Objectives: Although common worldwide, intravaginal cleansing is associated with poor health outcomes. We sought to describe intravaginal cleansing among women attending a sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinic in Jamaica.
Methods: We examined intravaginal cleansing (“washing up inside the vagina”, douching, and products or materials used) among 293 participants in a randomized trial of counselling messages at an STI clinic in Kingston. We focussed on information on intravaginal cleansing performed in the 30 days and three days preceding their baseline study visit. We describe reported cleansing behaviours and used logistic regression to identify correlates of intravaginal cleansing.
Results: Fifty-eight per cent of participants reported intravaginal cleansing in the previous 30 days, and 46% did so in the three days before baseline. Among those who cleansed in the previous 30 days, 88% reported doing so for hygiene unrelated to sex, and three-fourths reported generally doing so more than once per day. Soap (usually with water) and water alone were the most common products used for washing; commercial douches or detergents were reported infrequently. Intravaginal cleansing in the three days before the baseline visit was positively associated with having more than one sex partner in the previous three months (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.9; 95% CI, 1.1, 3.2), and negatively associated with experiencing itching in the genital area at baseline (AOR, 0.6; 95% CI, 0.4, 1.0).
Conclusions: A large proportion of women attending STI clinics in Jamaica engage in frequent intravaginal cleansing, indicating a need for clinicians to discuss this topic with them accordingly.