It seemed as if the medical Internets of 2017 was as the mercy of a random vagina-woo generator. No sooner had I written an impassioned plea about why substance X shouldn’t go into the vagina I was getting tweets and Facebook messages about object Y.

I blame Gwyneth Paltrow. I mean why not, but if we are going to strive for accuracy (which I always do) it does seem that GP birthed this vaginal lunacy trend by treating us to vaginal jade eggs in January of 2017. While GP breathlessly claimed that when she finds “something that works” she wants to share it she couldn’t answer any question about the “practice” of jade eggs when Jimmy Kimmel inquired. Imagine claiming that bringing good health to people is your mission, your full-time job no less, and then when you are asked a question about something you have both endorsed and sold you answer with a big who-the-fuck-knows, a simpering smile and a juvenile giggle?

In total I warned you not to put seven things in the vagina (I know, it does seem like more), so here is a recap in order of least destructive to most damaging.

7) Scandinavian vaginal highlighter

This is clearly meant for the vulva, but vaginas apparently move more product than vulvas and when you make a cream that is all about shaming women about normal external genitalia you probably don’t fucking much care about anatomical accuracy. A cream meant to lighten the labia is aimed squarely at women who have been told they are “too gross” by assholes they may have dated or who have inferred their vulvas are somehow lacking from the terrible messages spewed by Instagram “celebrities” and the magazines and celebrity sites only to eager to spout the latest 10-step Kardashian vagina prep routine. As this product claims it can brighten the appearance of the skin is could have a depigmentation agent which has a real potential to cause irritation. Stay clear. Your vulva is perfect as is.

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6) Vaginal cucumber scrub

Yes, peeling a cucumber and rooting up around in there to do something quasi medicinal and impart some kind of natural but artificial freshness to the vagina. Aside from the mental wear and tear of the harmful your-vagina-is-dirty trope, the biggest risk with a peeled cucumber is an abrasion or a bit that breaks off and becomes fertilizer for pathogenic (bad) bacteria. The possibility of self-inoculation with a plant mold or soil bacteria is also real.

A healthy vaginal should smell like a healthy vagina not a cucumber. If you find the idea of a vegetable in or around your vagina intriguing they do make vibrators…


5) Vicks VapoRub

I know, nothing says the smell of a healthy vaginal more than the aroma of a sick-bed! Ah, that special blend of camphor, eucalyptus oil, methol, cedarleaf oil, nutmeg oil, petrolatum, thymol and turpentine oil. Let’s get real for a minute. Thinking a vagina should smell like this is seriously fucked up. There, I said it.

Keep in mind that many of these ingredients are irritants and sensitizers and are most definitely NOT for mucosal surfaces. I think the irritation alone would prevent anyone from actually using it. Here’s hoping no one ever tries.

4) Vaginal glitter

Yes, some woman who has no medical training sells cosmetic grade glitter to put in your vagina. This is plastic. Small little bits of plastic. Can bacteria adhere to it? Who knows? Could it injure the vaginal walls? Who knows? If you get an abrasion could it become a nasty granuloma (inflammatory reaction to imbedded foreign material)? Probably! I’ve seen many vaginal granulomas from bits of plastic and other materials left behind. But hey, a lady with no medical training says you should use it.

Vaginas don’t need glitter because they ARE the party. I want a shirt that says that.

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3) Jade Eggs

I know, they’re not #1 on the 2017 Gunter vaginal-toxicity scale. Sad face. However, they are still porous as they will have micro-fractures where bacteria can hide and an adequate and safe cleaning method has yet to be studied. In addition, the acidic pH of the vagina (around 4.2) could etch the surface over time leaving more nooks and crannies for bacteria!

Bacteria and the risk of toxic shock syndrome aside there is the jade eggthusiast’s recommendation to wear them at night (just stupid as pelvic floor weights require you to be awake to engage your pelvic floor muscles), the idea that jade can balance hormones (i.e. they are able to perform magic), and the bragging about wearing them around all day, which displays a stunning level of ignorance about the pelvic floor.

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2) Makeup sponges

A reporter tried to make using makeup sponges as a “tampon hack” a legitimate thing. I called her on it as women are actually doing this and it is sending them to the emergency department. I had a friend who is an emergency room (ER) doctor take a short informal survey and many of her colleagues have seen women with retained makeup sponges in the vagina. Vaginally retained makeup sponges also ended up on the list of what sent people to the ER courtesy of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s database. Keep in mind these sponges are made of the same polyester foam that was used to make Rely tampons, the tampons that had the greatest association with menstrual toxic shock syndrome (mTSS). Using a key ingredient from the tampons that were pulled from the market for mTSS as a tampon just seems like a really, really, really bad idea.

1) Wasp Galls

These are balls of bark, wasp excreta, and wasp saliva that once nurtured wasp larvae and someone on GYNO Etsy wants you to grind them up and put them in your vagina. Do I have to write any more or are you cringing enough?

These have tannic acid and gallic acid which are likely to irritate and damage the mucous in the vagina as well as the vaginal lining leading to erosions. They may also have unknown debris (NOT A REASSURING INGREDIENT) and who knows what kind of bacteria or fungus they could contain that might be just fine for baby wasps but not for vaginas.

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I hope 2017 brought us peak vaginal woo, but in case it hasn’t rest assured I will be smacking down whatever vaginal mayhem 2018 brings.

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  1. Dear Dr. Gunter: this is an awkward question for me as I embarrass easily, but you’re clearly the person to answer it. I follow your blog because you make clear scientific arguments and, though I don’t have a vagina, but my partner does and I believe knowing about health and each other is essential in a relationship.

    I’m a geologist, and admin a facebook page about geology. Another geologist wanted to post this tumblr link but it may be outside the guidelines for our page (decision pending). I thought you might be interested that there are other things besides Jade eggs, and to find out if a Malachite – object – would be as potentially harmful as described. The argument being that malachite is an impure copper carbonate and a vaginal environment may cause solution of enough free copper ions that could adversely affect vaginal flora. Malachite “eggs” are also pretty common so it would be useful for your followers to know if it were more harmful that a jade egg, which is essentially an insoluble silicate.


  2. I know the Ancient Egyptians used dried crocodile dung as a barrier contraceptive. And if they did it, it must be healthy because they are Ancient and Wise. Maybe I should start a business selling dried crocodile dung?

  3. The fact that you have to say, “Don’t put this into your vagina” makes it sound like you’re talking to five year olds. The wasp gall is the one that really got me. Just…why? I used to say there were only three things I’d ever allow in there (this was back when I was undiagnosed with my current issues, but knew something was wrong so going to gyno was out of the question), and they’re fairly obvious so I don’t need to be crude lol.

  4. Here is another thing you probably shouldn’t put in your vagina! I know this because I’m the person who left the really long review. I was in hellish pain and desperate, and since I was already using a TENS machine for pain relief on my gynaecologist’s advice, thought this was similarly legit. Could you write about this?

  5. When did vaginas become competitive? Although I am older and married, I don’t recall any guys (including me) choosing a women based on how snazzy her vagina was. What next, a dating site where women post pix of their vaginas so guys know how to choose a fine women? I guess if a guy is sleeping with several different women a week , it’s a bonus to come accross an award winning cuder. I think most of us (guys) are content if there’s one around that loves us. Maybe I’m old fashioned. I’m not even sure how I got to this site, but I guess now I’m up to date on the latest and greatest…..ah..weirdness? I’m sure there’s guys customizing their junk somehow or another, but I’m fine with “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Sorry, I’ll stay off this site, but a comment was hard to resist. Take careful care of yourselves.

    1. Stay the wonderful person that you are and if you reproduce, please pass along your beautyful mentality! *high five*

  6. I laughed a bitter laugh at the Vicks Vapo-rub. Several years ago, I was experiencing a really horrible itch. Nothing OTC that I tried did a damn thing for it. Went to the doctor and she gave me a script for a lotion that did a great job (steroid & something…) Several months later, the itch came back. I phoned to see if I could get another script for the lotion that had worked before. Nurse called me back & told me that the doctor said no script, to just use Sarna lotion. I’d never heard of it, so I went to the pharmacy inside our local Walmart*. Assuming that it would be with other feminine hygiene stuff, I looked there. Couldn’t find it. Young female pharmacist notices me searching around and comes to ask me if she can help me find anything. I tell her what I’m looking for (still looking at all of the feminine hygiene stuff…) and she gives me a puzzled look. Asks me what I want it for, so I explain. She looks horrified, takes me to where it is and says, “Maybe your doctor didn’t understand where the itch is, because I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to use this there” as she points out that the “active ingredients” of Sarna Lotion are menthol and camphor. We call my doctor to clarify and she insisted that that was her recommendation. I blurted out, “Would you use this on yourself?” She replied, “That is the standard treatment.” Never went back to her and I definitely didn’t try it.

    *It’s a small town — I wouldn’t, if I didn’t have to.

  7. I assume these are the same galls that for centuries have been ground down and used to make the permanent black ink which the contents of all official documents are recorded?

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