Oh, Gwyneth. Just when we thought weâd heard it all, Gwyneth Paltrow recently toutedÂ the restorative powers of $50 vaginal steam treatmentsÂ on her website, Goop. Here's the scoop on this and four other things you definitely should not be doing to your vagina.
PaltrowÂ offers huge raves for Tikkun Spaâs Mugwort V-Steam: âYou sit on what is essentially a mini-throne, and a combination of infrared and mugwort steam cleanses your uterus, et al," the Oscar winner explains. "It is an energetic releaseânot just a steam doucheâthat balances female hormone levels.â
But ob/gyns call her bluff. âIt probably feels good because the heat increases blood flow to the whole vaginal area, including the clitoris, which could turn some women on,â says Hilda Hutcherson, MD, an ob/gyn at Columbia University Medical Center and author of Pleasure: A Womanâs Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need and Deserve ($17, amazon.com). âBut if you got too close to the steam, you could end up with second degree burns down there.â Yikes.
In addition, the steam itself can increase moisture in and around your nether regions, making you more susceptible to the growth of yeast and unfriendly bacteria, points out Taraneh Shirazian, MD, an ob/gyn at Mount Sinai HospitalÂ in New York City. Not to mention the fact that there's no way for the steam to actually reach your uterus to supposedly cleanse it, and your vagina takes care of cleaning itself.
Bottom line: Youâll likely feel much more energized and balanced by opting for a relaxing full body massage instead.
âI like toâ¦give my vagina a little vitamin D,â Shailene Woodley recently confessed. âIf youâre feeling depleted, go in the sun for an hour and see how much energy you get. Or, if you live in a place that has heavy winters, when the sun finally comes out, spread your legs and get some sunshine.â
But before you peel off your bikini bottoms, consider this: âYour vagina will get the exact same vitamin D benefits if you pop a vitamin D supplement, and you wonât expose your privates to an increased risk of skin cancers such as melanoma,â Dr.Â Shirazian points out. Plus imagine a sunburn down there? Ow yow yow.
RELATED: 10 Things That Mess With Your Period
Inserting sticky edibles into it
While Kandi Burruss of the Real Housewives of Atlanta advocatedÂ putting sugar into your vagina to, er, sweeten the secretions down there,Â ob/gyns say thatâs a no go.
âAs a general rule of thumb, you donât want to insert anything edible into your vagina that you canât easily remove,â says Dr. Hutcherson. âIf it stays there, it can upset the balance of good bacteria and acids in your vagina, setting you up for infection.â
We've said it once, we've said it a million times. Douching: Don't do it.Â For one thing, you donât need to smell like a flowerÂ down there. For another, it's just plain not healthy for your lady bits.
âDouching upsets the natural balance of your vagina,â says Dr. Hutcherson. Research has consistently shown an association between frequent douching and vaginal infections such as yeast and bacterial vaginosis, as well as the fertility-threatening condition pelvic inflammatory disease.
While experts say genital piercingsÂ can be safe if done (and cared for) correctly, genital piercing itself is unregulated in many states, which can make it hard to suss out if the place youâre at is using good hygiene and sterilization methods to reduce risk of infection and scarring.
In addition, while piercings areÂ ostensibly used to increase sexual pleasure, they can cause irritation or even tears during sexual activity which would require you to stop your shenanigans and head to the ER, says Dr. Shirazian. And that's far from sexy.
RELATED: 20 Weird Facts About Sex and Love