Women have been cautioned to abstain from frequent douching and the practice of using soap to wash their vagina with the aim of making it clean.
Contrary to what many people think, douching or the use of soap to wash vagina does not make it clean rather it destroys the normal flora of the vagina and thereby doing more harm than good.
The above was the submission of Prof. Adewale Sule-Odu, a distinguished Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Obafemi Awolowo College of Health Services, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye during the presentation of his findings on a study conducted on pregnant women during their ante-natal period and early labour.
Presenting the findings, Prof. Sule-Odu, who was the Principal Investigator in the research, added that every woman has normal vagina discharge, which is expected to be clear, scanty, odourless and without any itching sensation. He, therefore, clarified that using soap and all forms of solutions to clean the vagina was not necessary even after having sexual intercourse, as the vagina is a self-cleansing organ.
The Consultant Gynaecologist warned that the use of the cotton wool or tissue paper to clean up after sex could predispose women to bacterial vaginosis, adding that in some cases, it came with abnormal vaginal discharge, itching or odour. For pregnant women, he declared that “it can portend some adversity for the baby.”
Prof. Sule-Odu emphasized that women generally, and pregnant women in particular must desist from other similarly unhealthy habits, such as dipping their fingers into the vagina, as bacterial infection could be transmitted from the fingers into the vagina, thereby depleting the level of lactobacillus in the vagina microenviroment.
Explaining, he said that the vagina was not a sterile organ, as it has its own normal flora, adding that the presence of these bacteria did not indicate infection, as they only serve to protect the organ from harmful pathogens.
He, however, declared that bacteria vaginosois occurs when the harmful bacteria grow in numbers, even though, a vagina should contain bacteria called lactobacilli that produce lactic acid to make the vagina slightly acidic and prevents other bacteria from growing there. “An overwhelming vaginal infection in pregnancy could lead to premature and low birthweight babies”, Prof. Sule-Odu said.
Speaking earlier at the event, the Vice-Chancellor, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Prof. Ganiyu Olatunji Olatunde who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Prof. (Mrs.) Ebun Oduwole disclosed that the study and findings presented by Prof. Adewale Sule-Odu was one of the 19 research proposals approved out of the 22 submitted to the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TetFund). She stated that the study was themed “Vaginal Microflora in Pregnant Women Attending Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital and the Implication on Foetal Outcomes”. She added that with the conclusion of this study, the University was able to showcase its research capacity, transparency and accountability when it comes to grants adding that it was a giant stride for the University.
Present at the event were the Chief Medical Director, OOUTH, Sagamu, Dr. Oladipupo Adefuye, Dean, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, Prof (Mrs) Bolanle Fetuga, one of the researchers, Dr. Bayo Akadiri and the Brand Manager of Seagreen Pharmaceuticals Limited, Pharmacist Aje Akinleye.