We at Sh! like to think of ourselves as pretty open-minded and up-to-date in terms of contemporary feminism. Yet, the other day we were flicking through a magazine aimed at women only to discover an article discussing new trends and tips on weeding and watering your luscious lady-garden. Our eyes were opened to a world teeming with vulval* charcoal masks, vaginal douches and steaming, not to mention the endless number of apparently specialised soaps we should be using.
Whoever could have made a connection between vegetables or creased clothes and a human VAGINA had us puzzled.
So, we decided to do a little research ourselves on the subject. What we discovered was a plethora of products claiming to promote vaginal and vulval health for a sometimes-hefty fee but have actually been found to cause more harm than good.
Not only are these cleverly packaged products marketed to promote sales, but they do this through “vagina/vulva shaming” with products aimed at “detoxing” or freshening up our most intimate areas. “How dare they!?” our team cried in unison at this revelation (why do we need to be detoxed?).
These ideas are notions that we simply cannot accept. In response, we pledged to try and keep vaginas everywhere happy and healthy to the best of our brand’s ability.
Here are a few reasons why you should not be buying into any of these weird trends. *If you’d like to remind yourself of the distinctions between a vulva and a vagina, it essentially boils down to this – your vulva is the exterior and your vagina is the interior:
All these ideas about cleaning and modifying vaginas and vulvae implicitly lead us to believe that our natural anatomy is not good enough as it is. We are advised to steam our uterus’ with delectably-sounding plant-based products such as wormwood or mugwort.
This type of steaming, in particular, claims to solve all kinds of issues, from depression and fatigue to infertility and infections.
This, for the record, is not true and is no doubt a dangerous claim to make.
Vaginas are amazing powerhouses that can provide endless amounts of pleasure to their owners, push out actual babies of and above all, clean themselves. Since when have they ever needed steaming? If you only loved one part of your body, it should be your beautiful, strong and inspirational genitals.
This leads us on to the topic of douching. Many women who preach its benefits claim that it makes them feel “cleaner” downstairs. In actual fact, douching can lead to vaginal infections such as bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease and it has even been linked to cervical cancer.
Traditionally, douching is done using a mixture of water and vinegar. Yes – vinegar – although we are currently unsure which type is more appropriate? Red wine vinegar? Apple cider vinegar? How about a simple Malt if there’s any left over after you’ve finished your meal from the chippy?
We wonder if their appeal presents itself in the same way that your pilates instructor keeps luring you back for more bodily torture on a weekly basis with the tagline “Feel the burn!"
From scented sanitary towels, to perfumes, to odorous body washes and lotion, people are obsessed with the scent of vaginas – and changing them.
There’s a reason why they don’t already smell of fresh lavender or evening jasmine with the main reason being that you are not flora or fauna.
The douches that high street chemists and chains are selling feed off these attitudes. Their contemporary, chemical toolkit to wash your muffkin contains antiseptics and fragrances in a bottle or bag, which you then squat over and spritz up inside of your lower lips. What a magical experience this promises to be. Unsurprisingly, it is not.
The skin around your vulva is different to that of your body. In fact, it is actually much thinner than the skin on your face. Therefore, you are far more likely to cause irritation to it by dousing it in toxic agents that I bet you didn’t read up about when/if you checked the ingredients list on the back of the bottle.
Not only are you spraying it onto your exterior skin, but you are shooting it up inside of you where you have a lovely bunch of PH levels that are pleading with you to leave them undisturbed. And with that, we give you cystitis...
Similarly to the skin on the rest of our bodies, skin around the vulva can be prone to a range of skin conditions such as eczema, acne, psoriasis... and apparently wrinkles.
With this, a new product claiming to tackle these irritations has hit high street shelves – the infrared charcoal sheet mask. You essentially spread the moisturizing mask over your vulva and leave it on for fifteen minutes. This should apparently cool, soothe and ultimately eliminate said imperfections.
How could leaving a damp mask on possibly the most moist and sensitive, exterior region of your body ever sound like a bad idea?
Well, because, being damp over a period of time can lead to yeast infections and skin irritations. Plus, there is literally zero research that proves its effectiveness in this.
If you have any irritations or inflammations around your vulva, your first point of call should be a GP so you can find out exactly what it is and how to effectively treat it.
If you are worried about any aesthetic variances such as "vulva wrinkles” then why not take a look at Jamie McCartney’s Great Wall of Vagina?
His amazing work is body and sex-positive, and lets you look at genitals in their 3D glory. There are plenty of lumps, bumps and wrinkles on plenty of vulvae and if you find yourself being blessed enough to have them then you should worship every single one. We’re sure that you’ll find this a way more positive activity than listening to the whims of a greedy marketing executive (who probably doesn’t even have a vagina) trying to make you hate every last part of your body so that they can profit off you. Trust us, your holy mother of vagina will thank you for it!