Experts say douching could double your chances of ovarian cancer.

Over 1,500 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Australia every year.

1000 of those women will die of the disease. That is one woman every eight hours.

Other than family history, researchers have struggled to identify any other potential risk factors. Until now.

This month, a study published in Epidemiology, linked regular douching to an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Douching involves washing or cleaning out the vagina. Image via iStock.

Douching involves washing or cleaning out the vagina with water, vinegar, baking soda or iodine. Douching kits are sold in some shops, and include a nozzle which assists in inserting the mixture into the vagina.

Doctors and public health officials have been warning against the cleaning technique for decades, given that the practice can lead to a number of health problems, from recurring yeast infections, to pelvic inflammatory disease. Douching is widely understood to disrupt the healthy bacteria in the vagina.

According to a study out of the US found that 20 per cent of women continue to douche despite health warnings.


To test the link between douching and ovarian cancer, researchers collected data on 50,000 women from the US and Puerto Rico. They asked the women if they had douched in the past year. Upon the conclusion of the study, 154 women had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It was discovered that those who had douched before the study began were twice as likely to develop the disease.

Stomach aches are a key symptom of ovarian cancer. Image via iStock. 

Women continue to douche because of a prevailing myth that it is necessary for good hygiene. This could not be further from the truth. Douching compromises the health of the vagina by exposing it to damaging chemicals such as phthalates.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer include bloating, stomach aches, frequent urination and getting full quickly. If you experience any of these symptoms over a four week period, visit your doctor.

The sooner ovarian cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of survival.