This article was originally published on 14 October 2016.
- Talcum powder
Talcum powder (including baby powder) is seen as a safe way to freshen the vagina, but it has dangerous side effects. It can travel easily up along the genital tract and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can harm fertility. It is also proven to increase the risk of ovarian cancer by at least 30 per cent, and the risk increases the longer you use it. Other healthier and safer options for staying fresh and dry include wearing cotton underwear, wearing loose trousers and sleeping without underwear.
- Dry sex products
Objects such as powders, stones, douches (water) and herbal products are sometimes inserted into the vagina in order to suck out the natural moisture for dry sex. This practice is incredibly dangerous as it can cause small cuts inside the vagina which may in turn increase the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. Damages to cells can also causes blood vessels to leak and tissue to swell. The vagina is self-lubricating which means that it becomes naturally wet when aroused. Allowing it to go through this natural process is the best way to keep your vagina healthy and infection free.
Find out more here about dry sex, an African practise for pleasure.
- Scented products
Intimate sprays, tampons, wipes and lots of other products may be advertised as fresheners and anti-itch products. But they will do nothing to help your vagina. Some are made using benzocaine, which is a local anaesthetic that can cause allergic reactions.
The fact that they mask the odour of your vagina is also problematic as the smell of your vagina can tell you if you might have an infection or an STD. It is also important to know that the smell of your vagina will change during your cycle so don’t expect it to smell like flowers because it’s not supposed to. The only thing you need to freshen your vagina is some water and a clean piece of cloth.
- Temporary ink
Temporary tattoos down there are becoming a trend. Some spas are even offering airbrushed tattoos below the belt. However, these can accidentally rub off onto your labia and cause irritation and allergic reactions due to the thin skin down there. It’s recommended that any body art should be experimented with less sensitive parts of the body.
- Hair dyes
Dying your public hair a cool new colour may seem like an exciting change. Especially since salons have created special dyes for that purpose but they can still be dangerous. Like normal hair dyes, they are made up of chemicals, which may cause serious allergic reactions as well as intense burning, which could even stop you from having sex for a couple of weeks.
- Oil-based lubricants
Lubes can be great for your sex life but make sure you don’t go for any oil-based lubricants. Oil-based lubes are very difficult to wash off and can cause infections if they stay in your vagina for days at a stretch. Oil-based lube is also not great for practising safe sex as it can break down the latex in condoms which leaves you at risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). There are lots of other lubes to choose from but your safest bet is water-based without chemical colouring.
- Anything with a flat or concave bottom
Objects with a flat bottom like shampoo bottles, tubes and cans can be problematic as suction is created in the vagina which makes them difficult to pull out afterwards. Using slim objects or objects with a curve will make it easier to slide out.
- Anything sharp
Sharp objects or anything that can become sharp when broken (like hairbrushes or glass bottles) should not be anywhere near your vagina. Not only can they seriously damage your vagina, but suction can make it incredibly difficult and painful to remove.
Things you need to use cautiously around your vagina:
- Hair removal products
You may find that you prefer less pubic hair and want to use hair removal creams or waxing to achieve your preferred look. Although there are many creams and lotions especially created for the bikini area, it is important to test them on a small area first.
These products usually contain harsh chemicals such as calcium hydroxide, which could cause allergic reactions if you have sensitive skin. It’s best to test the different products on offer to find the one that suits you best.
- Vaginal jewellery
Vagina jewellery can be cute, but you should be aware of the glue that is used to affix the crystals onto your body parts, as it may cause irritation. Make sure to test the glue on a small area beforehand and opt for a different decorative method if your skin turns red and itchy.