Nine Disturbing Vaginal Trends

Disturbing Vaginal Trends

The vagina is a self-cleaning, self-regulating, generally wonderful thing—let it do its stuff without any outside help!

1. Please, Please, Please Do Not Put 'Womb Detox Pearls' Into Your Vagina

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Fad detox programs have managed to convince thousands of seemingly intelligent people that a restricted diet can restore their body to a purer state. But what’s the next step for women who have already cleansed their blood, GI tracts, and chakras? Thankfully, they no longer need to rely on the time-tested combination of anatomy, physiology, and medical care to keep their reproductive tracts footloose and toxin free. Now you can place a ball of herbs (or “pearl”) wrapped in a piece of gauze into your vagina to “detox your womb.”

According to Embrace Pangaea, one of the companies that manufactures detox pearls, the cleanse treats the “toxins from a poor diet, chemical based environment, and emotional stress (that) can get stuck in your womb.” These ominous, unspecified toxins are allegedly/reportedly responsible for “major imbalances” like bacteria vaginosis, yeast infections, endometriosis, infertility, vagina pain, excess bleeding, vaginal dryness, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and fibroids. These imbalances are sometimes referred to by another, better known term: medical conditions.

Your womb and vagina are self-cleaning organs. Helpful bacteria, natural secretions, a carefully maintained pH, and your hormone cycle all help to keep the female reproductive tract healthy. In most cases, no intervention is required. In general, your body will signal you when something is awry through symptoms like dryness, bleeding, pain, unusual discharge, itching, or foul odor. There are scientifically-supported medical treatments and therapies available for these gynecological conditions. There are also hoax treatments that may do more harm than good—like detox pearls.

Detox pearls are cloth-covered balls containing herbs like mothersworth, osthol, angelica, borneol, and rhizoma. Purveyors claim that they can detox your womb and reset your natural balance by, among other things, increasing elasticity, regulating the menstrual cycle, killing parasites and (bad) bacteria, improving fertility, reducing discharge, and removing toxins (there’s that undefined word again).

You might notice a rather glaring error in the system here. Despite the urging of the woman in the instructional video, you cannot place one of these detox pearls in your womb. The womb is separated from your vagina (and the outside world) by the cervix. There is a hole in the center of your cervix, the os, that opens naturally to release the contents of your uterus during labor and (to a lesser degree) during menstruation. When closed, it keeps your uterus off limits to things you place in your vagina—tampons, penises, sex toys, and magical herb balls.

Naturally, there is no given explanation for how the detox herbs, once placed in your vagina, manage to open the cervical os, penetrate the uterus, and allow the accursed toxins, fibroids, and excess endometrium to exit your body and restore balance. This is because detox herbs and reproductive organs do not work that way.

In addition to the myriad of benefits offered by Embrace Pangaea, womb detoxes from Sacred Blood Womb Wellness claim to treat pelvic inflammatory disease, sexually transmitted infections, postpartum hemorrhage, uterine polyps, and ovarian cysts. These claims are bald-faced lies. Despite customer testimony accompanied by some rather graphic user submitted photographs on the company websites, there is no evidence of these benefits—or any benefits—in the use of these or any other womb detox products. Peer-reviewed studies indicate that some of the herbs mentioned on the Embrace Pangaea site do have beneficial medical properties, but none of the above medical conditions are included. These studies focus on intravenous and oral use of the herbs (and are largely conducted on rats). I found no data on whether inserting these herbs in the vagina has any effect on the uterus.

The sales portion of the Embrace Pangaea site walks back its claims slightly, warning users that “Information and statements regarding dietary/herbal products have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.” Since they acknowledge that the pearls serve no health function, it leaves one to assume that the only purpose of using these is to make your vagina smell like a garden party.

Of course, companies behind womb detox programs neglect to inform you of the very real risks that may come with their use. Like douching, these herbs may disrupt the good bacteria (lactobacilli) in your vagina, causing harm to the natural balance that it claims to restore. The textured mesh wrapping of the pearls may irritate and scratch your vaginal walls, increasing susceptibility to infection. As is the case with tampons, a foreign object left in your vagina for 24 hours can put you at risk for toxic shock syndrome (despite the outraged blog post on Embrace Pangaea’s site strenuously denying this, it’s true that leaving any foreign object in the vagina can serve as a potential nidus for bad bacteria to grow).

Whatever success these companies have had can be attributed to the factors they implicitly prey on: a combination of fear, miseducation, and lack of access to health care, as well as a heavy dose of pandering to ideas of female strength and purity. Womb detox enters the scene under the guise of empowering “wombmen” (!) to protect and restore the “foundation (of their) stability.” It reduces women to their wombs, positioning the uterus as the biological equivalent of a Captain Planet ring—the source of our power and how we interact with the world. The deliberate use of the word “womb,” which evokes images of motherhood and femininity, rather than the word clinical word “uterus,” is a clever PR trick. Lifting the uterus up in importance with the heart and brain, detox companies urge women to purge all of the emotional grief and trauma from their wombs, the conduit for “bringing souls into this world.”

In reality, women who use these products in their vaginas are either throwing their money away or risking very real damage to their reproductive health. Your womb naturally purges itself via the menstrual cycle. There are no emotions and toxins stuck in your uterus. It does not need to have its balance restored, it needs to be left alone (or attended to by a healthcare professional). Do not torture it by stuffing a ball of herbs inside your vagina.

In general, the word “detox” should immediately set off alarm bells; programs that claim to cleanse your body of dreaded toxins are either pointless exercises in ascetic living or dangerous practices that can have a serious effect on an individual’s wellbeing. But people continue to be duped into believing that these strange, often grueling regimens will do a better job of detoxifying their body than their liver and kidneys. They won’t. I wish every dollar spent on detox pearls could have been spent on a doctor’s visit, or a donation to Planned Parenthood: two institutions that might actually do a “wombman” some good.

2. Don't Put Ground Wasp Nest On Your Vagina To Highten Muscles, Warns Gynaecologist

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An all-natural treatment for women looking to rejuvenate and tighten their vagina is giving doctors serious cause for concern – ground-up wasp nests.

That’s right, some women are actually using oak galls – tree deformities caused by wasp nests – as an at-home remedy for vaginal rejuvenation.

But, while some natural ingredients are hailed for their ability to alleviate health problems, Canadian gynaecologist Jen Gunter says using this method can have serious long-term implications.

Formed when a wasp lays eggs in a tree’s leaf buds so that the larva can develop inside, oak galls are being sold by online retailers – including Etsy - who claim that grounding them into a paste can help tighten the vagina and get rid of bad smells.

But, Dr Gunter has slammed the practice on her blog warning women that using this method could lead to painful sex, a lack of healthy bacteria and an increased risk of contracting HIV.

“This product follows the same dangerous pathway of other 'traditional' vaginal practices.

“Drying the vaginal mucosa increases the risk of abrasions during sex (not good) and destroys the protective mucous layer (not good).

“It could also wreak havoc with the good bacteria. In addition to causing pain during sex it can increase the risk of HIV transmission. This is a dangerous practice with real potential to harm.”

The Etsy retailer that Dr Gunter found selling the oak galls – Heritage Health Shop – claimed that they could improve sex lives and be used on cuts with a warning that the paste will hurt.

“Here's a pro-tip, if something burns when you apply it to the vagina it is generally bad for the vagina,” Dr Gunter added.

While it’s worth noting that this particular seller has since removed their listing, oak galls are still available elsewhere.

In fact, one store called Indojuara continues to market the product as a way to tighten the vagina, cure urinary infections and even abolish bad odours.

But, as you might predict, none of these claims are backed by science.

3. Gwyneth Paltrow wants women to steam clean their vaginas — but medical experts don’t recommend it 

Gwyneth Paltrow wants you to steam clean your vagina — but health experts think her latest lifestyle advice full of hot air.

On her GOOP website, the Oscar winner personally endorsed the Mugwort V-Steam procedure at Tikkun Spa in Santa Monica — a bit of TMI that’s also being slammed by experts.

"If you want to feel relaxed get a good massage — if you want to relax your vagina, have an orgasm,” said Dr. Jen Gunter, a California ob-gyn who specializes in vulvovaginal disorders.

"Mugwort or wormwood ... can't possibly balance any reproductive hormones, regulate your menstrual cycle, treat depression, or cure infertility," Gunter added in a blog post.

Mugwort, a popular herb in Asian medicine, is thought to cleanse the body, boost energy, neutralize stomach pain, regulate periods, and even improve mental health.

And such private parts treatment has been around for 1,500 years and was used on Chinese emperors. But we know better today.

"I would never tell anybody to do this because the potential risks are much higher than the potential benefits,” Dr. Amos Grunebaum, an ob-gyn at New York Presbyterian Hospital, told the Daily News.

Worst case scenario? Death. Grunebaum told the News that there have been cases of women dying after filling their vagina with water or air pressure.

There is no hard research on Paltrow’s vagina steaming, but Grunebaum said there is evidence that douching is bad for women's health because it messes with normal bacteria, you know, down there.

Steam that gets into the uterus may also migrate to the fallopian tubes, which could result in a miscarriage, or the abdominal cavity, which could seriously sicken the patient.

Tikkun's owner Niki Han Schwarz defended her service as completely safe.

"The last thing I want to do is harm anybody," said Schwarz, who said vaginal steam baths helped her get pregnant in her 40s.

That part of the service wasn’t on Paltrow’s mind when she praised the procedure, which costs $50 for 30 minutes.

"You sit on what is essentially a mini-throne, and a combination of infrared and mugwort steam cleanses your uterus, et al.," Paltrow, 42, wrote on GOOP, touting the procedure’s cleansing, “energetic release,” and hormonal balance.

Guys can take part too, except the V-steam for them goes by a different name — the A-steam — and the solution travels up a different orifice.

No word on if Paltrow's ex Chris Martin ever joined her for a steam, but the star did encourage the procedure for everyone.

"If you're in LA, you have to do it," she wrote.

It may not be limited to Los Angeles pretty soon. After Paltrow’s GOOP post went up, Schwarz’s vagina steamer was booked solid into the weekend.

4. Please don’t buy a ‘vagina tightening stick’

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*Sigh* Dr Jen Gunter – who’s previously spoken out about why the balls of herbs are such an awful idea – brought this product to light on her blog, in a post titled: ‘Don’t use a Japanese vagina stick to “tighten” your vagina, okay?’ Turns out that online stores (including sellers on Amazon and Etsy, who we really encourage to look into the products they allow on their sites) are selling what they call vagina tightening sticks, or wands.

These are sticks of made of ground up plants, herbs, and other mysterious substances, that those worried about their tightness are encouraged to insert inside their vaginas for two minutes. The sellers promise that the stick will tighten and ‘clean’ the vagina, with one company suggesting the resulting tightness will ‘make you feel wanted again.’ Right. So this is for our partners. So he’ll want us again – now that our vaginas aren’t giant caves of despair. It’s also claimed that the sticks will eliminate vaginal discharge.

And this is where we remind everyone, once again, that the vagina is a self-cleaning, self-regulating, generally wonderful thing. It’s not supposed to be a pencil-narrow suction cup, and it’s most definitely NOT supposed to be discharge-free (discharge is all part of our lovely cleaning process. Accept it. Love it). We won’t even get into the very damaging idea that women need to ‘tighten ourselves’ to make themselves desirable to men, because frankly, we could bang on about that for hours. So let’s just focus on all the potential negative effects these sticks could have on your vagina, remembering that these products have not been properly tested or regulated by any health-themed governing body.

Dr Jen Gunter explains that the chemicals in these sticks work to temporarily dry out the vagina – a very bad thing. She writes: ‘The lack of wetness and pain from the resulting abrasions may also cause the pelvic floor to spasm during sex (not in a good way) and this will tighten the vaginal opening (which can make insertion painful). ‘Practices that dry the vagina are known to increase the transmission of sexually transmitted infections. never mind make sex painful for the woman.

‘If the Japanese vaginal stick can only be inserted for 2 minutes then it is almost certainly a direct caustic effect from chemicals (that is if it has any effect, the 2 minutes thing could just be smoke and mirrors to get a good placebo response like the $39.99). ‘But if it does have some effect on the vagina it’s like over washing your hands until they are dried and cracked and bleeding, but achieved in 2 minutes. In the vagina.’ Ouch. And, as Dr Jen reminds us, vaginas are SUPPOSED to be relaxed and wet during sex. That’s what makes sex pleasurable.

So, to recap. Please, please do not use herbal sticks to ‘tighten’ your vagina. Don’t put any herbs up there, in fact. If you’re genuinely feeling concerned about tightness, we’d recommend trying kegels. Your vagina is amazing and can pretty much left alone to do its business. Love it and leave it be.

5. Please Don't Put Garlic In Your Vagina

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In the list of things you shouldn't put in your vagina, here's one we never thought we'd have to explain: garlic. But, as Jen Gunter, MD, writes in a recent blog post, women are attempting to treat vaginal yeast infections with garlic. And no, that is definitely not a good idea.

Yeast is a fungus, so yeast infections are fungal infections. And garlic does seem to have some anti-fungal properties, which is where the whole clove-in-vag theory comes from, Dr. Gunter explains. But there are more than a few issues here.

First off, you'll have to chop the garlic up to get any sort of effect. "So putting whole clove in your vagina will do nothing except expose your inflamed vagina to the possible soil bacteria (like Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes botulism) that still could be clinging to the garlic," writes Dr. Gunter.

But if you're planning to chop up your cloves, stuff 'em in gauze, and then put that inside you, that's also not a great idea: The garlic won't be in close contact with your tissue, so it's unlikely to have any major effects, and the fibers from the gauze may cause irritation.

The best way to treat recurrent yeast infections is still with the help of a medical professional. Dr. Gunter suggests asking your doctor to take a swab of the yeast in your vagina to make sure that a yeast infection is really to blame for your issues. These can be easily confused with other conditions, such as bacterial vaginosis (which requires antibiotics, not anti-fungal medications), so getting an accurate diagnosis is key. If it's a recurrent infection, testing to reveal the specific strain of fungus causing the infection can help your doctor pick appropriate (and more targeted) medications.

Of course, you can always just eat the garlic. Studies haven't found any conclusive evidence that doing so will affect the yeast in your vagina, but that doesn't make your favorite pesto taste any less good.

6. No, You Don’t Need ‘Vagina Lipstick’

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It seems plucked right off the pages of Gwyneth Paltrow’s diary, but VMagic Feminine Lips Stick is a real and unnecessary product that promises to keep your vulva “balanced, moisturized and purified.”

Yes, people. We’re talking about “lipstick for your vagina,” as it’s been dubiously termed.

The product is really more like a chapstick ― “Because your other lips get chapped, too!” is an actual tagline ― and it’s made with organic avocado oil and honey. It claims to treat things like itch and discomfort, skin dryness, “odor causing bacteria” and ingrown hairs.

This puts “vagina lipstick” in the pantheon of insane and unnecessary health products marketed to prey on women’s insecurities about their own bodies. It’s on par with vaginal facials and insertable jade eggs, both of those were deemed questionable by medical professionals. And acccording to Dr. Maria Isabel Rodriguez, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health and Science University, you really shouldn’t use this, either.

“At first glance, the idea of vulvar lipstick sounds like a joke, or another harmless beauty product,” Rodriguez told The Huffington Post, but she listed a few very real reasons it may not be harmless at all.

Despite the fact that the balm boasts a natural bill of ingredients, Rodriguez pointed out “vulvar skin is very sensitive, and generally does best without any special soaps or shampoos.”

“If symptoms are so bothersome that women need treatment, they should absolutely discuss this with their gynecologist,” she said. Issues like itching or pain or symptoms from vaginal atrophy should be handled by professionals, she added, not vulvar lipstick. It worries her that women may use Lips Stick to treat symptoms, she said.

“While symptoms may be caused by yeast or hormonal changes, it is essential they be evaluated to rule out any chronic skin conditions like lichen sclerosus [patches of thin, white skin] or even vulvar cancer,” she said.

Both Rodriguez and the VMagic website point out that the balm is for external use only.

“The lipstick should never be used internally,” Rodriguez said. “That could cause a change in pH, vaginal infections and all kinds of misery. It concerns me that products like these perpetuate the idea that there is something inherently wrong with women’s reproductive organs ― that they need a balm, a shampoo or perfume.”

Unless you’re dealing with an actual medical condition, your genitals are self-sufficient as they are. The vagina is virtually self-cleaning, it’s supposed to smell, and symptoms like itching, discomfort and unusual odors can be signs of a health issue that needs professional attention. Although the balm can also be used for things like chafing, rash and ingrown hairs, Rodriguez said those can be remedied by using a warm compresses and gentle exfoliation and not picking at your skin.

For now, please keep your love of lipstick on your face, thank-you-very-much.

7. No, Gwyneth Paltrow, women should not put jade eggs in their vaginas, gynecologist says

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It wasn't that long ago when Gwyneth Paltrow raved about the benefits of vaginal steaming, a non-scientifically proven process of sitting over a hot pot of water filled with herbs for up to 45 minutes to “cleanse your uterus” and “balance female hormone levels,” as the actress had put it.

Most recently, Paltrow's lifestyle website Goop, which promoted vaginal steaming, is at it again with another advice for women: putting a jade egg — yes, a solid object about the size of a golf ball — in your vagina, and keeping it there all day or while you're sleeping.

For $66 a piece, the jade eggs, once “the strictly guarded secret” of Chinese queens and concubines to please their emperors, would help boost your orgasm and “increase vaginal muscle tone, hormonal balance, and feminine energy in general,” reads the beginning of an article titled “Better Sex: Jade Eggs for Your Yoni.”

But a California gynecologist wasted no time letting Paltrow — and the rest of the world — know what she thinks of those jade eggs, which, according to the website, are already sold out.

Dr. Jen Gunter, an OB/GYN for Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, called the idea “the biggest load of garbage” she's read on Goop since vaginal steaming and worse than saying wearing bras is linked to cancer.

Gunter first took issue with the article's introduction.

“Nothing says female empowerment more than the only reason to do this is for your man!” she wrote in a seething blog post addressed to Paltrow. “And then the claim that they can balance hormones, is quite simply, biologically impossible...As for female energy? I'm a gynecologist and I don't know what that is!?”

Gunter also talked about the potential health risks.

Jade is porous, she said, so leaving the egg in one's vagina during sleep “could allow bacteria to get inside” and cause bacterial vaginosis or even Toxic Shock Syndrome, a life-threatening complication caused by bacterial infections.

“This is not good, in case you are wondering,” Gunter wrote.

Walking around with it inside is another bad idea, she said.

“I would like to point out that your pelvic floor muscles are not meant to contract continuously,” Gunter wrote. “In fact, it is quite difficult to isolate your pelvic floor while walking so many women could actually clench other muscles to keep the egg inside.”

Goop has not responded to a request for comment from The Washington Post.

The rest of the Goop article is a question-and-answer write-up with Shiva Rose, an actress and beauty guru who said she's been using jade eggs for years. Rose said using jade eggs enhances not only your libido, but also your physical appearance.

“And, this is weird one, but I sometimes feel people are more attracted to you when you're carrying a jade egg,” she said. “My 20-year-old daughter was joking about it one day, we were walking down the street and she was like, 'Mom, are you wearing a jade egg?'”

The eggs also create kidney strength, Rose claimed. And jade, as a gem, is a “powerful” material that “takes away negativity and cleanses.”

At the end of the article is a disclaimer saying the views of the author “do not necessarily represent the views of Goop, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners.”

“The article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice,” the disclaimer states.

Gunter's blog post, written on Tuesday, has been viewed about 600,000 times, she wrote in another post Friday.

Another doctor has debunked claims about what jade eggs can supposedly do.

“There are no studies or evidence to show that jade eggs help with orgasms, vaginal muscle tone or hormonal balance,” Dr. Leena Nathan, an assistant clinic professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UCLA Health, told Fox News. “Jade does not result in hormonal changes even when inserted in the vagina.”

Paltrow, a cookbook author who's been described as a lifestyle guru, launched Goop in the fall of 2008 out of her kitchen as a weekly newsletter. It has since evolved into a lifestyle website offering style tips, recipes and its own line of organic skin-care products. Paltrow also uses the website to give suggestions to readers about where to shop and eat.

Goop has promoted other eye-rolling ideas, like a $15,000 gold dildo and some sex dust to add to your smoothie.

8. Please Don't 'Glue' Your Vagina Shut During Your Period 

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An obviously male doctor in Kansas thinks that as an alternative to pesky and unseemly tampons, women should basically start gluing their vaginas shut. In case the word “glue” next to the word “vagina” didn’t already make this apparent, this is a very, very bad idea. And before you ask, no, he is not joking.

Daniel Dopps is a Wichita chiropractor and the proud creator of Mensez, what he describes as a “feminine lip-stick” to help ladies combat heavy flow. But unlike lipstick, Mensez doesn’t just paint your vaginal lips a lovely shade of blush. It literally sticks them together, turning the female body into a biological DivaCup. Since debuting in January, the invention has attracted a fair amount of attention, including in popular women’s magazines.

Dopps explained to Gizmodo that Mensez is a “natural combination” of amino acids and oils, to be applied during a lady’s time of month via a convenient lipstick applicator. The seal holds everything in there until she goes to the bathroom, when the seal disintegrates. Then you simply reapply.

Again, this is a really bad idea. For one, Jen Gunter, a San Francisco OB/GYN, points out that reapplying some kind of glue to the labia over and over again could cause abrasions, even potentially causing it to grow together and require surgical separation. And it could be painful—way more uncomfortable than your average tampon. Plus, the whole things sounds just completely far-fetched.

“The idea that a complete blood tight seal could be obtained with some kind of simple home application is ridiculous,” Gunter wrote on her blog. “Perhaps he has never seen labia up close?”

Dobbs told Gizmodo that his invention was inspired by a neighbor who he said lost her legs due to toxic shock syndrome, a rare but serious complication of certain bacterial infections that can result from leaving a tampon in too long. He’s married and has a 30-year-old daughter. He said he has often observed that women seem to be frequently embarrassed and ashamed by their periods. So why not dispose of evidence of them like tampons, to make being a woman, at long last, embarrassment free!

Dobbs claims his reading pointed him to the idea that at one point in history, women’s bodies naturally produced a substance similar to his glue, because he could find no mention of how women prior to 200 years ago dealt with their flow.

“I’m a doctor and I understand human anatomy,” he said. “I see how women are designed. I really believe women’s bodies were functioning this way in years past.”

Asked to provide evidence of such ancient women with magically self-sealing genitals, he said he has not seen any scientific research suggesting as much. And he is wrong that there is no evidence of how women dealt with their periods in history. In fact, the evidence is substantive. In Ancient Rome, for one, women wore wool tampons soaked in opium to ease cramping, which honestly sounds pretty sweet. (Also, a chiropractor, while receiving extensive medical training, is not exactly a medical doctor.)

Dobbs’ “lip-stick” has been patented but not yet manufactured. He’s currently seeking developers and investors. Dobbs has received a fair amount of blowback and outrage for his invention, which he finds distressing. He just wants to help women, he says. And he said women he’s spoken with have expressed enthusiasm, including his daughter, who has tested it out.

“I’m not insane,” he told Gizmodo. “Men just aren’t allowed to have an opinions on these things. If [women] look at what I’m doing, I have a really elegant solution here.”

9. Don’t put yoni oil inside your vagina

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It’s also a place where people are free to sell nonsensical, and often dangerous, products – specifically targeted at our insecurities around vaginas.

Etsy is still allowing people to sell detox balls and vagina tightening sticks, despite professionals advising Etsy of how dangerous these products can be when used as the sellers advise. Browsing through Etsy recently, I noticed that the latest trend in unnecessary and potentially dangerous vagina products is something called yoni oil. As with similar vagina-related products on Etsy, Yoni oil is defined differently by different sellers, but the majority boil down to a simple concept: yoni oil is oil designed for your vulva and vagina. Yoni, if you didn’t know, is a word for vulva and vagina derived through hinduism, but it’s been co-opted by all kinds of sellers tacking on terms to products to give them a more ‘spiritual’ feel. The majority of yoni oils have been made with herbs, oils, and petals. Some have also been made with ‘love’ and ‘good vibes’. They promise everything from keeping ‘your flower fresh and balanced’ and ‘help your yoni feel fresh, balanced, and moisturised throughout the day’ to clearing ‘negative vibrations’ and ‘supporting the reproductive system’. If that all sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.

While the ‘good vibes’ and ‘negative vibrations’ bits are contentious in themselves, that’s not the bit we’re worried about (although it’s always a little worrying when people are spending money online to get spiritual healing from someone who may not be even a tiny bit reputable). Our concern is the products themselves, and what these oils can do when applied to the vulva or, as many of the listings suggest, the vagina. There is no need for you to put any cleaning products, moisturisers, creams, or oils inside the vagina to clean it. The vagina is self-cleaning, keeping itself working properly with natural secretions (discharge) and a balance of good bacteria.

You do not need to wash yourself internally, with water, soap, or any other product. Your vagina will take care of itself. But it’s not just that you don’t need these products – it’s that their use could actually end up causing you harm. ‘The vagina contains good bacteria, which are there to protect it,’ Dr Vanessa Mackay, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, told ‘If these bacteria are disturbed it can lead to infection, such as bacterial vaginosis or thrush, and inflammation.’

Shower gels, creams, and oils such as yoni oils  can disrupt bacteria and the vagina’s pH balance, leaving you with a nasty infection. Many of these oils also have worrying ingredients, such as tea tree oil (which can burn the mucosal lining of the vagina) and sugars (which can cause yeast infections). The airy, seductive language in the product’s descriptions, telling customers to place the oil on their ‘feminine area’ rather than specifying the vulva – which would be safer than applying the oil internally – and advising people that these oils can fix fertility issues and low sex drive, is incredibly dangerous. Add to that the harmless sounding names promoting self-love and ‘feminine power’, and the fact that these oils are so freely listed on Etsy is scary.

Many are deemed ‘essential’, or sold as a way to protect women from ‘unpleasant odours’ – suggesting that the vagina left in its natural state is ‘unpleasant’. Which it isn’t. Yoni oils are not essential. They are not helpful. They could end up causing you harm.

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