Dr. Jen Gunter

Don’t put ground up wasp nest in your vagina

Sometimes to distract myself from the hot mess in the White House I Google unusual vaginal therapies and today’s BINGO comes from that gynecological gem that is Etsy, purveyor of not only vaginal herb balls but also of balls of wasp detritus and bark meant for the vagina.


What, you ask, are oak galls? Well my friend they are balls of bark and wasp excreta that once nurtured a wasp larva (so I suppose there may also be wasp larval residue, not sure what that might be but an image of saliva dripping from the Alien Queen comes to mind).

Oak galls grow when a gall wasp punctures an oak tree and deposits larva. This process is apparently quite an irritant for the tree, which secretes tannic and gallic acids that creating a round formation known as a gall nut or an oak apple. The hole (see image above) is where the wasplette drilled its way to freedom. The image below has the larvae intact.



I’m not one to turn my nose up at bark, after all salicylate-rich plants have been used for centuries for pain and fever and led us to Aspirin and paclitaxel (a chemotherapy drug) comes from the bark of the Pacific yew tree, however, astringents especially untested ones don’t go in the vagina. This is what the seller on Etsy claims:

This product follows the same dangerous pathway of other “traditional” vaginal practices, meaning tightening and drying the vagina which is both medically and sexually (for women anyway) undesirable. Drying the vaginal mucosa increases the risk of abrasions during sex (not good) and destroys the protective mucous layer (not good). It could also wreak havoc with the good bacteria. In addition to causing pain during sex it can increase the risk of HIV transmission. This is a dangerous practice with real potential to harm. Here’s a pro-tip, if something burns when you apply it to the vagina it is generally bad for the vagina.

GYNO Etsy seems all about dry tight vaginas. I’m thinking they should back away from the medicinal products, you know? It’s promoting a both a bad sexual ideal, that something must be wrong if your vagina is damp, and a dangerous practice. While many women won’t buy this product it’s just one more bullshit message about vaginal health. It’s no wonder there are so many useless and/or harmful products on drugstore shelves designed to dry and clean vulvas and vaginas.

So don’t put dried up wasp’s nest in your vagina. I feel pretty confident in offering that up as medical advice and for goodness sake don’t tell Paltrow. She let bees sting her face so she might be all over vaginal vespatherapy.