Why are we even having this discussion?
Have you ever looked at a jar of Vicks VapoRub and thought, If it can clear my sinuses, get rid of my cough, and create an icy, burning sensation on my chest and throat, I wonder what it would do if I smeared it on my vagina? No, you haven’t. But apparently, there a bunch of women out there who have because we are now being asked by doctors to please, please not put Vicks VapoRub on or in our vaginas. Those same doctors then heave a weary sigh, go back to their offices, bang their heads against their desks, and dream of retirement.
We were first alerted to the Vagina VapoRub phenomenon by The Daily Mail, which wrote last week that some online forums and blogs recommend using Vicks VapoRub to improve your sex life, get rid of yeast infections, clean your vagina, and eliminate odors. This article also has a sidebar asking women not to engage in “vagina facials” which involve putting a peeled cucumber in your vagina and then “twisting it around for approximately 20 minutes.” Come on. Like I have that kind of time.
But back to the VapoVag controversy. None of those supposed benefits of using VapoRub on your vagina are accurate and some, as a matter of fact, could cause infections.
First things first: will rubbing Vicks VapoRub on my vagina improve my sex life? I was also thinking of removing my pubic hair with a square of extra coarse sandpaper, would that cause any problems? The answer to both of these questions is: “Give me your keys, Laura. You’re drunk.” The idea behind this sexual theory is that the tingling sensation you feel when VapoRub is on your chest will cause the same kind of tingle in your lady bits. The problem, however, is that that tingle can quickly become a wildfire that no amount of screaming or vigorous washing will put out. And there’s nothing sexy about a crying woman feverishly splashing toilet water on her crotch while Googling “Can VapoRub destroy vaginas?”
Second, far from helping get rid of yeast infections, VapoRub could make yours worse by interfering with the good bacteria that your poor vagina is already producing to try to fight off the infection. Remember when your kid was a baby and you got them all dressed up in a cute outfit to get pictures taken and right before you walked out the door they took an enormous dump all over it? And you were like, “The hell?! I am working so hard for you, trying to keep you healthy and make you look nice for pictures, and you go and ruin all my hard work? What will your grandparents say when they see you?!” Well, that’s exactly what your vagina says when you mess with it like this. Except for the part about your grandparents. Hopefully, those are two people who don’t have a stake in your vagina’s appearance.
Third, Vicks VapoRub is not a good way to clean your vagina. And while we’re on the subject, neither is drain cleaner or a can of Shasta. (We haven’t heard of anyone trying those, but after this VapoRub thing who the hell knows.) In fact, vaginas — despite what some want you to believe — are not dirty. In fact, they are very clean. Vaginas are actually self-cleaning, like ovens, which, incidentally, also don’t respond well to be cleaned with VapoRub. All you should be using to clean your vagina is water and mild soap. That’s it.
Finally, as far as odor goes, I would like to quote Madeleine Aggeler from her terrific article for Bustle on vaginas and VapoRub: “VAGINAS ARE MEANT TO SMELL LIKE VAGINAS.” Yes. Thank you, Madeleine. Vaginas aren’t supposed to smell like “Tropical Rain,” “Sheer Floral,” or, God forbid, “Island Splash” (whatever the hell that is). In fact, if your vagina has an unpleasant odor, that could mean there’s something wrong and you should go see your doctor. Using douches and sprays, as we noted above, will only make things worse, and then what have you got? A vagina that smells like Infected Island Splash. And no one wants that.
So please, for the love of all that is vagina, don’t put Vicks VapoRub on it. And please don’t make us have this conversation again. Thank you.