How to Detox Your Vagina

Many new detox trends are popping up on social media, from jade eggs and yoni pearls to douching and V-steaming. However, gynecologists say these techniques are unnecessary and could be dangerous.

Our vulvae naturally cleanse themselves by maintaining the right pH balance and through natural secretions, says Kecia Gaither, OB-GYN and maternal-fetal medicine specialist. Interfering with this can cause irritation.

Vaginal Pearls

A popular detox product, yoni pearls are small balls of herbs that claim to cleanse the vagina, prevent infections, treat fibroids, and help with other gynecological ailments. They’re typically marketed with phrases like “expelling fluid build-ups,” “removes blockage,” and “reduces yeast,” among other promises.

However, there’s zero research or data to support these claims, and they can actually be dangerous. Leaving yoni pearls inside the body for too long increases your risk of toxic shock syndrome, a life-threatening bacterial infection. And the herbs in yoni pearls, which are often infused with fragrance or chemicals, may irritate your delicate vulva tissue.

The main herbs in yoni pearls are motherwort, peach kernel, borneol, and osthol, all of which can irritate the skin of your vulva. They’re also not suitable for everyone, especially those with a sensitive vagina, or those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Women should be encouraged to love and accept their bodies, but they shouldn’t be sold products that aren’t scientifically backed or safe. Instead, if you want to try something different for your vulva, speak to a gynecologist. They’ll be able to talk you through your options and provide actual, medically backed treatment. The bottom line: Your vulva cleans itself (gynecologists call it a self-cleaning oven) and doesn’t need any products to do it. But if you do decide to go with it, keep the pearls in for as little time as possible to minimize your risk of complications.

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Feminine Sprays

Many girls use scented feminine hygiene sprays to eliminate vaginal odor and keep the area fresh. However, these products are filled with chemicals and strong fragrances that can irritate the sensitive vulva area. The scents from these feminine care products can also be absorbed through the skin and cause long-term harm.

Some of these feminine hygiene sprays contain eucalyptus oil, which can irritate the vulva and create a burning sensation. They also may contain alcohol, which can dry out the area. This can lead to cracks and sores. These products can also block the pores and irritate the skin, which can lead to yeast infections. Some of these products may also contain triclosan, a chemical that is used to kill bacteria and can also cause an allergic reaction in some people.

The vulva naturally produces a mild, healthy odor and it is important to keep it clean. However, most women do not need to use soaps, washes, douches, or feminine hygiene sprays to maintain the area. These products can irritate the vulva and make it uncomfortable to wear underwear or swimsuits. They can also interfere with the natural bacterial balance in the vulva that is necessary for good health and odor control.

Instead of using feminine hygiene deodorant sprays, women should try to maintain a healthy pH balance in the vulva by showering or bathing daily with gentle soap and warm water. In addition, they should avoid douching or scrubbing the vulva area with washcloths and other toiletry items that can be irritating.

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Feminine Powders

As women, we are often told that the vagina needs to be rejuvenated, cleansed and detoxified. A quick run through social media turns up a host of products, mixtures and recipes – including perfumed vulva sticks, herbal vaginal “pearls” and douches and glittery passion dust – that claim to do just that. But are these new practices and products doing more harm than good?

Many of these items are causing damage to body tissues, particularly the vaginal wall. A healthy vagina has a specific pH that helps to protect against bacteria, and introducing chemicals like soaps, disinfectants, hot water or steam, infused powders and other products into this delicate area can disrupt the natural eco-system and lead to infection, yeast growth, thrush and a variety of other symptoms.

In fact, the talcum powder many of us use to keep our underwear fresh and dry has been linked to cancer, ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids. Fortunately, it’s easy to make your own gentle dusting powder at home using common kitchen ingredients. Baking soda, for example, is naturally absorbent and a great alternative to talcum powder. Combine it with rice powder, tapioca starch or cornstarch for a natural, fragrance-free dusting powder that soothes, reduces perspiration and keeps rashes at bay.

Douching with vinegar or a commercial douche may also disturb the vaginal pH and lead to inflammation, while douching with hot water or a commercial product could cause burns. Instead, gently washing with warm water, using a natural feminine wash that doesn’t contain sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) and changing your underwear regularly to allow for air circulation will keep the vulva clean, smooth and healthy.

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Foods to Avoid

You might think that the vagina needs a special detox to get clean, but the truth is that the body naturally cleanses it by producing discharge. The discharge has a specific pH and healthy bacteria, which helps protect the vagina against unhealthy bacteria and infections, Kecia Gaither, MD, OB-GYN and maternal-fetal medicine specialist at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln, tells SELF. “Attempting to clean the vulva by putting in yoni pearls or powders is going to kill off all of the good bacteria, which can lead to yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis,” she says.

Douching also throws off the delicate balance of the vulva’s pH and can cause irritation. Instead of doing a vaginal detox, experts recommend eating foods that are helpful for the body, like cranberry juice for UTIs and yogurt for probiotics.

Avoiding fatty and sugary foods is key to maintaining vaginal health, too. “Foods that are high in sugar promote yeast infection, and fatty foods can cause inflammation throughout the body,” Nanavati says. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Dehydration is bad for everything, including the vulva. “Skipping water can decrease the amount of lubrication in the vagina, and that makes for uncomfortable periods and sex,” Nanavati notes.

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