Your vagina – it’s a beautiful, complicated and delicate thing. And it’s really important to take care of it properly, otherwise we could putting ourselves at risk of a number of uncomfortable and itchy infections. Like UTIs and thrush. Sometimes we do things to our lady parts, thinking for some reason it’s going to benefit them in some way. But it doesn’t – and they’re actually not going to thank you for it. Just so that you never do any of these heinous things ever again, here are 8 of the worst things you could ever do to your vagina. And never should. Because it deserves better.
1) Douche it
To be clear, this isn’t referring to cleaning the outside of the vagina. You’re perfectly legit to clean the vulva and outer areas. Douching, or shooting water inside the vagina to flush it out, is a big no-no. This advice is everywhere. It’s even on products such as Fem Fresh that are marketed as feminine hygiene products. Just don’t do it. It hugely messes up the delicate pH balance of your lady parts, which can lead to infections such as thrush. So repeat after us: outside, but never inside.
2) Or put any other product up there to clean it
‘The vagina is pretty good at cleaning itself,’ Nancy Herta M.D., an ob-gyn at Michigan State University, has said recently. And she’s right. It doesn’t need our help. So keep it away from soap, perfumes, homemade lubes, fruit, vegetables, balls of herbs or anything else you might (for some reason) want to put inside yourself to keep it clean.
3) Put substances up there to tighten it
Important: your sexual partner should like your vagina just the way it is. There’s no need to tighten it or do anything else to change it’s shape or elasticity. So please don’t use objects like this vagina tightening stick. There are two main ways why this is so bad for you. As well as claiming to clean the vagina with its mixture of plants, herbs and other weird substances, it tries to tighten it by drying it out. And if you have and enjoy sex, then you know just how much of a terrible, painful idea that is. Lubrication is pretty much essential. It also claims to get rid of discharge, which we naturally produce and is normal, healthy and essential for the vagina’s own cleaning system.
4) Or to relieve period pain
Believe or not, some people put weed up their vagina to relieve period pain. A company called Foria has even invented marijuana capsules to target the source of the pain directly. Not only could it get you into serious trouble as weed is, y’know, a Class B illegal drug, but there’s no evidence to suggest it works. No actual testing has been done. We have no idea if it’s safe or not. So, is it really worth the criminal (and who knows, maybe health) risk?
5) Steam it
We’d never recommend taking the word of someone without some qualification in gynaecology. Especially celebrities. Especially when an gynaecologist has taken issue with that advice, as OB/GYN Dr Jen Hunter did with Gwyneth Paltrow’s recommendation of v-steam. This is essentially, as Gwyneth once described, when you ‘sit on what is essentially a mini-throne, and a combination of infrared and mugwort steam cleanses your uterus, et al. It is an energetic release—not just a steam douche—that balances female hormone levels.’ And this is why it’s bollocks according to Jen. ‘The lactobacilli strains that keep vaginas healthy are very finicky about their environment and raising the temperature with steam and whatever infrared nonsense Paltrow means is likely not beneficial and is potentially harmful,’ she writes on her blog. ‘Ms. Paltrow and the people who push V-steams also need a little anatomy lesson because unless that steam is under high pressure (like with ejaculation) it’s not getting from the vagina into the uterus.’ She also says that the plants used are unlikely to affect your hormones, because they aren’t hormones.
6) Pee before sex
After sex, but never before. That’s the mantra you need to follow if you want to avoid pesky, painful urinary tract infections. New York urologist David Kaufman has said that having a wee before sex actually increases your chances of UTIs, calling it the ‘No.1 cause of post-coital urinary tract infections’ – because it leads to a weaker stream after sex, or the lack of a need to go at all. ‘Bacteria have tiny pilli that act as Velcro hooks, which allow them to attach themselves to the urethral lining. Having a solid stream afterward is crucial since the bacteria can be hard to dislodge.’ Holding it is better for creating that solid stream strong enough to clear any bacteria.
7) Don’t dry it after you shower
We get it. You overslept; you’re late for work; you probably just want to pull up your knickers and go. But oh no. Just take a pause for a moment, and pat your vagina dry with your towel. Trust us, it’ll thank you for it later. Jason James, the medical director of Miami’s FemCare, recently explained that if you don’t you’re locking in all the moisture from your shower, creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and infection. ‘Yeast tends to thrive in a moist environment,’ said James. ‘Warmth, moisture, and friction can all lead to irritation and the potential changes in pH that increase favourability for yeast to overgrow and become a clinical infection.’
8) Sleep in your underwear
Allow your lady parts to breathe. It’s what they need. For the same reason you should dry your vagina after you shower, you shouldn’t wear underwear in bed. Gynaecologist Dr Alyssa Dweck revealed earlier this year that if it ‘is constantly covered – especially by a fabric that’s not moisture-wicking or absorbent – moisture collects, creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria or yeast.’ Wearing pants to sleep might also exacerbate infections from ingrown hairs.