Beyond douching: Use of feminine hygiene products and STI risk among young women

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Introduction. Use of feminine hygiene products (feminine wipes, sprays, douches, and yeast creams) by adolescent women is common, yet understudied. Aim. We examine the association among these genital hygiene behaviors, condom use, and sexually transmitted infection (STI). Main Outcome Measures. Using the interview as our unit of analysis, we examined associations between genital hygiene behaviors (use of feminine wipes, feminine sprays, douches, or yeast creams), STI risk factors, and infection with Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Trichomonas vaginalis. Methods. We recruited 295 adolescent women from primary care clinics as part of a larger longitudinal study of STI among high-risk adolescents. Participants completed face-to-face interviews every 3 months, and provided vaginal swabs for STI testing. Data were analyzed with repeated measures logistic models to control for multiple observations contributed by each participant. Results. Participants reported douching in 25% of interviews, feminine sprays in 29%, feminine wipes in 27%, and yeast creams in 19% of interviews. We observed a co-occurrence of douching, spraying, and wiping. A past STI (6 months or more prior) was associated with increased likelihood of yeast cream use, and a recent STI (3 months prior) was associated with increased likelihood of feminine wipe use. Condom use was modestly associated with increased likelihood of douching. Conclusions. Young women frequently use feminine hygiene products, and it is important for clinicians to inquire about use as these products may mimic or mask STI. We found no associations between douching and STI, but instead modest associations between hygiene and STI prevention, suggesting motivation for self-care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1335-1340
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Adolescent
  • Condom
  • Female
  • Feminine hygiene product
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Vaginal douching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Reproductive Medicine

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