A recent study claims that hygiene products used for vaginal douching may expose women to dangerous chemicals which are known as phthalates.
Scientists conducted urine tests in order to detect the exposure to phthalate in 739 women who were surveyed about the usage of douches and other care products as well. Researchers found that the more the women douched, the greater the exposure to phthalate they faced.
Ami Zota, the lead author of the study and researcher from the Milken School of Public Health from the George Washington University said that phthalates are very concerning for the health of women as they are suspected to be disruptors of endocrine and can modify the actions of crucial hormones like thyroid hormones, testosterone and estrogen.
Doctors discourage douching as it doesn’t have many known benefits but can actually enhance the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, bacterial vaginosis, pregnancy complications and even cervical cancer. Zota said that douching is not required medically and a vagina that is healthy already has a very effective self-cleaning mechanism.
However, many women still douche, even occasionally. This is why Zota aims to analyze the link between douching and two chemicals generally found in care products. The two industrial chemicals are called di-n-butyl phthalate and DEP.
The women in the study were 20 to 49 years old. Over half of the women analyzed were obese or overweight. Many of them said that they hadn’t douched in the last six months. However, about a third of the black women in the study said they douched once a month or more. The same thing was said by 11 percent of Mexican American and white women as well.
Around 20 percent of black women said they douched twice or more times a month compared to only 7 percent of the white women and 3 percent of Mexican American women. Women who said they douched once or more a month had 52 percent greater concentrations of DEP in the urine. Women who douched two or more times a month had a DEP concentration in their urine of 152 percent greater than that of non-users.
Charlene Dezzuti, a scientist from the Magee-Women’s Research Institute from the University of Pittsburgh said that douching isn’t usually necessary and can even disrupt the regular levels of bacteria in the vagina. She added that there isn’t enough research on the matter to point out exactly how dangerous phthalates are or explain what they do inside the body.
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