For some reason, there are many myths out there, especially on the internet, about the mysterious vagina. I’m here to tell you that it isn’t that mysterious, and to help debunk some myths that still float around without a grain of truth.
You should always clean your vagina with special products
Kind of false. Never ever ever wash the inside of your vagina. It’s like a fancy oven, it cleans itself! However, it’s best to use unfragranced soaps or shower gels when washing your vagina to avoid affecting your pH levels. According to womenshealth.gov, “Doctors recommend that you do not douche. Douching can lead to many health problems, including problems getting pregnant. Douching is also linked to vaginal infections and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).” It’s not worth the risk! To quote Buzzfeed: “Your vagina is not a cocktail” and it doesn’t need to smell like one.
You should always use the biggest tampon size that fits
False! Most tampon companies debunk this myth on their website and in the leaflets inside the box. Always use the lowest level of absorbency necessary for your flow. You should also never wear a tampon for more than 8 hours, so don’t wait for it to be full, change it minimum every 8 hours.
You can’t swim when you’re on your period
False! If you’re experiencing cramps or discomfort, you might not want to swim when you’re on your period, which is totally fine. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t! It won’t hurt you, and the risk of getting an infection is very low, contrary to popular belief. Just don’t use a pad when you go swimming, as the glue may dissolve or you might leak, but if you use tampons or a menstrual cup you’ll be perfectly fine. For more answers on swimming while on your period, head over to flo.health.
A shaved vagina is a clean vagina
False! A survey done in the USA found that more than half of women who shave or otherwise groom their pubic hair do so because they think it’s more hygienic. This is 100% untrue. There’s actually evidence that shows that shaving might actually make you more vulnerable to irritation and infection. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t shave or wax (I recently went for my first bikini wax, which you can read more about here), but it definitely means you shouldn’t do so just because your boyfriend/ bestie/ stukkie/ hookup said you should. It’s a personal choice and it’s 100% your choice to make.
You shouldn’t sleep with a tampon because it’s unhealthy
Kind of true. Doctors recommend that you don’t sleep with a tampon in, unless you know you’ll be getting up to change it within 8 hours of inserting it. So if you know you’ll wake up to change it in the middle of the night, or you put it in just before bed and you know you’ll be asleep less than 8 hours, go for it! Otherwise, you should rather use a pad — or if you’re eco-conscious and have taken the plunge to switch over to a menstrual cup, you can sleep soundly. If you’re unsure of what exactly a menstrual cup is, or whether you’d like to use one, check out my article here! I’m all for them and haven’t looked back since that first stressful day.
Veet can be used to groom your pubic hair
Yes and no. You can use Veet (or any other depilatory creams) on your bikini line, as long as you take care not to get it too close to the genital area. And before you put any chemicals ANYWHERE near your genitals, always to a spot test on your arm or leg first to check that you won’t have an adverse reaction.
Tampons are more hygienic than pads or menstrual cups
False. Each of these has their own pros and cons, but no method is more hygienic or “cleaner” than any other. With tampons, the risk of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) is present, pads can feel weird to some people, or can smell, and menstrual cups come with the grossness of having to see everything instead of it just being absorbed (out of sight, out of mind after all). On the other hand, tampons can usually be worn longer and more discreetly than pads, while pads are easier to use and menstrual cups are better for the environment. But that doesn’t mean one of these are better or worse than any others, choose what works for you!
You can only use large tampons or a menstrual cup if you have a “loose” vagina
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False! First things first, there’s no such thing as a “loose” vagina. Sex won’t make you “loose”, tampons won’t make you “loose” and nothing any guy (or girl) can tell you will prove otherwise. Some women have heavier periods than others. Some will have more prominent labia, or a temporarily larger birth canal due to having pushed a living, breathing PERSON out of it, but that doesn’t mean you’re “loose”. You might have weaker pelvic floor muscles than you used to due to age, giving birth or any array of other things, but with some Kegels or pelvic floor exercises you can work on that. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you have a loose vagina because you use the biggest tampon size, it literally only means that you have a heavy flow.
The morning after pill is the same as having an abortion
False! The morning after pill, otherwise known as Plan B or an emergency contraceptive, is a miraculous little pill that can be used in emergency situations to prevent pregnancy. Without going into too much detail, there are a few different options on the market, ranging from a prescription pill that you can take up to five days later, an IUD you can implant within three days, or an over the counter pill you can also take within three days. All of these contraceptives work best when taken as soon after sex as possible. Now, the important part. Taking an emergency contraceptive does NOT mean you had an abortion. It’s not illegal, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Sperm can stay alive in your body for up to six days, hanging out and waiting for an unfertilized egg to come their way. Basically, emergency contraceptives work by temporarily stopping you from ovulating, but they don’t work once you’ve already ovulated, which is why it’s so important to take the pill as soon as possible.
The morning after pill is the same as birth control
False! Doctors don’t recommend that you use emergency contraceptives instead of normal birth control, such as an IUD, condoms, the pill, injections or what have you. According to planned parenthood, taking the morning-after pill whenever you need to won’t hurt you. But it’s not a good idea to use the morning-after pill as your regular, go-to method of birth control. This is because:
- The morning-after pill doesn’t prevent pregnancy as well as other forms of birth control like the IUD, implant, pill, shot, or ring.
- Taking the morning-after pill over and over again is more expensive than being on a regular method of birth control.
- Morning-after pill side effects are temporary and harmless, but annoying (like bleeding between periods or nausea).
It’s totally not worth it, so just pick a method of birth control that works for you and stick to it — but know that the morning after pill will be there for you if you ever need it.
You can’t pee with a tampon in
False! Of course you can pee with a tampon in! This myth came about due to poor sex education. In short, you don’t pee out of your vagina, so there’s no reason not to keep your tampon in when you pee. If you don’t believe me, look up a model of the external female reproductive organs. Your urethra is completely separate from the vagina (and the clitoris for that matter) and definitely won’t be affected by a tampon. Trust me.
Do you have any questions or myths you know of you’d like debunked? Let me know in the comments so we can combat misinformation together!