Vaginal hygiene and douching: Perspectives of Hispanic men

Melissa D. McKee, María Baquero, Matthew Anderson, Alison Karasz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Vaginal douching is widely practised by women in the USA, particularly among minority ethnic groups, and is associated with increased risk of pelvic and vaginal infections. Douching practices are shaped by social and cultural norms regarding female hygiene, reproduction and sexuality. Little previous research has addressed the beliefs and practices of Latina women and none has included the perspective of men, though limited data suggests that women may douche to please male partners. The present study seeks to identify the socially and culturally shaped beliefs and attitudes that influence douching practices from the perspective of Latino men. We conducted in-depth qualitative interviews in English or Spanish with adult Latino men seeking primary care at a community health centre in New York City. Results indicate that these Latino men (mostly of Caribbean descent) are emphatic about the role of cleanliness in vaginal health, reporting that it substantially influences their choice of partner. Most are very supportive of douching, which they consider a necessary hygiene activity. Vaginal health is perceived as a state that must be attained and maintained through proactive hygiene measures that remove seminal residue, menstrual blood, sweat and bacteria that contaminate the vagina. The implications of these findings for interventions with Latina women are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-171
Number of pages13
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Feminine hygiene
  • Latino
  • USA
  • Vaginal douching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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