The vagina is a remarkable part of the body.
Not only is it a passageway to create human life, but it has historically been used to smuggle everything from drugs, money, watches, mobile phones, and even loaded guns.
What’s not impressive is a move by ‘sexual wellness’ sites making money to convince you that your vagina needs to be steamed, scented, douched or ‘melted’ to make it attractive to sexual partners.
Vaginas aren’t supposed to smell like strawberries and cream. A healthy vagina has a slight odor but nothing unpleasant. Wear underwear that breathes, skip the skinny jeans once in a while, wash with a soap-free product, and then relax.
If you notice any discharge, unpleasant odors, or changes, see your doctor.
Far from ‘improving’ your vagina, the following products and treatments will do the opposite: create problems.
Money-making “sexual wellness” sites try to convince women to buy a variety of products to improve vaginal health, says Tracey Cox (file image)
This tops Goop’s list of most annoying ‘sexual health’ recommendations (and there are many).
Gwyneth’s website advised women to steam their vaginas for “extra energy, rebalancing female hormones and a squeaky clean uterus.”
Yes. It’s as weird as it sounds: you sit or squat over a vaporizer that directs herbal-infused steam into your vagina.
The treatment started in Los Angeles, but a quick (horrifying) search online found many people who also offered the service in the UK.
Here’s why you shouldn’t.
Making your vagina hotter than it’s supposed to be is not a good idea: it stays at body temperature (37 degrees) for a reason. Hot vaginas breed bad bacteria and yeast like candida (candidiasis).
While it may seem gloriously hydrating, water doesn’t hydrate cells. Oil is what lubricates the vagina and a lot of it occurs naturally as long as you don’t steam it out.
There is no evidence that vaginal steam helps any condition. The world’s vagina expert, Dr. Jen Gunter, says it’s “as clear as mud” how steaming herbs are supposed to gain access to the uterus through a tightly closed cervix. The skin of the vagina is delicate, sensitive, and easily damaged. Steaming it can cause burns and scalds.
postpone forever? I hope so!
Goop was sued and settled for a substantial sum by claiming this was good for you too…
Celebrated sex expert Tracey Cox lists sea sponges, ice cubes, and certain foods as items to keep out of the vagina.
2. Jade eggs or yoni eggs
A similar sale: increases the tone of the vaginal muscles! Balance those hormones! Increase feminine energy! (What is ‘feminine energy’?)
This is apparently what will happen if you insert a stone into your vagina for anywhere from a few minutes to overnight, ideally every day.
Once inserted, claim jade egg fans and yoni, your body will be able to harness the intrinsic energy of the stone. Your pelvic muscles have to grip the egg to keep it there, so it also makes you more tense.
Here’s a surprise: there’s no evidence to support any of this.
Eggs are a hoax, an expensive one, if you were tricked into buying one from Gwyneth.
While we’re on the subject of woo-woo, let’s talk about crystals. Some women insert them to cleanse the uterus of ‘bad energy’. Like yoni eggs, everything is a scam. Instead of getting rid of bad energy, you will breed bad bacteria because crystals are porous.
3. Flavored vaginal creams
These were all the rage two years ago. Fortunately, they have fallen somewhat out of favor.
These are suppositories (‘melt’ sounds much sexier) made from natural oils that contain aromas and flavors. She uses them every night to increase moisture in the vagina or to add ‘a shot of moisture’ just before intercourse.
First of all, don’t be fooled by the argument that if something comes from nature, it won’t irritate. Nettles are natural, but you wouldn’t want those in your what not, would you?
Anyone who is prone to yeast infections or irritation should avoid it. Just avoid in general. If you suffer from vaginal dryness, use a safe vaginal moisturizer or lubricant (more on that below). It will be half the price and it will really get the job done.
4. Any scented feminine “hygiene” product
You do NOT need scented feminine washes, sprays, powders or personal wipes to make you smell ‘better’.
You smell great without them (and any pairs that disagree should be thrown out along with the products you’re using).
Soap-free and fragrance-free wash alternatives are fine, but steer clear of the rest.
Until recently, there was little research on the chemicals found in feminine hygiene products and flavored personal lubricants.
We now know that at least some of the ingredients could be toxic to our bodies, and that the mucous membranes of the vagina and vulva quickly absorb any chemical without metabolizing it.
They are less popular these days.
But still, some women can’t break the addiction of spraying liquid that often contains vinegar, baking soda, iodine, antiseptics, and fragrances into their vagina, to make them smell “fresh” to their partners.
Far from keeping you ‘fresh’, douching is more likely to lead to vaginal odor by upsetting the vagina’s delicate pH balance, killing off the good bacteria you need to fight infection, and causing irritation and burning.
Douching after sex will not remove semen, so you will not get pregnant or prevent you from getting an STI.
Yes. Some women believe that too.
6. Some vintage underwear brands
It looks like normal underwear, but it has several layers of polyester microfiber that absorbs menstrual blood to prevent it from spilling on clothes.
So far so good, for people who don’t like to use tampons or pads.
But some period underwear has been found to contain hazardous substances known as PFAS in their absorbent outer and inner linings. Ominously called ‘forever chemicals’, they are a group of long lasting chemicals used to make products that are resistant to heat, oil, stains and water.
You’ll find them in things like plastic food covers and nonstick cookware. They’re as worrisome as they sound because they don’t break down easily in the environment and can seep into your body and accumulate inside of you. PFAS have been linked to irregular periods, high blood pressure, and ovarian disorders.
If you’re still interested in using them, check the fine print carefully and see if it’s ‘PFAS-free’. (PFOA-free means not free of all PFAS).
While we’re on the subject of menstruation…
7. sea sponges
They’re advertised as the ‘natural’ alternative to pads and tampons, but I don’t understand what’s so natural about putting something from the sea in our vaginas.
They represent a significant security risk.
Research has found that sea sponges can contain sand particles, grit, mold, yeast, and the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium, which is responsible for causing toxic shock syndrome.
It’s ironic since many women choose to use sponges because they’re nervous about getting TSS from tampons.
That’s not all – because they are textured and rough, they can cause minor scratches inside the body when inserted and removed, making it even easier for bacteria and other nasties to enter your body.
8. Ice cubes
Sometimes it is recommended as part of the temperature game: to experiment erotically with heat and cold in the erogenous zones; It was also made popular by TikTok videos claiming to insert an ice cube into the vagina before sex makes it tighter. (He doesn’t.)
The problem with ice insertion is that it can stick to the delicate skin of the vagina. If the thought of taking it off hasn’t put you off, cover it with a condom to create a barrier between you and him.
9. Certain foods
Once again, the idea seems sexy. Your partner inserts something into your vagina and enjoys delicious oral sex. This can work with foods that you can easily dispose of: bananas (unpeeled), a washed cucumber or carrot.
However, the list of what is safe is short. Spicy and oily foods upset the pH balance and irritate everything. Bacteria LOVE sugary foods.
Something else that is a breeding ground for bacteria?
10. Sex toys that have not been cleaned properly
Yes, some are designed to do just that, penetrate your vagina, but your vagina will only love them if they’re clean and used with lube.
Most people throw them in the drawer, unwashed, once they’re done and pick them up again when they’ve had a few and feel horny.
No. Clean or wash them with a soap-free cleaner (or a cleaner specially designed for sex toys) before and after use. Rinse well. Dry well.
11. Wicked Lubes
Reach for baby oil and you’ll double the chance of bacterial and yeast infections. Vaseline contains petroleum and does the same thing. Both damage condoms.
(If you don’t have any store-bought lube on hand, coconut oil is your best bet.)
When buying lubricants, avoid flavored varieties, as they contain sugar that can cause yeast infections. Lubricants that contain glycerin can do the same. Avoid all lubricants that contain nasty substances like Nonoxynol-9, fragrances, and parabens.
Listen to Tracey’s award-winning podcast, SexTok, wherever you listen to her podcasts or at sextokpod.com.