Reminder: There's No Reason To Detox Your Vagina, No Matter How Many Trendy Products You See

The health and wellness complex has a pervasive obsession with detoxing. The idea of detoxing is indeed so thorough that even vaginas have been caught in the struggle. And while we have some theories — one being that the concept of detoxing is packed with problematic purity culture and even racist undertones — we want to remind you that there's no reason to detox your vagina, despite advertising online that might suggest otherwise. 

There is a vast selection of products said to target vaginal health. Lemme, the herbal supplement brand from Kourtney Kardashian, has released a batch of gummies specifically for vaginal health, claiming to balance the vagina's pH levels and odor through probiotics. Meanwhile, other products such as feminine washes or deodorizing sprays can do much more harm than good, altering the vagina's bacterial environment and leading to issues such as infection. Likewise, vaginal douching has long been shown to be harmful to vaginal health, including increasing one's risk for cervical cancer, repeated infections, and more, according to research published in the Epidemiologic Reviews. And now, there is even a trend on TikTok where women are making #kittyjuice to supposedly keep the vagina's pH balanced. The idea that vaginas need to be cleansed, cleaned, detoxed, freshened, purified — you name it — amounts to nothing more than marketing, and supports a longstanding myth that vaginas are unclean. Women spoke exclusively with Dr. Barbara Frank, a Harvard-affiliated OB/GYN and Attn: Grace Medical Advisor, to understand what's going on with vaginal detox.

The vagina is perfect

The adage "less is more" has never been more true than when it comes to vaginal health. Speaking exclusively with Women, Dr. Barbara Frank puts it like this: "The vagina is a perfect place with the perfect pH. Don't mess with it," she says. She also reminds us, "The vagina, and uterus for that matter, is a self-cleaning oven. Bottom line!" The vagina needs to contain certain bacteria in its environment to keep the vagina properly functioning. For this reason, claims that the vagina needs to be detoxed are simply false. So, how does the vagina keep itself in shape? According to the Office on Women's Health, the vagina makes mucous that collects any potential pathogens and keeps them away on its own. A healthy vagina can have a mild odor, and this is completely normal. 

It is important to note that some vaginal health products are categorized as "cosmetics" or "supplements" by the FDA, which means that while the ingredients are regulated, the products are not subject to FDA approval. Research published by Chem Fatale and cited in Ms. Mayhem also revealed that Black and Latina women were more likely to use feminine hygiene products, perhaps signaling a legacy of racism in which Black and Brown women were said to be less clean or pure than white women. It might also signal that, where racial gaps in obstetric and gynecologic care are extremely prevalent in the United States, Black and Brown women face additional obstacles to proper reproductive health care. 

How you can clean

When it comes to cleanliness, the part of one's package that does need to be cleaned, however, is the vulva. It is widely recommended that all one needs is water and mild soap to clean the vulva, which includes the labia, clitoris, and the vaginal opening — in other words, everything that's outside of the vagina. Speaking exclusively with Women, Dr. Barbara Frank suggests that should you have sensitive skin, you should use non-irritating soap and water to wash, which includes a soap that is fragrance-free. Should you be concerned about an odor or discharge, it is best to consult a doctor to discuss your symptoms and treatment options. 

Remember that your body is designed to detox. According to the National Coalition on Health Care, our liver, kidneys, skin, lymphatic system, and lungs are each specifically designed to remove toxins from our bodies naturally. There are two kinds of toxins in our bodies: endotoxins, the waste your body makes; and exotoxins, the toxins the body can collect from the environment. Sustaining a nutritious diet and staying hydrated are among the best things you can do to maintain your overall health, so our detoxing organs can do their jobs properly. Your vagina does not need any additional detoxing. As Dr. Frank says, "The vagina is a perfect place ... ," just as it is.