People are looking to make a buck off of anything these days, so it’s no surprise that some businesses are trying to do the same in the feminine hygiene department. Just take a look at its aisle in any supermarket. Sure, there are some useful products such as tampons, sanitary pads, and even menstrual cups to keep women from staining their bottoms during that time of the month. But there have been some dubious products on the market for quite some time. And now, I’ve been seeing a lot of new and utterly questionable products entering the market.
About two years ago, a friend sent me this article talking about a new product for women. The product, called Mensez Feminine Lipstick, was a patented product that looked like your ordinary lipstick but was meant for a different type of lips. It was meant to act as a glue to women’s labias, which would seal and prevent blood from leaking out. The glue was supposedly so strong that blood could not dissolve it. It was meant to hold until a woman peed the glue away, so that a woman can expel both pee and blood at the same time. Yes, this was a serious product.
It was created not by an OB/GYN or anyone in the medical field with specialization in women’s health, but by a chiropractor who believed he had the solution to, according to his comments on his Facebook page, women who were 25 percent less productive than men because they were always distracted by their periods. He made a “solution” to a problem even if it was clear he had no idea what the female anatomy looked like.
While this sounds frustrating and absolutely ridiculous, it’s not the first time that entrepreneurs have tried to sell women products they don’t really need. In fact, contrary to the marketers and advertisers who make it seem like you need this product or you’ll be walking around with a dirty and stinky vagina, you can live your whole life without a lot of these products and live an ordinary and healthy lifestyle.
So, for this article, I want to convince you to do away with these products. If you ever see them in the market or online and the marketing is so good that it makes you think you can’t survive with these products, look at the science behind your vagina, put the box down, and keep walking.
Don’t You Dare Douche
Douching – right next to diamond rings and Coca-Cola – is proof that you can get generations of people to buy your products and believe in its importance with a strategic marketing campaign. To this day, women think that mixing water with acidic cleansers, sticking a nozzle up their vagina, and forcing the mixture inside them will make them cleaner. But really, not that many people in the United States douche, and hardly anyone outside the country do. And for good reason.
Do you know how douching started? It was originally a birth control method before birth control pills were invented. After sex, women would mix water with vinegar, baking soda, or even Lysol – yes, the disinfectant you use to clean your toilets! But, after the pills were invented and there were more scientific studies to back up pills’ efficiency over douching, instead of taking a bow joining the butter churner and other outdated contraptions science has made obsolete, companies that made ready-made douches decided to rebrand. Instead of marketing themselves as birth control, they convinced an entire generation of women that douching was necessary to get rid of bacteria. And ever since, the one in five women who douche argue that their vaginas have less bacteria and are therefore cleaner than a regular vagina, thus less likely to get an infection.
Unfortunately for them, however, having some bacteria in your system is actually a good thing. And killing both good and bad bacteria the unnatural way is actually harmful for your hygiene.
Vaginal Bacteria & Discharge: It’s OK
A lot of women feel embarrassed when they have stains on their underwear from their discharge, when there is a certain scent, or when they admit they don’t use douching or feminine wash. But the truth is, they’re probably much better off than women who use these products.
Vaginal discharge may vary from person to person, and that’s OK. Depending on several factors, it’s just a sign that your vagina is at work, keeping your area clean – because that’s exactly what its job is. Your vagina is not like the rest of your body that needs cleaning because it is a self-cleaning body part. It’s similar to your eyes, which produce tears to ward off foreign objects.
No matter how clean or healthy your vagina is, there’s naturally going to be some bacteria in it, the same way your digestive system has bacteria that is both good (the bacteria you find in yogurt and cultured milk) and bad (the ones that give you infection, like salmonella and E. coli). Douching your vagina means not only killing both the good and bad bacteria (which messes with the bacterial environment which could leave you vulnerable to infection once bad bacteria starts growing again), it also means sticking a nozzle up your vagina that’s likely to push more bacteria deeper into your body.
The Dangers of Douching
Leaving your vagina in such a state can actually open the floodgates for a number of vaginal diseases. Some of these include pelvic inflammatory disorder, bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, sexually transmitted infections, and much more. Messing with your system could affect your ability to get pregnant, carry a child, or double your chances of ovarian cancer. Until now, doctors recommend that you do not douche and, unless you have a specific condition, you leave your vagina alone.
Instead of douching, let your vagina handle itself. According to doctors, all you really need to do is wash the external part of your reproductive system – the labia – with warm water and a mild soap. Feminine wash sometimes messes with the natural acidity, so even that is an unnecessary product.
Yes, these are real products I’ve actually seen in online markets, though have yet to see them in supermarkets or drugstores. Despite the questionable purpose of this product though, I’ve noticed more people selling them, which could mean that there are people out these actually buying these products’ claims.
Vaginal tightening products basically promise women tighter pelvic muscles, which not only promise “Like-A-Virgin” levels of sexual pleasure both for women and their partners, but also to supposedly help with urinary and bowel incontinence, holding the bladder in place, and helping tighten the vagina after having sexual intercourse or giving birth.
The basis is that women’s pelvic muscles stretch or weaken with time and with each pregnancy. In some cases, the lack of use of pelvic muscles can also cause these muscles to weaken. So, basically, if you have sex, you’ll need to tighten your muscles again. And if you don’t have sex, you’ll also need to tighten your muscles. A very convenient fact, or a marketer with a very wide target market?
Do They Even Work?
As with any product that isn’t FDA-approved but isn’t legally allowed to make assurances that won’t always come true, there’s very little proof that these work except for the reviews and comments of people online claiming it has worked for them. And you all know how everyone on the internet is honest and not made-up.
Although it could be an effective placebo, the truth is, the way it works – or claims to work – is not how vaginas work. We have to stop this patriarchal and honestly insulting mindset that a man’s penis or any foreign object widens a vagina or that sex with a virgin is the tightest because she hasn’t been expanded yet. A vagina’s width is nothing like a jar’s “do-not-accept-if-seal-is-broken” label. That. Is. Not. How. The. Vagina. Works.
When a vagina is aroused, it can expand twice its size. Our vaginas aren’t playdough that will take the shape of the penis that entered it and will remain that way after sex. Rather, it will return to its original shape, assuming it even expanded at all. The only time it will change drastically is after giving birth to a child, but it won’t be a permanently leaky situation as many claims it to be. And those who think that a tighter vagina can improve the way we pee and poop can form a group with the labia lipstick guy for people who think women pee and have sex through the same holes.
Tightening Your Vagina Isn’t Natural
Whether you believe in science, religion, or a combination of both, I’m pretty sure neither God nor evolution thought it was necessary to put a questionable cream onto your lady parts to tighten it up for some reason. Do you know what even goes into these creams? A few to mention are:
- Powdered rocks
- Oak galls (those tree growths around wasp larvae used by early doctors to treat vaginal infections, you know, when they weren’t curing the Black Plague at the same time)
- Citrus (great way to mess with your vagina’s natural acidity)
So, forgive me, doctors, and other women who don’t want to dab something sold with the names “China Shrink Cream” or “18 Again” on our lady parts.
What’s worse is that businesses that sell vagina tighteners are playing on a very real issue. Remember when I said that women who have experienced childbirth will feel a difference in their vaginas? It takes time for these women to heal their vaginas, but until then, they may experience vaginal laxity or looseness. And it’s this notion men and women perpetuate about loose vaginas that play with their heads, their need to feel tighter, and their ability to enjoy sexual pleasure that a lot of what they’re going through is just a mental misunderstanding added with misconceptions about pregnancy and sex.
Despite proof that frequent sex doesn’t stretch out a vagina, and treatments to help women overcome these beliefs, businesses that sell vagina tightening creams are perpetuating an old idea that shouldn’t even exist anymore.
Contrary to the marketers and advertisers in the media, your vagina doesn’t have to smell like a flower from the inside out, nor does it have to be tighter than naturally possible. It’s time to end these old and outdated ideas and just let your vagina breathe: leave it alone, only clean the external part, and don’t try to cure a problem that probably doesn’t even exist without talking to your doctor.