To ascertain beliefs about douching, douching practices, and their motivational antecedents among adult women living in the southeastern United States, we conducted a telephone survey of a random sample of 535 adult women. Douching was deemed a good hygienic practice by 65% of women, half of whom believed that douching was necessary for good hygiene. These beliefs were more common among black than white women. Older women and less educated women were more likely to believe that douching prevented infections and pregnancies. Physicians were the only discouraging influence regarding douching reported by a substantial proportion of the women. Healthcare providers' advice not to douche is correlated with not douching. Encouragement by mother (OR = 4.7, 95% CI 1.9-11.4), being black (OR = 2.8, 95% CI 1.1-6.9), and having no more than a high school education (OR = 2.2, 95% CI 1.2-4.2) were independently associated with ever (vs. never) douching. A substantial proportion of adult women living in the southeastern United States believe that douching is necessary for good hygiene. Our findings suggest that advice from healthcare providers to discourage the practice may have a salutary effect.