Vaginal Douche Practices Among Black Women at Risk: Exploring Douching Prevalence, Reasons for Douching, and Sexually Transmitted Disease Infection

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Objective:The objective of this study was to identify douching patterns and their relation to sexually transmitted disease (STD) among black women seeking an STD evaluation.Study Design:This study was a cross-sectional survey with biologic testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea infection.Results:Of 891 participants, 46.1% were current douchers. Commonly identified reasons for douching were to cleanse after menses (65.4%) and to feel fresh (42.2%). Frequent douching was associated with douching after sex (P <0.001), to alleviate an itch (P <0.001), and to feel fresh (P <0.001). Women who douched during menses (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 4.78; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.13–20.13) and to alleviate an itch (AOR = 3.66; 95% CI = 1.00–13.41) were more likely to have a current chlamydial infection.Conclusions:Douching was common among this high-risk population of black women. Prospective studies are needed to determine the consequences of douching and any mediating effects of women’s motivation for the behavior on reproductive health.

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