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Behind “that fresh, clean feeling” touted in ads for feminine hygiene products is a nasty lie that the vagina is dirty and malodorous. It’s not. Gynecologists agree that the vagina is self-cleansing and that with regular bathing, feminine hygiene products, particularly douches, are completely unnecessary.

Still, more than one-quarter of U.S. women aged 15 to 44 douche regularly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (21 percent of white women, 33 percent of Hispanics, and 55 percent of African Americans). Some use homemade water-vinegar douches; most spring for commercial products, purchasing $120 million worth each year.

Several studies have linked douching with increased risk of ectopic pregnancy and pelvic inflammatory disease, a serious, often fertility-impairing infection of the fallopian tubes that strikes up to 1 million American women a year. It’s not entirely clear why douching raises these risks. The leading theory is that it pushes harmless bacteria into the uterus, where they become harmful.

While the case against douching is not epidemiologically airtight, why buy a product that’s at best worthless, and at worst hazardous? The message is clear: Don’t douche. — M.C.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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