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J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2002 Apr;15(2):83-8.

Douching behavior in high-risk adolescents. What do they use, when and why do they douche?

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Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35233-1711, USA.



To describe feminine hygiene practices and douching behavior in adolescent women.


A cross-sectional anonymous survey.


Adolescents (majority rural) admitted to a correctional institution for girls.


Description of feminine hygiene practices, prevalence of vaginal douching, types of substances used, reported reasons for, and timing of douching.


In a period of 16 weeks, 104 girls were surveyed within a week of admission. The mean age was 15.4 (SD 1.5; range 12-18) yr, and age at sexual debut 13.1 (SD 1.4) yr. Use of feminine hygiene products was reported by: 9% for feminine suppository, 33% towelettes, 40% spray, 67% feminine wash; only 18% reported no use of those feminine hygiene products listed. A history of ever having douched was reported by 79%; the mean first douching age was 14.0 (SD 1.3; range 11-16). Douching product users were significantly more likely to know someone who douches regularly (P <.0001) and have watched douche commercials (P =.0001) than those who did not douche. A majority used store-bought products, vinegar in water and scented solution being the most popular; baking soda, Betadine, Pine-sol, and Lysol were other products used. Commonly cited reasons for douching included to feel good and fresh (60%), and to rid of odor and of blood (47% each). Other reasons cited were to please partner (12%) and to avoid going to a doctor (6%). Timing of douching included: after period (69%), after sex (52%), before sex (16%), before going to a doctor (17%). Among those who douched, 51% douched once a month, and an additional 32% more often than that.


This study provides troublesome findings regarding the feminine hygiene practices of mostly rural southern teenagers who have been incarcerated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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