A comprehensive guide to pampering your pus in these trying times.
I don't know about you, but all this anti-vagina legislation is making my pussy tired af. Yes, I do know that my clitoris doesn't have an actual brain, but those nerve endings are exhausted. What's a vagina-haver to do? Yoni-centered self care had a minute of Goop-induced fame a few years back years back — and while their whole unscientific vaginal jade egg push backfired, there is something to be said for bringing back vaginal pampering. Loving your vag obviously isn’t going to change the hearts and minds of the people who want to steal our bodily autonomy, but it might feel good — and that’s important. So, I asked experts how to soothe our contested genitals.
Less is more.
First things first: You don’t actually need to do anything to make your vagina a better place. One of the many, many glorious things about vaginas is that they basically take care of themselves. “When it comes to vaginal self-care, less is more,” Emily Von Bargen, a urogynecologist and professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School tells me. “Your vagina itself is actually a totally self-cleaning system. The best thing you can do to care for it is mostly to let it do its own thing.”
Every expert I spoke with agreed on this point. The easiest thing you can do to keep your vagina healthy is avoid soap that contains artificial coloring or perfume — these can upset your vaginal flora — and stay away from certain lubricants. “Lubricants that contain harsh chemicals such as glycerin, phthalates, and propylene glycol should be avoided, as these ingredients can cause irritation and other possible side effects,” Karyn Eilber, a Los Angeles-based urogynecologist, tells me, adding that thick oils and petroleum jelly should also not be used as lubricants, as they aren’t cleared easily by the vagina.
In other words, pampering your pus isn’t about slathering it with a bunch of products. For most of us, spoiling our vaginas probably means staying away from irritants rather than doing more.
Just say no to “vaginal facials.”
Like much of my generation, I have an elaborate skincare routine, and I’m borderline obsessed with best practices for getting a healthy glow. Lately, it feels like the market has been flooded with vaginal skincare products, including a slew of masks and serums supposedly designed to spoil your vag. But experts say you should be careful before buying into the hype.
“Pampering your vagina is a little different from pampering other parts of your body,” Von Bargen says. “While a spa day might do wonders for the skin on your face, vaginal treatments like steaming and ‘vajacials’ can do more harm than good.” Introducing anything to your vulva or vaginal area — steam, lotions, soaps, or objects — can negatively impact your vaginal microbiome by irritating the delicate skin, killing off good bacteria, or introducing new bacteria that can kick-start vaginal and urinary tract infections, Von Bargen explains, adding that’s pretty much the opposite of self-care.
Don’t put any beauty products inside your vagina. Full stop.
We’ve pretty much all been raised under the patriarchy, with the idea that vaginas should look like flowers and smell like sunshine. That’s not real. But even if you love the diverse reality of vaginas, it can be tempting to succumb to the multitudes of douches and suppositories that promise to make your pussy smell divine. Don’t. In fact, every expert I spoke with agreed that you shouldn’t put any beauty products in your vagina at all.
“If you're looking to vaginal steaming, douching, or any kind of vaginal self-care because you think your vagina is smelly or you're self-conscious about the way it looks, you're not alone,” Von Bargen says. “Rest assured, vaginas come in endless shapes, sizes, and scents. Vaginal scents from irony and meaty, to mild and sweet are totally normal.” Vaginas aren't supposed to smell like flowers, she emphasizes, so stick to au naturel. In fact, the smell of real, organic pussy is actually a priceless perfume — hence the latest TikTok beauty trend, “vabbing.”
But what about natural-seeming suppositories that are supposed to improve the health of your vagina? Again, no. “Recently the use of boric acid suppositories [which are meant to balance your vaginal pH] has become a popular form of vaginal self-care to treat and stave off infections,” Von Bargen says. “However, overuse can actually cause infections. It's best to use boric acid after consulting with your doctor in the case of a severe yeast infection that's not getting better with other medications.”
Have sex, masturbate, and give or get a vaginal massage.
The good news about vaginas: They like to be touched. “Pampering your vagina with a massage from yourself, a toy, or a partner is always a nice option — as long as all toys and fingers are clean,” Von Bargen says. “Sex has all sorts of health benefits, including everything from cramp relief to a stronger immune system.” So, not only are all these kinds of touch pleasurable, they can also be good for your mental and physical health.
Be careful of influencer-style yoni therapists, though. First of all, yoni massage is a tantric spiritual practice that has nothing to do with essential oil diffusers. Second, unless you’re having issues, you don’t need a vagina massage. If you’re experiencing pelvic discomfort, I beg you to see an actual professional with more than an online certification in pussy. In pelvic floor physiotherapy, there are skin rolling massages that can help soothe the area if it is irritated, Eilber notes.
Let your vagina breathe.
In speaking with a half dozen OB/GYNs, sexperts, and urologists, I was a tad shocked by one thing they all agreed on as the best way to pamper your pus: Wear cotton underwear or go commando. “Thongs and tight fitting clothes can become damp quickly and mess with the vaginal balance,” Greg Marchand, an OB/GYN in Arizona, tells me. “Go without underwear when you can, or wear cotton underwear.”
So, the best thing you can do for your vagina is to give it free reign. Can someone ping SCOTUS?