LIFESTYLE

Markets Have A New Product For 'Tightening' Vaginas And It's As Horrifying As The Rest Of Them

Cringe.

17/06/2017 1:52 PM IST | Updated 19/06/2017 5:27 PM IST
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Wasps have many uses. They're a natural pesticide that help get rid of garden pests and bugs such as spiders, beetle, grubs and caterpillars; they help pollinate plants and get rid of parasites. So yes, wasps and wasp nests absolutely do belong in our gardens (those of us lucky enough to have them), despite being terrifying for their painful sting.

You know the one place that all things wasp-related don't belong? The vagina. The VAGINA. I can't stress this enough: ladies and gentlemen, the human vagina is not meant to house anything waspish. I've written many bizarre sentences in my career as a writer but I never thought this was a sequence of words I'd ever have to string together.

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Oak galls are caused by a parasitic wasp

In what seems to be the latest in never-ending saga of let's-take-women's-money-by-telling-them-their-vaginas-aren't-good-enough, oak galls are being peddled to women as a vaginal cleaning and tightening product. So what exactly are these adorable-sounding oak galls? Now prepare yourself to be frightened out of your wits by the answer: oak galls are empty wasp nests, the ones that used to hold wasp eggs before they hatched and burrowed out. And they're being inserted down there. Are you grimacing yet?

In India, this "all natural" product is still being sold in packages that proudly advertise vaginal tightening at the very top of its list of benefits.

In case you thought this was some new-fangled Western trend, you'd be mistaken. While the troubling claims may have come to light when an OB/GYN took umbrage to a now-deleted Etsy listing that said oak galls could improve women's sexual experience by tightening the uterine wall, particularly after childbirth, India is by no means exempt. In India, this "all natural" product is still being sold in packages that proudly advertise vaginal tightening at the very top of its list of benefits. Oak galls are readily available to us desi ladies at the click of our 'add to cart' buttons on Amazon.

Drying the vaginal mucosa increases the risk of abrasions during sex (not good) and destroys the protective mucous layer (not good)

The shock and cringe-value aside, there are some very real dangers to grossly unscientific "remedies" such as these. Like Dr Jen Gunter, the OB/GYN whose viral blogpost brought this product to light, warns in her post: "This product follows the same dangerous pathway of other "traditional" vaginal practices, meaning tightening and drying the vagina which is both medically and sexually (for women anyway) undesirable. Drying the vaginal mucosa increases the risk of abrasions during sex (not good) and destroys the protective mucous layer (not good). It could also wreak havoc with the good bacteria. In addition to causing pain during sex, it can increase the risk of HIV transmission. This is a dangerous practice with real potential to harm. Here's a pro-tip, if something burns when you apply it to the vagina it is generally bad for the vagina."

Far too many of us are woefully uninformed and will go to scary lengths if it means added pleasure for our (male) partners.

Excellent advice, along with what should be garden-variety common sense. But when it comes to our vaginas, women all around the world have one thing in common — far too many of us are woefully uninformed and will go to scary lengths if it means added pleasure for our (male) partners. How else do you explain the "advice" (with zero scientific evidence) being spouted by the newsletter of conscious uncoupler and the very woke Gwyneth Paltrow? Advice, which includes, but is not limited to carrying jade eggs in the vagina to improve muscle tone, orgasms, and a whole bunch of other magical benefits. Women carrying money in a little batua in the blouse, I get. But what is this carrying of gems in the nether regions business?!

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While decidedly odd, using the vagina as a pouch is not the worst advice out there. Vaginal bleaches, douches, mints, deodorants, tightening creams and gels, steams, detox (detox!) pearls and a whole bunch of nonsense products are easily available to con women into believing that their vaginas are dirty, smelly and ugly, and need fixing, ASAP. Yeast and other infections be damned.

Is it even a vagina worth having if it doesn't look it's come straight out of an Asian Paints shade card? Rose pompadour or Amaranth pink, madam? So many products for a part of our anatomy that basically cleans itself and would very much like to be just left undisturbed. Not just for aesthetic reasons, but for far more important medical, life-saving ones. Messing with the vagina's natural pH balance, disrupts the balance of good bacteria in it. L.Crispatus, one of the bacteria found in vaginal mucus, defends against the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

L.Crispatus, one of the bacteria found in vaginal mucus, defends against the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

While theoretically, it can be argued that no one is forcing women to stick things into their vaginas and it is a sweeping generalisation to say they're doing it to please the men, I'm yet to come across a woman who is willing to risk turning her vagina into a toxic wasteland because she wants to see an exact shade of pink when she looks into the mirror. Nor do I know one who can fold her body in a manner that allows her nose to be buried in her deodorised doorway to heaven. Nope, no matter how good you are at Pilates, it's not happening.

Each and every one of the women I spoke to confirmed they were doing it to make sex more fun for their husbands and boyfriends.

"He used to scrunch up his face in this very weird manner while going down on me," a friend tells me, explaining why she'd been using douches for the last three years. "We enjoy oral sex a lot more now."

Another friend landed with a painful UTI after an experiment with deodorants went horribly long. "Think of the most painful friction burn you've ever had. Now imagine it not just on the vagina, but inside it as well," she recalls with a shiver.

And a third continues to wave her bleaching wand perilously close to the lips of her vagina in the hope that some day, it's going to be pink and gleaming like a newborn's behind.

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