One OBGYN shares the dangers and benefits of these trendy vaginal concepts.
By Olivia DeLong
Jade eggs, pelvic floor monitors and douching—you’ve probably heard the hype around these interesting vaginal concepts, but should you test them out?
Certain vaginal products like pelvic floor monitors may actually protect and strengthen your vaginal area, while douching can cause more harm than good. To get to the bottom of these interesting va-jay-jay treatments and devices, we talked with OBGYN Jessica Shepherd, MD, associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Whether you’re interested in buying or you’re just looking to learn about these wacky-sounding tools, find out which products or treatments can be useful and which you should avoid.
What it is: It’s likely you’ve heard about the latest, outrageous products praised and sold on Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP health and wellness website. But if you haven’t, listen up.
Jade eggs are eggs that come in a variety of colors, and Paltrow and team claim that inserting them into the vagina may mimic Kegel exercises, cleanse the vagina, improve vaginal muscle tone, hormonal balance, orgasms and feminine energy all around. The practice is said to have originated from Chinese royalty, queens and concubines used them to stay in good physical shape.
The truth: Jade eggs have not been tested or researched to provide any of these benefits says, Dr. Shepherd. “And the eggs are made of a porous material which could potentially create an environment for bacteria to grow,” she adds.
Image credit: JadeEggsGlobal.com
What it is: Kansas chiropractor Daniel Dobbs created an outrageous product that actually glues the lips of your labia shut during your period. The glue is a combination of amino acids and oil in a lipstick applicator that’s applied to the lips of your labia. After applying the product, your labia remains glued together to prevent leakage while you’re on your period sans tampons or pads. Once you urinate, the labia unsticks and all of blood and urine are deposited.
The truth: This product isn’t on the market yet nor has the FDA approved it, but there are already of red flags, says Shepherd. “If the glue adheres to the labia for a long time and the blood flow is heavy, it can cause irritation, infections and pressure sensations.” Shepherd adds that studies and trials that involve women using the product are needed to confirm whether or not it safe and successful.
What it is: About one in four American women ages 15 to 44 douche, meaning they wash or clean the inside of their vagina with water or other fluids. The mixture, usually in a bottle or bag, is made up of water and vinegar, baking soda or iodine. You squirt the douche upward through a tube or nozzle and into the vagina.
The truth: Douching isn’t recommended by gynecologists, says Shepherd. “The vagina has a very sensitive lining that can be irritated easily, and anatomically, the private regions of the pelvis work to protect women from germs naturally.” Your vaginal lining contains natural mucus and discharge that keep it healthy, so chemicals or perfumes can break down the natural protection of this area and cause infections, she adds. Your vagina already produces natural cleansing fluid, too—when you douche, you’re removing that self-cleaning fluid.
What it is: Simple Kegel exercises are a whole lot more high tech these days. Portable silicone pelvic floor exercise trackers are meant to be inserted into the vagina to guide you through discreet five-minute pelvic muscle exercises. Using force sensors, the device will measure the strength of your squeeze, and displays the results and progress on your smartphone.
The truth: “This is a brilliant device for women who suffer from pelvic muscle pain, overtone or undertone,” says Shepherd. When using the exercises on the device, you’ll get instant feedback on the strength of your pelvic muscles. “As busy as women are today, teaching them how to exercise their pelvic muscles correctly can help prevent future issues like urinary incontinence or pelvic prolapse.” These devices can help you prepare for pregnancy and childbirth, tone and strengthen your core and have better sex. What’s not to love?
Image credit: Elvie.com
What it is: Bush oils and creams are made up of various oils—sunflower seed, apricot kernel, raspberry seed, frankincense, geranium and primrose to name a few. The serums, which also contain omega-6 fatty acids and vitamins A and E, claim to moisturize irritated, dry or sensitive skin and pubic hair when applied to the pubic hair.
The truth: These bush oils and balms are completely natural products made of essential oils and fatty acids, says Shepherd. “If only used on the outside of the vagina, these products can help the public hair region stay smooth and shiny.” Shepherd encourages women to be careful when using any products in the genital region, though. Test these products in small amounts before applying everywhere, in case you have any sensitivity. And never put the oils into your vagina—doing so can cause yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis, says Shepherd.
What they are: Tampons and pads can be a pain, so some companies have come up with alternatives. Insert: anti-microbial underwear, rubber-free inserts and menstrual cups.
The truth: “These alternatives to pads and tampons provide safe options for women who may desire other blood collection options,” says Shepherd. These alternatives are environmentally friendly, comfortable, convenient and cost effective, too, she adds. If you have heavier bleeding and are considering any of the undie products specifically, try testing them when you’re at home to learn if the coverage is right for you.
What it is: Shaving down there is a cost-effective way to keep your vagina groomed, but it puts you at risk for cuts and infections. Vaginal visors and protectors are flexible cups that cover the inner vulva area and protect you from nicks and cuts while shaving, ultraviolet rays and offer protection when trying on lingerie or bathing suits.
The truth: Protecting the sensitive vulva area while shaving is definitely helpful in preventing lacerations, cuts and infections, says Shepherd. While it might be cumbersome to use, she adds, it can protect your inner labia, clitoris and vaginal opening. Shepherd recommends washing anything you’re putting down there thoroughly after every use (or throwing it away), and avoid sharing protectors with others at all costs.
What it is: For decades, women have elected to pierce their clitoris, inner and outer labia and perineum. Some do it for looks and some say it improves their sex life because their clitoris is more stimulated during sex with a piercing. But is it safe?
The truth: Like any piercing, genital piercings can cause infection, bleeding or lack of sensation in the area where it’s applied, says Shepherd.
If you do decide to get your vagina pierced or decorated, make sure the salon is sanitary and clean. “You should make sure that safe, clean practices are used when getting anything done down there,” says Shepherd. If the tools used aren’t sanitized properly, piercings can spread viruses like hepatitis B or C.
And be sure to clean the area as instructed by your piercer, especially in the weeks following the procedure. If you’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant, piercings may make childbirth more difficult, so it’s recommended your remove them before delivery.
Did you know that women are more likely to seek medical care than men? Sexual health needs, like pregnancy and contraception, often necessitate early visits to a doctor. But as we age, various health issues affect women more than ...men, including depression, weight problems, and certain types of arthritis.In order to maintain your health and wellness, make sure you get an annual checkup. More