By Lindsey Lanquist. Photo: Getty.
Bath bombs are a mesmerizing addition to any DIY spa day, but experts say you might want to think twice before dropping one in your tub. Apparently, bath bombs can disrupt your vagina's pH balance—which can make you more susceptible to things like bacteria and irritation. Sorry bath-bomb lovers, but you might want to forego the fragrant fizz the next time you settle in for a hot bath.
Michael Cackovic, M.D., an ob/gyn at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells SELF there are about 10 to 20 bacteria that normally live in the vagina "in perfect harmony." This harmony leads to a pH level between 4 and 4.5, which helps keep infection-causing pathogens at bay. But there are a number of ways you can disrupt this balance—like by douching or by exposing your vagina to chemicals. "[These changes] create an opportunity for bad bacteria to overtake the vaginal atmosphere and cause an infection," [Jessica Shepherd](http://www.mmichaelagency.com/?page_id=899), M.D., director of minimally invasive gynecology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, tells SELF. This shift to a different pH level, she says, can cause your vagina to become irritated or itchy, and it can lead to changes in vaginal discharge.
So what does that have to do with bath bombs? Well, the fizzy treats have aromatic chemicals in them (that's what makes them smell so nice). But when you're soaking in a tub surrounded by these chemicals, there's a risk that some could make their way into your vagina. This can offset your pH balance, which—as our experts have explained—is an issue.
But Cackovic and Shepherd say this risk is just that—a risk. And that doesn't mean everyone who uses a bath bomb is doomed. "You're going to have some women who have vaginas that are affected by bath bombs and others who don't," Shepherd says. "At the end of the day, it's up to everyone to make their own decision based on how they feel." Cackovic points out that dissolved bath bombs actually come into contact with the skin on the vulva (the external part) and don't necessarily seep inside the vagina (the internal part). So if it doesn't get inside you—and even sometimes when it does—you can still use them and potentially be totally fine. (And heads up: This risk doesn't just apply to bath bombs. Soaps, detergents, and lubricants can cause similar problems.)
So no need to fret—or throw out all your bath bombs immediately. Both doctors recommend giving them a try (only if you want to!) and seeing how things go. Look out for symptoms that something is wrong, and if anything seems concerning (like irritation, strange odor, or change in discharge), talk to your gynecologist. Figure out what makes the most sense for you and your vagina—like Shepherd says, these things vary from person to person. (That said, people who have a history of vaginal or yeast infections may want to stay away from potential irritants such as bath salts and bubble bath, Shepherd warns.)
One last thing: When it comes down to it, your vagina is self-cleaning—meaning there's no need to get hung up on washing it with soap, douching it, or making it smell super great with bath bombs and other fragrant products. If you want to clean it, Shepherd recommends using only water and letting your body take care of the rest.
This story originally appeared on Self.
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