I swear there is a random vaginal product generator and people just spin the wheel to discover what shit they can insert today. Which brings me to Vicks VapoRub. In the vagina and on the vulva.

Oh my GOD.

Before we get to the science, such as it is, let’s talk about the smell. Your grandmother’s house. A sick-bed. Moth balls. That is the smell of Vicks VapoRub and if that makes anyone think sexy time or refreshing then I can think of nothing to say but what the actual fuck?

For what I am sure is the 100th time the vagina needs no cleaning and the vulva needs very little. I know the array of useless feminine washes and wipes at the drugstore and the drivel spouted by Gwyneth Paltrow via GOOP imply otherwise, but I’m the actual expert.

What is in Vick’s VapoRub? OK I had to look. I was pretty right on with the smell it has camphor, menthol, nutmeg oil, thymol, eucalyptus oil, turpentine oil and cedar leaf oil.

Contact dermatitis from Vicks’ isn’t common, but has been described. Turpentine oil, eucalyptus oil, camphor oil and cedar leaf oil are known skin irritants and sensitizers so there is that.

Camphor, turpentine oil, and menthol can be counter irritants. For example the cooling sensation of menthol on the skin can reduce itch. Counter irritants often produce unpleasant sensations, basically you are replacing one unpleasant sensation with another one that is less unpleasant. A normal vagina or vulva should have no unpleasant sensations. It is not uncommon to see vaginal reactions to counter irritants placed on the vulva as the mucosa (inside the vagina) is more sensitive to irritants. It is very hard to apply something on the vulva and have it not seep into the vagina.

At this point I wonder if people are just saying they are doing weird vagina stuff to be Instagram famous for 30 seconds and get an interview in the Daily Mail something along the lines of, “Doctor rages about harms of vaginal Vicks VapoRub but this gal says it leaves her bits tingly fresh.”

I once dated a guy who insinuated my vagina did not smell right. He was an ass in other ways too, but I just didn’t see it until he impugned my vagina. For example, he though my hair would be better if it were straight. Sadly I took the bait, it wasn’t. He thought I would look better if I dressed a certain way. Again I took the bait. I just felt worse. When it came around to telling me how my vagina could be better it finally clicked that this is a form of control that men often use. Fortunately I am an appropriately confident vagina expert and I had a light bulb moment and dumped his sorry ass. I realize this may border on TMI, but honestly if it happened to me I bet it has happened to other women. The continued proliferation of the what will they insert next, the products on drug store shelves, and the interest in these posts tells me that I’m probably right.

If you think you have a medical condition, see a doctor. If your partner insinuates that an artificial smell is preferable to the smell of a normal vagina they are the one who has an issue. Telling women how they can be better is a classic way of tapping into body image issues and honestly in my personal opinion it is a form of abuse.




Apparently this is becoming quite a triggering post for the #notallmen movement.

Bethany Black made this great point on Twitter, “Hey, guys, “The patriarchy” isn’t you. It’s what makes you feel the need to point out it’s not you.”

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65 replies on “Vaginal Vicks VapoRub, oh my God people just don’t”

  1. Back in the 50’s, Lysol disinfectant was advertised as being useful for “femenine cleansing”…. I can’t even imagine!! 😱🤯

  2. Doc you’re great and your readers aren’t half-bad either. Tiger balm and a dremel. What a hoot.

  3. Oh. My. Goodness. As a child, Vicks VapoRub felt like it was going to burn the skin off my chest the first and only time it was applied. Whilst my skin is more sensitive than most people’s, I cannot imagine why anyone would risk putting Vicks on one of the most sensitive parts of their body. How could it not result in screaming?

    1. That’s where I’m at … The tingly feeling … Never even crossed our minds there could be any other issues … Just for fun … 👋

  4. A man who mentioned using Vicks Vapor rub for a vagina to a woman needs to take a hike! The woman would be appropriate in offering her anus for the man to lick. The nan thinking the vagina smells bad should smell the other side or smell his own anus. WTF

    1. Hey Tim, thanks for commenting. I do find it somewhat odd that phrase stuck with you in a negative way. Perhaps you don’t know that an OB/GYN treats women and as such I ask women about their sex lives. Like a lot of women. More women than you will ever meet. Ya know what? I hear my life experiences mirrored back to me. Many men try to control women by telling them how they could be better or do better, some by making suggestions or “helpful hints” that tap into body image issues and other by boldly questioning their truth. Kind of like you are doing now.

      If all you can say after reading this is #notallmen then you didn’t understand it at all. Or perhaps it touched a nerve. Hard to know.

      At this point you are at a fork in the road. You can think, “What a bitch.” and happily skip along your path of not believing women when they share their experiences or think, “Wow, I never thought about it that way. I think I will try to do better.”

      1. I know full well that that many men do try to control women in this way. I’ve seen it so many times. But I don’t know that this is a gender specific trait. There are plenty of men who are controlled in relationships by women who use similar strategies. If there is a difference between the two it is that women seem to hide it and men are often harassed by other men when it is discovered (p-whipped, etc.) even if the male target feels trapped.

        My point isn’t to try to assign relative levels of blame by gender. It is simply this. No matter which gender it comes from, it is hurtful and damaging behavior to the person on the other end of it. It is one of the long list of abusive and bullying behaviors endemic in society that we need to combat for the good of everyone.

        Thank you for what you do to debunk myth and spread truth.

      2. Hi Jen It’s disappointing to read you double-down on your offensive, gross mischaracterization of an entire classification of people based on gender. It’s ok to admit that you made an insulting mistake, thank the person for making you aware of your prejudicial attititudes and then use this lesson as you move forward. I’m not sure why you are so defensive but ‘pride before the fall’ comes to mind. Best of luck in the future, hopefully you are now thinking that you ‘will try to do better’ but I’m not hopeful.

  5. Wow … mind boggling where these ideas come from. You might be right a “random vaginal product generator” is out there, kind of makes me wonder if someone isn’t posting this shit just to get your attention. I haven’t been following you that long, but it seems every couple of weeks there is a new “just don’t” post. This one seems especially painful and pointless.

  6. Another great post! One thought I had as I read it…

    …I’m not sure how many people know what a healthy vagina should smell like, or what sorts of aromas may be indicative of a potential issue (e.g. BV). It may be useful for your readers to do a post on that – I did a quick search and didn’t find anything on your site on that topic.

  7. It’s been going on for years. Many years ago, at an antenatal appointment, the doctor commented he could smell TCP (strong antiseptic solution). I explained I had been cleaning the garage earlier and so the whiff was on my clothes. He told me he felt he had needed to check because some women clean ‘down there’ with this stuff!

  8. Dear Jen,
    In my desire to have a fantastic relationship with my wife, I’m considering rubbing my penis down with a light grit sandpaper. The outer layer of skin is dead, right? So why not get right in there and get down to the sensitive skin where we can really maximize pleasure and sensation! Right?
    Now, if we combine this with the use of Vicks on my wife’s vagina…do you think there might be some sort of magical synergy going on there?
    Please advise.

    Thank you,

    1. I’d suggest gags for both of you. Unless deafening, blood curdling, screaming, from start to end makes the mood for y’all.

    2. I’d suggest adding Tiger Balm to the mix. It will certainly be a balm to my soul as your shrieks of “It’s burning” will make me laugh, because you did it knowing ahead of time what it feels like.

      1. The Dremel with the pointy tip, so you can get inside the really small spaces and grind them deep down……….

  9. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy your lessons – intellectually inspiring messages and informative news —

    Laughter is inner jogging and good for the soul – and even better when based on the truth

    Thank you

    Amy Rose Oliver

  10. I had Vicks rubbed on my chest a long time ago (and certainly before your time, Dr Jen). It’s quite soothing for the nose and chest if you have a cold or flu; that’s what it’s designed for.

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