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Feminine hygiene products for vaginal douching may expose users to potentially harmful chemicals known as phthalates, a small study suggests.
Researchers did urine tests to detect phthalate exposure in 739 women who were also surveyed about their use of douches and other feminine care products. The more women douched, the higher their exposure to a form of diethyl phthalate (DEP), the study found.
“Phthalates are chemicals of concern for women’s health because they are suspected endocrine disruptors and can alter the action of important hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and thyroid hormones,” said lead study author Ami Zota, a researcher at the Milken School of Public Health at George Washington University.
Doctors widely discourage douching because it has few known benefits and can increase the risk of bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, pregnancy complications and potentially cervical cancer, Zota said by email.
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