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Please Don't Put Vicks VapoRub in Your Vagina

Photograph by Twenty20

Add Vicks VapoRub to our growing list of "Why on Earth would you put that in your vagina?!" Honorable mentions include jade eggs, wasp nests, cucumbers and glitter bombs. (Yeah, you read those right.)

"I swear there is a random vaginal product generator, and people just spin the wheel to discover what sh-t they can insert today," wrote Dr. Jen Gunter, an OB-GYN and "sexpert" who has been fighting the good fight against women's health myths.

Her latest issue? Women are slathering their vaginas and vulvas with Vicks to soothe itching, cover up their odor and treat yeast infections. Some even use the topical ointment for its tingly sensation to boost their sex life. (Why anyone would think smelling like moth balls, Grandma's house and flu season is sexy is beyond us.)

Forums dedicated to these VapoRub applications aren't difficult to find. And, with our tendency to turn to Dr. Google, misinformation can also easily spread.

"My vagina itches. Just the outside on the labia. They become swollen, as well. When I scratch, they bleed. I use Vicks to soothe the itch and bring down the swelling. It really helps me," someone wrote in a Health24 thread that garnered responses, claiming that the VapoRub helped a pregnant woman with her swelling and was the only thing that helped ease another woman's symptoms—despite an expert commenting that Vicks "is not a good idea in this sensitive area."

Vaginas are self-cleaning and shouldn't smell like mint, jasmine or whatever women's brands try to sell you, according to doctors. They don't have to be deodorized or "cleaned." Actually, putting VapoRub can disrupt the healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels in the vagina, which makes things worse and can introduce other infections.

"Use plain, unperfumed soaps to wash the area around the vagina (the vulva), not inside it, gently every day," Dr. Vanessa Mackay, a gynecologist and spokeswoman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told The Sun. "It's a good idea to avoid perfumed soaps, gels and antiseptics, as these can affect the healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels in the vagina and cause irritation."

Further, if you think that it's OK to apply Vicks down there, as long as it's not in your vagina, that's also going to be a no from the experts.

"Counter irritants (like some of the ingredients in the VapoRub) often produce unpleasant sensations. Basically, you are replacing one unpleasant sensation with another one that is less unpleasant. A normal vagina or vulva should have no unpleasant sensations. It is not uncommon to see vaginal reactions to counter irritants placed on the vulva as the mucosa (inside the vagina) is more sensitive to irritants. It is very hard to apply something on the vulva and have it not seep into the vagina," she wrote.

If you are worried about an unpleasant smell, itching or abnormal secretions, do yourself a favor: Skip Dr. Google, talk to a real doctor and save that VapoRub for your chest colds.

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