WTF Are Vaginal Moisturizing Melts?
Controversial, maybe, but it's safe to say that Goop's "This Smells Like My Vagina" candle doesn't emit the natural scents of anyone's actual genitals. Though if yours releases a blended bouquet of geranium, citrusy bergamot and cedar absolutes juxtaposed with Damask rose and ambrette seed, more power to you. Unless there’s some funky medical issue going on, however, your vagina already naturally smells and tastes exactly the way it should.
Unfortunately, a wave of viral TikTok videos is making a case for unmedicated suppositories that claim to change your vagina's aroma for the better. Users including @britneyw24 and @jwightman_789 are hawking vaginal moisturizing suppository melts—sold in flavors including "Strawberry Kiss," "Sweetly Peach'' and "Blueberry Bliss"—in video clips that garnered more than 78,500 views and 2.2 million views, respectively.
“Just pop that baby up there and then when you’re having your little fun time… it makes your downtown smell and taste like the flavor you chose,” @britneyw24 said in her popular clip.
Under the right circumstances, suppositories can be a welcome solution. These small packages of a medical product are designed to be placed into a body cavity to improve its health, explained Felice Gersh, M.D., an OB-GYN who founded the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, in Irvine, California. Gersh is also the author of "PCOS SOS Fertility Fast Track." Some women use suppositories to restore hormones, treat infections and to relieve pelvic floor pain.
But unless it’s a doctor-approved medication, someone’s (clean!) digits, a penis or a sex toy made from body-safe materials, you really shouldn’t be sticking things up there that don’t belong. “The vagina contains a very complex microbial population, and anything inserted within its cavity has potential to cause harm,” Gersh said. “It could have the unintended consequence of inducing an infection and possibly problems with all reproductive organ structures.”
That directive is especially true when it comes to things that can disrupt the pH of your vagina. A woman's genitals are naturally slightly acidic, and maintaining that pH balance is crucial to keeping it healthy, said Kimberly Langdon, M.D., a retired OB-GYN and medical advisor at an Austin, Texas, digital health company called Medzino Health.
“Anything that pushes the vaginal environment to a more alkaline state will cause it to lose its protective features,” Gersh added, which could then lead to irritation and even infections.
These suppositories are billed as organic, soy-free, gluten-free, glycerin-free, parabens-free, hormone-free and naturally antimicrobial. “Just because something is organic doesn’t mean it belongs in the vagina,” Langdon said. “Herbs like tea tree oil and lavender, chocolate and vanilla flavors are chemicals and have no place in the vagina.”
Just because something is organic doesn’t mean it belongs in the vagina.
Chemicals placed into the vagina get absorbed into the body proper, Gersh added, and can activate certain allergies, as well. And anything that emits a fragrance typically contains phthalates, chemicals that interfere with hormonal signaling, Gersh said. On top of all that, oil-based products can compromise latex or polyisoprene condoms.
So, no, there’s absolutely no reason to change the natural smell or taste of a healthy vagina. “Any smell comes from the external vulvar/skin surface that comes into contact with air and can develop biofilms filled with bacteria, and that bacteria is part of the normal microbiome that will not cause an odor unless it reacts with chemicals/fragrances,” Langdon said. “Over time, with sweat, vaginal discharge and skin cell exfoliation, the bacteria release byproducts that can develop an odor, just like an underarm or body odor develops when people sweat.”
You should always pay attention to what’s normal for your vagina, and if you do notice a change in your scent, you should probably see an OB-GYN, as changes in smell could indicate a developing vaginal infection (odor can be associated with infertility and sexually transmitted infections, too, Gersh said). One thing is for certain—it’s probably not a good idea to count on a social media-marketed product that claims to mask or change the scent of your vagina. Use one of them, and there’s a decent chance you’ll end up in your doctor’s office.