Top 10 Myths About Safe Sex And Sexual Health

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Find answers to your sexual health questions here.

MYTH: Douching is a healthy way to clean the vagina

The vagina is self-cleansing, and douching actually causes more harm than good, according to The National Women’s Health Information Center. The natural bacteria found in the vagina help keep it clean and healthy, and douching can disturb that balance and spread vaginal infections into the fallopian tubes, uterus and ovaries. Additionally, douching does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy. In fact, douching makes it easier for a woman to get pregnant because it pushes semen farther up into the vagina and cervix.

Regular washing with warm water and mild, unscented soaps will help keep the outside of the vagina clean. Try to avoid scented tampons, pads, powders, and sprays, which can increase the chance of vaginal infections.

Trusted resources

Although many of the websites that Dr. Yen's team fact-checked did have incorrect, missing, or outdated information, she does point out a few winners, aimed at adolescents, that portrayed accurate, easy-to-understand information. For more information about sexual health myths and facts—for yourself or for a curious teenager in your life—visit the following resources.

    * Go Ask Alice, a question-and-answer service maintained by Columbia University
    * The Center for Young Women’s Health, an educational effort of Children’s Hospital Boston
    * TeensHealth, a part of KidsHealth.org
    * Teenwire, an educational site for teens maintained by Planned Parenthood.

Dr. Yen also recommends the book Our Bodies, Ourselves to her patients, and suggests young people see a physician who specializes in adolescent medicine.

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