You might think this topic shouldn’t need explanation or elaboration, but you’d be surprised.
This is the one every woman should know by now not to use. Douches are unnecessary products invented by The Man to solve made-up problems and make a buck. Vaginas, like ears, clean themselves. There’s good bacteria in your vagina that fights off infection, and when you douche, the good stuff is cleaned out along with the bad stuff, leaving your acidic and alkaline balances all off kilter and your vadge prone to infection. Douching can also cause allergic reactions or spread existing infections to the uterus and fallopian tubes, causing more serious problems like pelvic inflammatory disease. And then how “fresh” will you feel? The same goes for feminine hygiene sprays and other deodorizers — fragrances are for potpourri. If you need more convincing, read Tom Robbins’ “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.”
2. Herbal Sachets or “Detox Pearls”
Created for a germ-obsessed world (like the one depicted in “Safe” starring Julianne Moore), these are the 21st century version of douches. And they come with the same warnings and then some (Toxic Shock Syndrome, anyone?). Don’t just take it from us, take it from a gynecologist who will show you some very unpleasant images of used sachets (don’t read this before lunch).
We can thank Gwenyth Paltrow for perpetuating the creation of imaginary first-world problems with her recommendation of, yes, vaginal cleanses. (So L.A.) Fortunately, the media loves dumping on the insufferable Goop creator, so there was widespread ridicule of this preposterous “service.”
This one may seem a bit counter-intuitive. You want to be clean and showered. But soap can be drying, especially inside. Remember, the vagina is self-cleaning, so stick to washing just the vulva (i.e. the external genitalia, as opposed to the vagina which is the internal canal leading to the uterus) with a natural, mild, fragrance-free soap. Avoid body washes, which often have even more fragrance and alcohol than bar soap. And we know the temptations that come along with back massagers, but don’t even think about using your back scrubber down there!
Resist the temptation to recreate the refrigerator scene from 9 1/2 Weeks, at least down there. The vagina is not a bowl; you can’t eat whipped cream or cereal out of it. Food can be irritating and cause infection. So keep the chocolate sauce and wasabi on tough external skin surfaces only and away from any sensitive mucus membranes.
6. Cheap Sex Toys
There are so many high-quality, body-safe toys made by reputable manufacturers these days for any budget that there’s really no excuse to resort to novelties, which may be made with toxic materials, rough seams, and weak motors, and often don’t come with use or care instructions. Stick with well-reviewed and -respected companies, like Fun Factory, Vibratex, or our BFFs LELO.com. Your body will thank you.
7. DIY Toys
Again, there’s no excuse not to have a decent go-to vibe at the ready, whereby you’re forced to make your own sex toy on the fly with found objects. DIY contraptions may break (inside you), are often not aerodynamic, and are rarely as aesthetically pleasing as the real deal. There are also so many eco-friendly rechargeable models that you no longer have to worry about batteries dying on you at that critical moment. (Okay, okay: if you scrub a firm cucumber clean and put a condom on it, we guess that kind of desperate ingenuity is permissible in a pinch. But please don’t serve it to any guests later.)
8. Anything That’s Been in a Butt
Fecal matter entering the vagina is a leading cause of vaginosis, a bacterial infection that can cause burning, itching, abnormal discharge and foul odor. So if something — a finger, a penis, a toy — has gone in a butt or on/around an anus, don’t then put it in a vagina or on the vulva.
9. Condomless Penises
Condoms are like seatbelts: they may not protect you from everything every time, but they greatly reduce the risk of harm. So it’s best to “buckle up” every time to help prevent the spread of STDs and unwanted pregnancy. Plus, condoms make clean up a cinch! (Obviously, the “Ever” in the title of this post may be disregarded if you two are in a committed, body-fluid bonded relationship who’ve been tested together, are on birth control or else trying to get pregnant, and are willing to take the STD risks.)
10. High-Absorbency Tampons
At least when you don’t need them. Researched has linked high absorbency with increased risk for TSS. So use the lowest absorbency for your flow. Or better yet, intersperse with pads, or to eliminate the risk altogether, use pads exclusively. Or best yet, go with a Diva Cup, a Blossom Cup, or a Lena Cup — they’re cost effective, eco-friendly, body safe, chemical-free; they offer better leak protection; and you can go a lot longer between changes!
Lie under the bathtub faucet, use your detachable shower head, straddle the jets in the Olympic-sized pool, invest in a waterproof vibrator. Just make sure the water’s not scalding hot, and do NOT aim a strong stream of water directly into your vagina — it can cause a fatal air embolism. (That’s when an air bubble gets into your bloodstream — if the bubble reaches your heart or lungs, it can kill you.)
Similarly, don’t blow air directly into the vagina like it’s some “cool, new” sex trick. Just like a strong stream of water, it can cause a fatal air embolism.
Want more DOs when it comes to vaginal care?
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