The controversy over douche safety was renewed last month, when members of the Food & Drug Administration's OBGYN Devices Panel and the Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee met to discuss a possible association between vaginal douching and conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy, and cervical cancer.
Many experts in women's health care spoke to the committees about the behavioral, epidemiological, and microbial aspects of douching, as well as regulatory issues associated with these products.
One major problem noted was the lack of consistency in product labeling. Ingredient lists, indications, directions, and warnings seem to vary greatly from product to product. Senior v.p. and director of science and technology for the Nonprescription Drug Manufacturers Association (NDMA) William Soller, Ph.D., said that both the nonprescription drug and cosmetic industries are trying to address these inconsistencies with more consumer-friendly labeling. Soller also mentioned the possibility that the proposed OTC product labeling could somehow be applied to cosmetics to clarify information.
Most douches on the market are regulated as cosmetics. Some experts participating in the discussion felt that this classification is often confusing to consumers and physicians alike, who mistakenly believe the products offer medical benefits instead of simple cosmetic cleansing. …