We live in an age obsessed with detox. And we get it, sites just like ours help curate that language, but there is CONTEXT, people! Detoxification is what the body does naturally, all on its own. In this day and age, we need a little extra help here and there, due to the massive amounts of toxins in our air, water, food, products … you get it.
But does this mean we need to be in a constant state of major detox? Absolutely not. And when it comes to those of us with vaginas? Please, God, no. And bearing all this in mind, cue vaginal detox pearls. They sound cute, they tend to be made of natural, herbal ingredients, and yet … We spoke with Heather Bartos, MD, host of The ME Spot podcast, to break down exactly what we think about these little nonessential (and possibly harmful) nuggets.
“In a nutshell (which is about the only natural product NOT in a vaginal detox pearl), pearls are an all-natural herbal suppository that are supposed to help women spiritually reconnect with themselves, their yoni, and even detoxing their exes,” Bartos starts.
“These ovules contain everything from Cnidium (a flowering plant) to Stemona (a shrub), Fructose kochiae (a fruit), Motherwort (an herb similar to mint), Angelica rhizome (a plant), Borneol (an organic compound derived from a tree in the teak family), and Linguisticum wallichii (a flowering plant in the carrot family). But keep in mind that natural doesn’t mean appropriate. There are a lot of natural products that I would never stick in my cooch, including asbestos, mercury, and UV radiation, among many others.”
We like to be frank here at Poosh, and for that, we thank you, Dr. Bartos. We have to remember that the vagina is a very, very self-regulating instrument, and tends to take care of things without any extra help from us, unless it’s asking for help specifically, e.g. an infection. Remember when douching got called out for being majorly problematic? Yeah. The D.A.R.E. acronym means something different to us here.
But we digress. Dr. Bartos back on vaginal detox pearls: “SPOILER ALERT: I have not nor will I use one! The instructions are thus: you place one into your vagina and let it sit there for 24 hours. After you remove that pearl, you insert a second pearl and leave that one in for 48 hours. Then, that pearl is removed and wait three to five more days—and then your vagina will start to ‘purge’ ‘dead vaginal cells, mucus, yeast, old blood clots,’ and ‘other components’ from your vagina.” Fully approved usage of excessive air quotes here, in our humble opinion. Our vaginas are not this aggro … we promise, she’s chill!
“The vagina does not need purging. The Purge was also a horror movie!” Pertinent, Dr. Bartos.
“This area is so sensitive that inserting and leaving a ‘pearl’ in is just sloughing off the super essential vaginal mucosa.
As a gynecologist who works in the field of sexual empowerment, this is NOT the message women need today. It once again implies that the vagina is dirty and needs ‘treatment,’ when in fact, your vagina is working 24/7 to cleanse herself. I am personally tired of the idea of detoxing everything: when something is not going our way in our lives … let’s DETOX! Only women really detox (via diets, over-cleansing, etc.). It’s 2021’s boot camp, LOL.
This reminds me of vaginal steaming, another means of destroying your vagina’s natural pH, but that’s THE WHOLE POINT—that’s how she fights infections and environmental issues. Using these can up the risk of yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, general discomfort, and even an increased risk of STIs.”
Our entire body works to regulate its appropriate pH. Our digestive tract, our skin, and most definitely, our vaginas. But the vagina also has a microbiome of its own. Antimicrobial herbs sound great because they kill bacteria, until we understand that many types of bacteria are not only beneficial to the vagina, but essential. When we throw off our vaginal flora, we also up the risk of infection, namely yeast infections. Then we need yet another kind of suppository, and we create a loop of stuffing things we don’t need into our perfect-as-they-are little gardens!
Take it from Dr. Bartos: “If we want to honor our vaginas, leave her alone. Let her do her thing. Wash her gently. Talk nice about her. If you want to cleanse your exes, may I suggest burning an old shirt of theirs, not burning off the top layer of your vaginal mucosa.” Mic (and pearl) drop.