If I hear “the vagina is a self-cleaning oven” one more time, I’m going to scream.
In this post I will list:
- Common things that do not belong inside of the vagina
- Reasons why they do not belong
- A few items and products that are allowed inside of the vagina and can improve pelvic health.
First of all, outside of the heat within, there is nothing oven-like about the vagina. Nothing “cooks” in the vagina. If you want to use the analogy more accurately, the uterus should be the oven. Also, when was the last time you used the self-cleaning function on your oven? If I spill something, I either wipe it up/clean it off immediately, or I give Easy-Off some business (I don’t have any business ties with that product, but it works.
Maybe if you slather your oven with soil and chia seeds (like a oven-shaped chia pet) with the chia representing normal bacteria, lactobacillus, the two could resemble each other. I actually like the idea of the vagina as a jungle a little better. Yes, I said a Jungle.
The vagina is like my house. It may be messy, but it is not dirty. Lol.
If you imagine a jungle, it has the right balance of predators and pray, of algae, even of bacteria. If someone dropped off a new species of frogs that multiplied too quickly, it may eat too much foliage and offset the balance for the other species of plants and animals to thrive. How do you fix that problem? I know what you WOULD NOT want to do. You wouldn’t want to show up with a turbo water hose and try to wash away the whole jungle. You may wash away the frogs, but also everything else that is supposed to be there.
That is exactly what douching does.
It washes away everything, even the good bacteria. While you may feel fresh temporarily, the opportunity for infections to regrow in the setting of a disturbed ecosystem. Okay, I’m finished with the jungle analogy. But do you now see why we gynecologists don’t like douche?
Here are my top five offenders.
- Douche- especially with antiseptics like peroxide. That’s a big PLEASE DON’T.
- Detox sacks/pearls
- Any kind of soap or body wash
It is important that we review what I mean by the vagina.
The vagina is the inside, the vulva is the outside.
The vagina is the tube portion. it extends to a degree to what is between the labia, or the lips. When you clean the external portion, especially the part that contains hair follicles and skin like that on the rest of your body, soap and body wash is acceptable. For some the skin of the vulva is more sensitive that others. Some can only use soaps formulated for sensitive skin in that area.
When people say, “Don’t clean the vagina with anything but water,” they literally mean the inside portion. I would even venture to say, you don’t even NEED to clean the inside of the vagina with water. I mean you can rinse between the labia, but you don’t NEED to clean the tube portion with anything. It’s a jungle with an ecosystem, remember. The outside, however, will very likely need more than water. Especially after a good spin class at the gym or a hot summer day. Scrub a dub dub, please.
So what is wrong with the items on my list?
Jade is a porous rock. That means things, namely germs, can hide in the crevices. Doctors worry about bacterial growing on these items and increasing a woman’s risk for vaginal infections and even toxic shock.
Cucumbers have no acidic quality to promote healthy lactobacillus growth. They can harbor both bacteria and fungi that are unwelcome in your vagina. Also, depending on the way the cucumber is prepared (I can’t believe I am talking about preparing a cucumber for vaginal insertion like that is a thing,) it could damage the tissue on the inside of the vagina and make it more susceptible to infections, especially sexually transmitted ones. A person may feel “fresher” temporarily, but the disruption can definitely be harmful.
Womb Detox sacks or pearls often claim to treat fibroids, ovarian cysts, endometriosis and other infections, however fibroids form as a result of hormones and genetics, not toxins. Herbs that claim to remove them often have no scientific backing or logical explanation as to how they do so. To LITERALLY add insult to injury, many claim that a woman should expect to feel irritation, sometimes odor and often increased discharge during the process. Those symptoms are glaring signs of a problem, though. Some you are supposed to leave for days- toxic shock much? Just NO.
I already said my piece about douche and soaps. I just can’t leave my readers with nothing left to put in their vaginas. (Really, Dr. Wendy?)
What neighbors are welcome in your beautiful vaginal neighborhood?
- A Tampon, for 8 hours or less of course.
- A Diva Cup- apparently they work wonders for many women. Lots of my patients use them.
- Olive Oil- a nice natural moisturizer for the external vulva, especially for menopausal ladies.
- Boric acid suppositories- In selected circumstances and under the direction of your doctor, these can help reset the pH in the vagina. Read more about boric acid and douching here. It cannot be stressed enough, the suppositories are placed IN THE VAGINA ONLY. If swallowed, they can cause serious harm.
- Probiotics- though there are not yet vaginal probiotic suppositories, there are oral ones that have scientific evidence backing their vaginal bacterial improvement. Click here for a post all about the specific probiotics studied.
What is a Yoni anyway?
The term Yoni was not taught in medical school or residency. I had to do a little research and found some pretty cool stuff. The term originates from the noun Yonis, from Hinduism. Check out this definition:
1. The female genitalia, regarded as a divine symbol of sexual pleasure and matrix of generation and the visible form of [the goddess] Shakti2. An image of these as an object of worship
Powerful, right? Divine? Absolutely. I am here for this definition. It further supports the point that something so powerful and divine does not require cleaning or detoxifying. It just doesn’t.
Resist the urge to put gimmicks and quick fixes in your vagina. If you think something is off, or not quite right, please see a qualified health professional for evaluation and advice. Some people seem to be more prone to problems in this arena than others, but we can work together to keep you as healthy and whole as possible. You and your “self cleaning oven.” (Screaming inside.)
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Dr. Wendy Goodall McDonald is a board certified OBGYN. She began practicing medicine in 2007 and now uses her extensive knowledge and growing following to increase health awareness in a fun and viral way. She is the founder of The Gyneco-blogic and an author of numerous books for adult and childhood health education and social growth. For more, check me, I mean her out at dreverywoman.com