The vagina is pretty complicated. It’s an internal muscular structure that’s self-cleaning, but many people, sensitive about the look and smell of their vulva and vagina, attempt to keep it ‘clean’ with harsh soaps, perfumes and douches. It may surprise you, but vaginal cleanliness depends way more on general health—a balanced diet, exercise and enough water—than on lotions and potions.
Even though the vagina is a complex organ, it's actually pretty simple and straightforward to care for it. As a general rule, if it’s designed to go in the vagina, like many body parts, toys, personal care and menstrual products, you're good to go.
Contrary to popular myth, it’s actually pretty difficult to get things stuck in your vagina. It has its limits—it culminates in the cervix, which has a very small opening, and the average vaginal depth is between 3-4 inches. So while it’s possible to get a tampon or other small objects ‘stuck’ in your vagina, there’s no chance it can travel to other places in your body. Nothing a quick trip to the doctor won't fix.
So lets get down to it—our Dos and Don'ts guide to happy, healthy vagina ownership...
DO PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE.
All you need to keep your vagina and vulva clean is a daily shower with plain water and unscented soap. Believe the hype!
DON’T STEAM YOUR VAGINA OVER AN HERB-FILLED TOILET.
We wish we were kidding. Vaginal steaming is one of the latest trends attempting to convince you that your vagina needs a custom herbal blend to stay clean. Hot steam can irritate or burn the delicate tissue around the vagina, and even if herbs are beneficial, it’s not physically possible for the vagina to ‘absorb’ them through vapor. This goes for wasp’s nests and detox pearls, too. If you're looking to soothe irritation after sex, your period, or just to treat yourself, Momotaro's tonic and salve are made with certified organic ingredients like Calendula, Goldenseal and Tea Tree Oil. Their products gently soothe irritation without disrupting the vaginas natural balance.
DO FEEL FREE TO PUT BODY-SAFE TOYS IN YOUR VAGINA.
Toys and kegel exercisers made of silicone, safe plastics, metal, glass and non-porous stone are best. We broke down what materials are body-safe in this post—you want to avoid cyberskin, jelly toys and anything with a strong chemical stink.
DON’T PUT HOUSEHOLD ITEMS IN YOUR VAGINA.
You've heard the joke "Anything is a sex toy if you're brave enough!" We were all young and desperate once, but we’re adults now, and there are plenty of amazing toys (at all price points) on the market. Household items like electric toothbrushes and hairbrushes (!!) might work in a pinch, but they aren’t body-safe toys.
DO FEEL FREE TO PUT PENISES/FINGERS/TONGUES IN YOUR VAGINA.
Our bodies are made to go together, so fingers, penises and mouths are all safe around the vagina. Just make sure you and your partners practice good hygiene, both before and after sex, and use condoms and dental dams responsibly. If you have a latex allergy there are alternatives, all of which are made to safely be used internally.
DON’T FORGET TO PEE.
Peeing after sex staves away possible infection by eliminating any bacteria pushed into the vagina by the penis or someone’s fingers. Maybe it goes without saying, but wipe front to back—the bacteria around your anus doesn’t belong in your vagina, and micro-abrasions that appear after sex make the vulval tissue especially prone to irritation and infection (ouch!).
DO USE LUBE.
Sex is safer and more comfortable with plenty of lube! Our faves are silicone-based Uberlube, or water-based Sliquid.
DON’T USE PERFUMED SOAPS OR DOUCHES.
The vagina is self-cleaning, and douches do more harm than good. Many people douche to improve the smell of their vagina, but in reality, douching can cause an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina, resulting in infections such as bacterial vaginosis, which will make the situation (and smell) much worse! Remember, your vagina doesn’t need help to stay clean—if something looks, feels or smells off, it’s time to see the gyno.
If you use bush oil or lotion, make sure it doesn’t get inside your vagina.
DO GET CREATIVE (RESPONSIBLY).
If you want to put anything unorthodox in there—say, a cucumber—it’s best to put a condom on it. We’re not saying you should put a cucumber in your vagina, but we know y'all like to get freaky—so if you must, wrap it up first! Foodstuffs are generally porous and even organic produce harbors bacteria and pesticides on the surface. Your digestive tract is up to the task of killing these bacteria, but the vagina is a different story.
Maybe this goes without saying, but it’s unwise to put anything in your vagina that has a rough or sharp surface. The vagina has a rich blood supply, so even the tiniest nicks can bleed profusely.
DON’T PUT POPSICLES IN YOUR VAGINA.
We’re looking at you, "women’s" magazines—no matter what you read in Cosmo, you shouldn’t put anything containing sugar in your vagina. It’s a one-way ticket to a yeast infection. If you’re into temperature play, try sucking on an ice cube and then going down on your partner, or cooling a glass or stone toy before use.
DO FEEL FREE TO ENJOY BOTH VAGINAL AND ANAL STIMULATION...BUT DON’T FORGET TO CLEAN YOUR TOYS!
Anything that’s been in a butt absolutely must be cleaned before going in a vagina. We recommend using toys with condoms, for easy back and forth play.
This is by no means a comprehensive guide, just a list of common-sense tips. Your gynecologist is your best friend when it comes to vagina care!