From hot girl walks to VapoRub anxiety hacks, TikTok health trends have taken over the wellness space in the last few years, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Creators sharing their tips for mental health problems, trainers passing on their favorite workouts or stretches, and doctors providing information about common health problems can all help to educate audiences and destigmatize health issues. That said, the information given on TikTok isn’t always the most accurate, which is concerning when these trends related to your body and health.
All of that is especially true when it comes to vaginal health. It’s no secret that vaginas and vulvas are a very sensitive area of the body, so when your FYP is full of vagina-related trends, it’s worth approaching with caution.
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“Inaccurate health information can mislead people and potentially harm their well-being,” Mickey Karram, MD, a gynecologist and urogynecologist at VISTHETIC Surgery Institute and Medspa, tells POPSUGAR. That’s true across the board, but once that misinformation hits an influential platform like TikTok, it can shoot to viral status — as many sexual health trends have. We talked to Dr. Karram about the most potentially harmful of these TikTok vaginal health trends, why you should avoid them, and what to do instead.
Vaginal dabbing, aka vabbing
Vaginal dabbing involves applying your own vaginal fluids to your pulse points (wrists, neck, inside of the elbows) like perfume. The idea is that your natural “pheromones” will help you attract partners or make a good first impression. And while you might think this sounds harmless (if a little… different), Dr. Karram says that’s not exactly true.
“Vabbing is not entirely without risks,” he says. “Whenever an object or body part is introduced into the vagina, there is a potential risk of infection.” Sure, washing your hands before touching your vaginal area can help lower the risk, but you might still accidentally introduce bacteria to the vagina, Dr. Karram notes. “Conversely, there’s also the risk of transmitting bacteria, yeast, or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from the vagina to the vabbing points on the body and, subsequently, to anything that encounters the skin.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you might have seen some TikTok creators advertising “moisturizing melts” for your vagina, which are non-medicated vaginal suppositories meant to make your vagina taste or smell a certain way.
Rule of thumb: anything that promises to make your vagina smell or taste more “appealing” should be a red flag. Though their language might disguise it, these brands are looking to turn a profit “by preying on insecurities about vaginal odor,” Dr. Karram says. In reality, the scent and taste of the vagina is “natural and can vary from person to person,” he explains, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to change or “improve” that for anyone.
On top of that, “attempting to alter the scent or taste of the vagina is generally unnecessary and can potentially be harmful,” Dr. Karram notes. That’s because your vagina relies on “a delicate balance of bacteria and yeast” to stay healthy, and introducing substances or attempting to change that natural pH balance “can disrupt this delicate ecosystem and potentially lead to infections or other complications.” If you are concerned about the taste or smell of your vagina, talking your doctor is the best way to address it, whether it’s a matter of hygiene or an untreated infection.
According to Dr. Karram, vaginal steaming may be the most potentially harmful trend on this list. It’s essentially a steam bath that’s pointed directly at the vagina, which users claim can provide benefits like increased libido or a tighter vagina. However, vaginal steaming can increase your risk of vaginal infections, particularly if the equipment isn’t properly cleaned. Pregnant women should also be sure to steer clear of vaginal steaming, as the “excess heat from vaginal steaming can lead to complications and even birth defects,” Dr. Karram explains.
It’s also important to note that your vagina is a self-cleaning organ. It doesn’t need to be steamed to be clean and healthy! Overall, there’s a “lack of scientific evidence supporting the claimed benefits of vaginal steaming,” Dr. Karram notes. Given the potential for burns and infections, it may cause more harm than good.
Placing ice cubes in the vagina
We got cold just typing that. According to this trend, placing ice cubes inside your vagina can “tighten” it and possibly treat bacterial overgrowth, but it’s not something doctors would recommend.
For one thing, Dr. Karram says, “the delicate tissues of the vagina are sensitive and can be easily irritated or injured by extreme temperatures.” Putting ice cubes in direct contact with these tissues “can cause discomfort, pain, and even ice burns,” he notes. And, as we’ve already talked about, introducing any kind of foreign object (including ice cubes) to the vagina can disrupt its natural bacterial balance, opening the door to infections.
As Dr. Karram notes, this trend may not even work when it comes to “tightening” the vagina. “There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that putting ice cubes in the vagina has any health benefits or can improve vaginal tightness or other concerns,” he says.
Lemon juice to delay period
It’s not clear where this particular myth got its start, but several TikTok videos have claimed that taking a shot of lemon juice can delay or shorten their menstrual cycle. However, there’s no scientific evidence to back this up. “The only reliable way to control or delay periods is through the use of hormonal birth control methods, such as the pill, patch, ring, or hormonal IUDs,” Dr. Karram says.
Boric acid suppositories for yeast infections
Can boric acid suppositories help treat yeast infections? Some TikTokers think so, and this trend does actually have some truth to it. “Boric acid suppositories have been suggested as a treatment option [for yeast infections],” Dr. Karram notes, but adds that it’s “essential to understand the limitations and potential harms associated with its use.” Boric acid for vaginal use isn’t well-regulated or researched, which means its effectiveness and safety aren’t well-established, he says. These suppositories can also lead to skin irritation for some people, and can be toxic if ingested. “Additionally, pregnant and breastfeeding individuals should avoid using boric acid due to the limited research on its safety in these situations,” Dr. Karram says.
If you do think you have a yeast infection, it’s best to talk to a doctor about a treatment plan. Yeast infections are typically treated with antifungal medications (like pills, creams, or suppositories), which often clear up the infection within a few days to a week.
Avoiding harmful TikTok vagina trends
It’s getting harder and harder to differentiate between accurate and inaccurate information on TikTok, especially when it comes to health. Dr. Karram’s advice? When you come across new TikTok trend that relates to your vagina or sexual health in general, it’s “best to always run things by your gynecologist and use good, common sense.” If your FYP serves up a tip or hack that sounds uncomfortable or just too good to be true, it probably is. When we’re talking about an area as sensitive as your vulva and vagina, some healthy skepticism is always a good idea.
Before you go, here are seven yoga poses we recommend skipping when you’re on your period:
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