Another day, another thing we’re being told to do with our vaginas.
Whether it’s Gwyneth Paltrow telling us to put jade eggs up them or companies flogging us ‘herbal womb detox pearls‘, it seems women will never be allowed to just let our private parts be.
The latest item being tea tree oil.
A week ago, one Mumsnet user revealed that she regularly uses tea tree oil to “douche” her vagina before smear tests and after sex.
“Was talking with friends today. I have a smear soon. Just mentioned I was going to pick up some tea-tree oil on the way home,” she wrote.
“They asked what it was for so I told them I douche before these appointments. I occasionally do it after sex too. In fact I try not to have sex in the few days leading up to an internal.
“They were [shocked]. Now I feel weird.
“To me, it’s like giving my teeth an extra good brush, flossing, mouthwash before seeing dentist. Just preparing myself, you know? A lot of women in the US seem to have this as part of their regular routine.
“By the way, I’ve been doing this for a few years now and no gynae problems so far.”
She’s not the only person to have suggested this idea, either – the internet is littered with articles titled things like ‘How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Yeast Infections’ and ‘How to Get Rid of Vaginal Odour’ involving the practice.
Wisely, many users responded to on Mumsnet that they didn’t think it was a good idea – including someone who claimed to be an ex-practice nurse who’d conducted plenty of smear tests:
“Please stop putting tea tree up your vag,” they said. “You risk really damaging the mucosal membrane.”
And just in case we needed confirmation of this, Shazia Malik, consultant obstetrician & gynaecologist at The Portland Hospital explained to Metro exactly what we’d risk by doing this ourselves:
“Vaginal douching at all is not recommended, and can be harmful to your vaginal health,” he said.
“The vagina has a delicate balance of bacteria and secretions which keep the vagina healthy and also protect from harmful infections/bacteria.
“The natural secretions (the mucus) in the vagina act to keep it clean and remove anything harmful, so to disrupt this by washing away the mucus and healthy bacteria is in effect leaving the vagina unarmed as it were to protect you.”
If anything, Malik says that there even appears to be an increase in STDs, sub-fertility and ectopic pregnancy in women who regularly douche.
“Women who do this in pregnancy are also more likely to suffer preterm labour because of certain infections which increase the chance of having a preterm birth,” he concludes.
And that’s just douching with water, folks.
“To add tea tree oil then doesn’t make sense to an organ which is self-cleaning,” explains Shazia.
“If undiluted it could burn the delicate mucosal lining of the vagina, and even if diluted can strip away healthy bacteria.”
In other words – if you haven’t got the message already – keep it the hell away from your vagina.
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