’s a chance that you may need to seek medical treatment.
When faced with an unexpected pregnancy, there’s often a lot to consider before you make your choice. One of your first thoughts after learning you were pregnant might have been concerned with what you should do next, and where you can go for help. These worries are not uncommon, and if you’re feeling unsure, there are plenty of resources available to assist you with your next steps.
Do you have questions or concerns about a potential unexpected pregnancy? Avenue Women’s Center has been providing information and support throughout six locations in DuPage County since 1981. We’re here to meet with you for a private consultation where we can answer your questions about birth control failure rates, your three pregnancy options, and available resources.
Schedule an appointment today to receive free assistance and services!
- Southern Nevada Health District. Can I prevent pregnancy by douching after sex? Retrieved from: https://www.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org/faq-items/can-i-prevent-pregnancy-by-douching-after-sex/
- womenshealth.gov. Douching. Retrieved from: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/douching
Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.The information provided here is general in nature. It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention. Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.