Are Feminine Hygiene Washes Safe? Science Says You'd Be Better Off Skipping Them

Despite my better judgment, I've certainly scoured the "feminine care" aisle of CVS on more than one occasion because I was paranoid about not smelling the freshest, if you know what I mean (I'm talking about my vagina). However, although all those washes and sprays claim to do things like reduce odor and balance pH, doctors generally believe that feminine washes are probably bad for you, and they can cause unnecessary anxiety. I would like to say I'm surprised, but unfortunately men trying to convince women they need to buy products to make their vaginas smell better, when their vaginas were doing just fine on their own thank you, is not even close to a new pheneomenon. 

I'm not the only person who's fallen prey to these products (I mean, obviously, since they continue to be stocked on drugstore shelves). A British market research firm found that 24 percent of women over age 16 have used feminine wipes or a feminine wash in the past six months. But the fact that they're pretty commonly used doesn't mean they're actually effective, British gynecologist Dr. Ugwumadu warned The Daily Mail. I'm here to tell you the top reasons why you should stop buying these types of products.

Reason #1: They won't help you avoid infections, and might actually make you more prone to them.

You don't need to be super immaculately clean down there in order to ward off infections — in fact, the opposite is true. You've probably heard that your vagina is a balanced ecosystem with plenty of good bacteria to keep you healthy and you don't want to upset it, right? Right. 

As far as pH goes, your vagina's healthy range is anywhere from 3.5-4.5 (about the same as a tomato, in case you were wondering). Your good bacteria are always working to keep that pH in balance, so really your job is just not interfering with that. When you douche or use other special soaps, deodorants, etc. you can strip away the good bacteria and cause an imbalance. This can lead to an infection called bacterial vaginosis, or BV. Although BV can be easily cured by some antibiotics, speaking from a personal perspective it's pretty unpleasant to have and I'd suggest avoiding it altogether. 0/10 would not recommend.

Reason #2: That sh*t is costly

The NIH reported women spend over 2 billion dollars per year on feminine hygiene products — pads, tampons, washes, sprays, powders, you name it. Given that up until recently there wasn't even a lot of research done on how the chemicals in those products could affect women's health, we're throwing a lot of money at stuff that we can't even put all our faith in. On an individual level, I spent $25 on one pack of probiotics that are supposed to maintain vaginal health, and if they don't work I will be pretty upset about it.

Reason #3: They are probably misleading you

Although some feminine hygiene products might raise the risk of BV, not all do, particularly those that are not meant for internal use, like shower gels. The problem? They claim to help maintain or support a healthy pH, which is unlikely. As Dr. Ugwumadu says, "As they don't get anywhere near the inside, I don't see how they could have any effect on the pH."  So, at best, you're being duped, and at worst, you're harming your body. 

See what else Dr. Ugwumadu had to say at The Daily Mail .

Images: Genna G / Flickr; christianbie, thebossbeauty / Tumblr; Reaction Gifs

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