Behind “that fresh, clean feeling” touted in ads for feminine hygiene products is a nasty lie that the vagina is dirty and malodorous. It’s not. Gynecologists agree that the vagina is self-cleansing and that with regular bathing, feminine hygiene products, particularly douches, are completely unnecessary.

Still, more than one-quarter of U.S. women aged 15 to 44 douche regularly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (21 percent of white women, 33 percent of Hispanics, and 55 percent of African Americans). Some use homemade water-vinegar douches; most spring for commercial products, purchasing $120 million worth each year.

Several studies have linked douching with increased risk of ectopic pregnancy and pelvic inflammatory disease, a serious, often fertility-impairing infection of the fallopian tubes that strikes up to 1 million American women a year. It’s not entirely clear why douching raises these risks. The leading theory is that it pushes harmless bacteria into the uterus, where they become harmful.

While the case against douching is not epidemiologically airtight, why buy a product that’s at best worthless, and at worst hazardous? The message is clear: Don’t douche. — M.C.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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