Just when we thought we'd heard it all, Gwyneth Paltrow recently touted the restorative powers of vaginal steam treatments. Here's the scoop on this and four other things you shouldn't do to your vagina.
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Oh, Gwyneth. Just when we thought we'd heard it all, Gwyneth Paltrow recently touted the restorative powers of $50 vaginal steam treatments on her website, Goop. Here's the scoop on this and four other things you definitely should not be doing to your vagina.

Steaming it

Paltrow offers huge raves for Tikkun Spa's Mugwort V-Steam: "You 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 release, not just a steam douche, that balances female hormone levels."

But ob/gyns call her bluff. "It probably feels good because the heat increases blood flow to the whole vaginal area, including the clitoris, which could turn some women on," says Hilda Hutcherson, MD, an ob/gyn at Columbia University Medical Center and author of Pleasure: A Woman's Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need and Deserve ($17, amazon.com). "But if you got too close to the steam, you could end up with second degree burns down there." 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 Hospital 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: You'll likely feel much more energized and balanced by opting for a relaxing full body massage instead.

Sunbathing it

"I like to give my vagina a little vitamin D," Shailene Woodley recently confessed. "If you're 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."

But before you peel off your bikini bottoms, consider this: "Your vagina will get the exact same vitamin D benefits if you pop a vitamin D supplement, and you won't expose your privates to an increased risk of skin cancers such as melanoma," Dr. Shirazian points out. Plus imagine a sunburn down there? Ow yow yow.

Inserting sticky edibles into it

While Kandi Burruss of the Real Housewives of Atlanta advocated putting sugar into your vagina to, er, sweeten the secretions down there, ob/gyns say that's a no go.

"As a general rule of thumb, you don't want to insert anything edible into your vagina that you can't easily remove," says Dr. Hutcherson. "œIf it stays there, it can upset the balance of good bacteria and acids in your vagina, setting you up for infection."

Douching it

We've said it once, we've said it a million times. Douching: Don't do it. For one thing, you don't need to smell like a flower down there. For another, it's just plain not healthy for your lady bits.

"Douching upsets the natural balance of your vagina," 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.

Piercing it

While experts say genital piercings 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 you're at is using good hygiene and sterilization methods to reduce risk of infection and scarring.

In addition, while piercings are 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.