Douching is the process of washing the inside of the vagina with water or a liquid solution. They are performed using a bottle or bag with a nozzle that injects liquid into the vagina. Most come in prepackaged solutions of water, vinegar, baking soda, or iodine.
However, some people buy empty bags and fill them with their own solutions. Peroxide is a type of bleach that uses a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water. Some people find that douching with hydrogen peroxide can help treat bacterial vaginosis.
Although hydrogen peroxide has many benefits, the kind you find at your drugstore is usually at a 3 percent concentration. This type of hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic solution commonly used to disinfect wounds. In a process called oxidation, hydrogen peroxide breaks down the bacterial cell wall.
Could this oxidation process help break down excess vaginal yeast and bacteria? Read on to find out.
What are the potential benefits of a peroxide shower?
The first line of defense against BV is antibiotic treatment. If your doctor diagnoses you with BV, he may prescribe oral antibiotics or antibiotic creams. Antibiotics have a short-term effect.
Most people’s symptoms go away within three weeks. However, it is common to return within 3-12 months. In addition, the antibiotics used to treat BV have several side effects, including:
Hydrogen peroxide showers help avoid the use of antibiotics and their side effects.
Does it really cure BV?
There aren’t many studies on the use of hydrogen peroxide sprays to treat BV.
A 2012 literature review by Trusted Source reviewed existing research on the use of antiseptics such as hydrogen peroxide to treat BV. The authors found small studies that showed antiseptic solutions were as effective as antibiotics. But they note that much of the existing research on antiseptic sprays is flawed.
Based on these issues and existing studies, there is insufficient evidence to recommend antiseptic washing for BV. But that could change with more high-quality research.
Do peroxide showers have any side effects?
Health care providers often advise against douching because the risks outweigh the benefits.
Douching, especially antiseptic douching, can mess up the vaginal microflora. Antiseptics are like broad-spectrum antibiotics because they kill both good and bad bacteria.
The good bacteria in your vagina help protect you from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and yeast infections.
Douching flushes out the natural acidity that protects your vagina from infection. Reusable douches can introduce mold and other fungi into the vagina.
If you already have BV, any type of douching can spread the infection. You can accidentally spill bacteria into your uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. It causes pelvic inflammatory disease, which causes chronic pain and infertility.
In addition, peroxide can irritate the vagina and genitals. In one study of hydrogen peroxide douches, more than 30 percent of participants reported vaginal irritation.
What else can I do at BV?
It is important to treat BV as soon as possible. If left untreated, it increases the risk of STIs such as HIV and genital herpes. It also increases the risk of pregnancy complications such as premature birth and low birth weight.
Treatment for BV involves antibiotic therapy. You will need a prescription from your doctor. Genital intercourse usually does not require treatment, but vaginal intercourse should be tested.
Medications commonly prescribed to treat BV include:
Metronidazole (Flagyl, Metrogel-Vaginal). It is an oral or topical antibiotic. Topical metronidazole is a gel that is inserted into the vagina. Side effects include stomach upset.
Clindamycin (Cleocin, Clindesse and others). This medication can also be taken orally, but is often prescribed as a topical cream for BV. Creams can weaken latex condoms, so be sure to use birth control if you’re using condoms.
Tinidazole (Tindamax). This is another oral antibiotic. It can also cause indigestion.
While it is important to treat BV to avoid complications, washing is not the best option.
Spraying with hydrogen peroxide can irritate the vagina, and douching with BV can spread the infection further into the urinary tract. If you think you have BV, make an appointment to start antibiotics.