You won’t believe what sex toys, lotions and creams, and other surprising items are on your vagina’s sworn enemy list.
Your vagina can bring incredible pleasure-this we know. But it can also feel significant amounts of pain if it’s not taken care of correctly. That includes avoiding products, toys, and toiletries that pose a hidden threat to the health of your vag. “The vagina contains the most delicate and sensitive skin of your entire body, and things that seem harmless can leave you with an infection, irritation, burns, or other damage,” says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical associate professor of ob-gyn at Yale School of Medicine. Here, 10 things you should never put in your vagina-no exceptions.
1. Rubber of Soft Plastic Sex Toys
After just a little wear and tear, vibrators made from soft, flexible plastic or jelly-like rubber can develop tiny nicks and grooves where microbes can hide. Insert that into your vagina and you may have just scored yourself an infection, says Minkin. Go with silicone, stainless steel, or hard plastic pleasure products instead, as they won’t break down and degrade. (These are the Best Sex Toys and Vibrators for Women.) And though it’s probably the last thing you want to do after a sex session, make sure you wash your toy with soap and water right after it’s used-and don’t forget to replace it in the appropriate time window.
2. Fruits and Vegetables
Believe it or not, questions like, “Is it safe to put a cucumber in you?” and “Is it safe to put a banana inside you?” are commonly typed into the all-knowing Google search engine. Your answer: No, it’s not. Even organic produce that’s been scrubbed clean still carries bacteria, and while it likely wouldn’t be a threat to your digestive tract, it introduces the microbes to your private parts. That can upset the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina, which means there’s potential for a lovely bacterial or yeast infection to develop, says Minkin. If you’re jonesing for some stimulation, skip the produce section and go to the sex toy store instead. (Speaking of yeast infections, have you been fooled by these 5 myths about ’em?)
3. Pubic Hair Dye
Experimenting with the color of your pubic hair earns creativity points, sure, but it’s not a smart idea. The skin around your pubes is way more sensitive than your scalp, and if the chemicals in the dye make contact with your labia (not to mention get past your vaginal opening), you could be in for burning sensations that won’t exactly make sex all that enticing, says Minkin. So consider hair dye of any kind one of the many unsafe things to put in your vagina, and stick to trying out different shades above the neck.
4. Oil-Based Lubricants
Lube is one of the fun things to put in your vag, but only certain varieties. You’ll want to steer clear of any that list oil or petroleum jelly on the ingredient label, says Minkin, as oil-based products are thicker and harder to wash out of your vagina, making it a breeding ground for bacteria. Plus, oil can break down latex, putting you at risk of an STD or pregnancy if your partner is wearing a latex condom. Use silicone-and water-based lubricants that contain no additives instead.
5. Douches and Intimate Sprays
Not only are douches, intimate sprays, and vaginal wipes totally unnecessary (the vaginal canal is self-cleansing; that’s what discharge is for), using them can boost your odds of infection. “They contain ingredients and chemicals that can dry out the vagina, cause irritation, and increase the risk of tiny tears in your vagina that bacteria and viruses can enter through,” says Minkin. Put all of the above on the list of things to never put in your vagina, and keep your ladybits clean with just gentle soap and water.
6. Whipped and Chocolate Toppings
Turning your naked body into an ice cream sundae sounds sexy, except for the fact that whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and other sweet toppings are loaded with sugar. What’s the big deal? Introducing sugar to your vaginal area can mess with your pH levels and lead to a yeast infection, says Minkin. Play it safe by making your body an above-the-belly-button sundae instead.
7. Hair Removal Cream
The chemicals often found in cream or lotion depilatories are harsh, resulting in tiny abrasions that leave your vaginal area open to infection, says Minkin. Another danger: Allergic reactions, which would leave you with red bumps and killer itching. Even though shaving or waxing tends to leave you with a slight rash or sensitivity for a day or so, both are safer than a chemical depilatory.
8. Body Art
Remember the vajazzling fad? So do ob-gyns, who noticed an uptick in infection and irritation rates among patients who had these small crystals or rhinestones affixed with glue to their totally bare private parts. Another decoration danger: a below-the-belt tattoo. Getting inked anywhere on your body can trigger redness and irritation, but bikini-area skin is so delicate that a tattoo here poses a bigger health risk, says Minkin. Even temporary tattoos contain dye that can inflame the vaginal area, so just say no.
9. Anything With a Scent
Repeat after us: Any household items that have a scent are not household items to put in your vag. The perfumes used to give scents to toilet paper, novelty condoms, tampons, even soaps and body washes contain additives that leave some women with itching, inflammation, and rashes on or around the vagina, says Minkin. “Not all women have problems with these, but it’s probably better to stay away from them than find out the hard way that they cause a bad reaction on your skin,” she says.
10. Vodka Tampons
We were hoping this was an urban myth, but apparently women insert alcohol-soaked tampons into their vaginas, says Minkin. The point is to get a buzz once the booze is absorbed into the bloodstream. Aside from the fact that this practice can be crazy painful, it can actually cause damage the vaginal walls, she says. Hard pass, and yet another item on the list of things to never put in your vagina.
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