Maintaining good vaginal health is critical for women of all ages. Not only can the state of your vagina impact your reproductive potential, but it can also make or break your natural defenses against infections. It's important to start young and to be informed when it comes to taking care of your reproductive organs.
That being said, here are ten of the most common myths about caring for your vagina and why they aren't accurate:
1. "Douche regularly to keep your vagina clean, healthy, and smelling fresh"
FALSE. The dangers of using a douche on your lady parts far exceed the so-called "benefits." A lot of women are led to believe that douching regularly can prevent STDs, prevent odor, and even prevent pregnancy. In reality, douches are extremely unsafe due to how they throw your natural vaginal flora (microorganisms that live in the vagina and maintain a healthy pH balance) out of wack. Douches rid your body of the good bacteria that exists in balance with the bad bacteria, which then can cause yeast infections, irritation, bacterial vaginosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease. So, yeah…no thanks.
REMEMBER: Your vagina naturally produces mucous to cleanse itself of blood, semen, and discharge. Just because you notice a mild odor down there DOES NOT mean you aren't clean— quite the contrary, this scent almost always indicates a healthy vagina.
2. "You can take vitamins to tighten your vagina"
This isn't true in the slightest. Khloé Kardashian claims that oral Vitamin E supplements taken daily can tighten the vaginal lining, but there's no scientific evidence to support this claim. Your vaginal lining isn't even a muscle that's capable of being strengthened, so there's no way that this could work.
Vitamin E oil, however, while it does not strengthen the lining, can moisturize your vagina if you suffer from excessive dryness. It increases lubrication if you cannot naturally produce enough to be comfortable. BUT you should NOT use pure extract, as that might cause you even more pain and further damage your mucous membranes.
3. "Pineapple juice will make your vagina smell fruity and delicious"
Oh, if only this were true. Another blunder by another Kardashian— Kim, this time— influenced some fans to believe that drinking pineapple juice will sweeten your vaginal fluids and add a fruity fragrance. But there is no scientific evidence backing the claim that pineapple or any other foods have the ability to enhance a woman's natural taste and scent.
While this is not definitely confirmed yet, women have reported an added sweetness after incorporating more water and fruits into their diet. The sugars in the fruit they eat can, over time, possibly introduce a hint of fruitiness to their natural juices. "You are what you eat" can ring true, but only after weeks and months of eating differently would a woman really notice a change, if any.
4. "You should tan your vagina so it can get Vitamin D"
WRONG. All sunbathing bottomless will do is make your sensitive lady bits, which have never seen sun before, more likely to burn to a dangerous extent. As you've probably noticed before, your vagina is very sensitive to even slight stimuli, so an hour's worth of UV rays is sure to do some damage.
You can get the SAME Vitamin D benefits by taking oral supplements—and the only difference with the pill versus some sunshine is that you won't put yourself at risk for melanoma if you take the vitamins every day.
5. "You should get a Brazilian wax treatment to get rid of all your pubic hair"
Probably not. While these treatments do strip your genitals of all of that pesky hair, they can cause a great deal of harm in the aftermath. For one thing, some salons aren't as health-conscious as they should be; their negligent practices and laziness when it comes to sterilizing their equipment can end up seriously hurting you. Also, those bothersome ingrown hairs that you get with shaving are multiplied by ten when you decide to wax instead. And waxing your vagina can expose you to skin infections and worsen existing conditions, too. Don't forget that the violent tearing of wax from your skin can also potentially take your skin off with it.
And that is definitely not sexy.
6. "Eat or apply yogurt to prevent or cure yeast infections"
Hmmm, nope. Unfortunately, this holistic remedy is no more than temporary relief. While yogurt can soothe the itching and burning associated with these infections, it merely eases the symptoms— it does NOT get rid of them.
Keep in mind also that yeast thrives off of sugar, so if you're going to use yogurt in addition to treatment, make sure it's plain, natural, and unsweetened so you don't add to the infection.
7. "If you have discharge, that must mean you have an infection"
Not true! Vaginal discharge that is odorless and colored clear or white is perfectly normal and very common in a lot of women. A woman's vagina will naturally produce up to 1 teaspoon of discharge daily as part of its self-cleansing and self-lubrication routine.
You might even notice a slight increase in discharge if you're gearing up for your period— and that's okay. As long as your discharge isn't discolored and isn't accompanied by a strong, offensive odor, you're good to go.
8. "Your vagina will become loose if you frequently have sex"
This is probably the biggest vagina myth of all time. Guys and girls, no longer should you believe that a vagina's elasticity reflects that woman's sexual habits. Vaginas instinctively contract and expand to accommodate any inserted fingers, toys, and penises. Arousal will cause the muscular tissue to relax enough that insertion is relatively easy and painless. And when a woman is disinterested in sex, that's when her vagina will feel tighter.
Your vagina will not lose its ability to expand and contract just because you've had a lot of sex.
9. "You can't use tampons if you have an IUD"
Negative. Just because you had an intrauterine device inserted does not mean you can no longer use tampons during your period. The IUD's strings are near your cervix, while the tampon string is much closer to the outside of your vagina. Therefore, you can safely insert and remove a tampon without even coming into contact with your IUD. Just make sure you're aware of where your IUD strings are so you don't accidentally pull them out when you reach for your tampon.
10. "Only vagina-specific soap will get you clean"
Nope! A mild, unscented soap is ideal for the exterior, while just plain old water is best for the inside of your vagina. If you are extremely sensitive down there, however, you can't go wrong with an intimate wash that's gentle and pH-balanced such as "RepHresh."
For more information about how you can ensure that your vagina stays healthy and clean, don't be afraid to do some researching of your own. Or consider contacting your physician or OB-GYN with any questions you're not sure how to ask. Although you might feel embarrassed, remember that at least one other woman (and definitely many more, really) has wondered about exactly what's on your mind once before.