Serious Question: What's the Deal With Vaginal Hygiene?

Hallie Gould
PHOTO:

Thinx

One brisk walk down a drugstore aisle and you're inundated with hundreds of pastel-colored products promising to cleanse, fix, or scent your vagina. Along with the (somewhat offensive and gender-normative) floral patterns, pink imagery, and high sales tax, every product's description is vague and saturated with mixed messaging. Is your vagina supposed to smell like peonies? Is it abnormal if it doesn't? What does the first ingredient in this product do, and why is it 15 letters long? Are we supposed to put a chemical inside our bodies that we can't even pronounce? There are so many questions, and just about zero of them can be answered in that same drugstore aisle.

For as long as I can remember, I've been told by my doctors and the internet that your vagina is self-cleaning and that you don't need a product to help it do its job. But, now, there are a ton of all-natural, wellness, pH-balancing brands popping up promising that they'll help solve all your vaginal issues. And while I'm thrilled vaginas and women's sexual health has become a more mainstream conversation, it's still like white noise: confusing, disorienting, and without resolution. "Up until now, maintaining good feminine health hasn't been a straightforward endeavor due to a lack of resources available—from educational materials to clean, natural products formulated to address a woman's unique biology," says Lo Bosworth, who launched her own natural feminine care brand earlier this year.

So what's the answer? I want to achieve better control over my body and health. Am I supposed to use vaginal hygiene products or not? If they're made from natural ingredients, are they safe? I posed that very question (along with a few others) to Jaime Knopman and Sheeva Talebian, fertility experts and co-founders of truly-md.com, to hear what they had to say. Below, we go into detail.

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