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J Epidemiol. 2010;20(1):70-6. Epub 2009 Dec 12.

Vaginal douching in Cambodian women: its prevalence and association with vaginal candidiasis.

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National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD, Ministry of Health, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.



We determined the prevalence of vaginal douching (cleansing of the vagina with liquid) in a sample of Cambodian women, and examined the associations of douching with genitourinary symptoms and infections, after controlling for potential confounding factors, including genitourinary symptoms and sociodemographic factors.


A total of 451 adolescent and adult females aged 15 to 49 years who attended 17 maternal and child health (MCH) clinics in 7 provinces of Cambodia in 2001 were consecutively enrolled as a part of the Sexually Transmitted Infection Sentinel Survey. Sociodemographic factors, genitourinary symptoms, and frequency of douching were assessed by face-to-face interviews using a structured questionnaire. Vaginal infections were examined by using standard diagnostic procedures specific to each pathogen.


The proportion of participants who douched at least once a week was 76.7% (n = 346). Douching was significantly more prevalent in urban than in rural women (85.7%, n = 198 vs 67.3%, n = 148; P < 0.001). Frequency of douching was significantly associated with genitourinary symptoms, which were most prevalent in participants who douched from several times a week to once a day; genitourinary symptoms were less prevalent in those who douched more than once a day. Douching was significantly associated with vaginal candidiasis, but not with trichomoniasis or bacterial vaginosis, and this association persisted even after controlling for sociodemographic factors and genitourinary symptoms.


Vaginal douching was very common among Cambodian women visiting MCH clinics. Further investigations are warranted to elucidate the reasons for douching. In addition, women should be informed that douching may endanger their reproductive health.

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