This being 2020 and not 1992, we’re fortunately way past the point where people are buying douching products to “clean” their vaginas. (PSA: vaginas clean themselves!) But board-certified gynecologist Staci Tanouye, MD, says there are still a few things many spend their money on that are actually not-so great for the health of their bits.
Recently, Dr. Tanouye posted a TikTok highlighting three products she used to buy regularly until she became an OB/GYN: bath bombs, thongs, and panty liners. All super common and innocent-seeming, right? To find out more about how the trio could negatively affect vaginal health, I reached out to Dr. Tanouye directly for more info.
3 products to stop wasting your money on, according to an OB/GYN:
1. Bath bombs
Bath bombs may make your bubble bath smell amazing and help you sink deeper into relaxation, but Dr. Tanouye says that tranquility could quickly be replaced with a much less pleasant feeling: irritation. “Bath bombs and bubble baths have fragrances and elevated pHs that can greatly disrupt vaginal flora as well cause topical skin irritation on the vulva,” she says. That means they’re a double whammy: They can cause irritation on the outside and potentially kill the good bacteria living in your vaginal microbiome. If too much of this good bacteria is killed and a more harmful bacteria start moving in, it can lead to bacterial vaginosis, vaginitis, and other conditions.
But forgoing bath bombs and bubbles doesn’t mean you can’t add anything to your tub. “Unscented Epsom salts paired with a nicely scented candle is a better alternative for the bath,” Dr. Tanouye says.
Dr. Tanouye isn’t here to kill the thong song completely, but she does recommend people who are prone to getting bacterial infections dial it back. “Technically, there is no evidence or research to support that thongs are bad for your vaginal health,” she says. “However, avoidance of thongs is a common recommendation by many OB/GYNs when people start having difficulties with vaginal health for the theoretical concern that they could increase risk of bacterial transfer from back to front and therefore increase risk of infections,” she says. That means if you’re prone to urinary tract infections or yeast infections, you may want to go for a different underwear style.
Regardless of what kind of drawers you buy, Dr. Tanouye says what’s most important is to pay attention to what it’s made of. “The fabric of your underwear matters the most,” she says. Her advice is to avoid synthetic fabrics and choose all cotton. “The one exception would be specific exercise moisture-wicking fabrics that are breathable,” she adds.
3. Panty liners
If you like using panty liners right before your period as a literal blood barrier, Dr. Tanouye’s cool with that; she just doesn’t recommend using panty liners every day. “Panty liners should not be used on a daily basis because they are not breathable and trap moisture against the skin,” she says. “Not only do they increase risk of skin irritation, they also increase natural discharge as they make the vagina think it needs to clean more.”
So there you have it: three products that you can stop shelling out for, in the name of vaginal health. Now wait until you hear a gyno’s thoughts on masturbating with things other than sex toys…
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