Women who douche double their risk of getting ovarian cancer according to a large national study conducted in the U.S. by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
The study followed 50,884 women across the U.S. and Puerto Rico who had sisters with breast cancer. They set out to see if using talc powder or douching increased the participants’ risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Scientists discovered that while talc powder didn’t increase the risk at all, douching doubled the person’s risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Why Vaginal Douching May Cause Ovarian Cancer
Although this study proves that there’s a risk, more research is needed to figure out why vaginal douching increases the risk.
Scientists have a few theories.
One theory is that douches contain phthalates. Phthalates are known to be endocrine disruptors. An endocrine disruptor is a chemical that interferes with the body’s hormones. Phthalates could affect your ovaries and fallopian tubes, causing a higher risk of cancer over time. Women who douche have been found to have a higher level of phthalates in their blood.
Another theory is that douching pushes the body’s toxins into the reproductive tract, leading to the development of cancer.
Of course, there’s always a chance that the findings in this study are merely coincidental. The women who were followed already had a greater chance of getting cancer because they had a sister with cancer.
Most doctors who are part of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have advised women for years not to douche, but this new study is yet another reason women should avoid douching.
Douching has also been linked to bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and problems during pregnancy including preterm birth and ectopic pregnancies.
For more detailed information on why you shouldn’t douche, read our helpful knowledge center article: Douching: Don’t Do It.