New intimate health trends, from vaginal steaming to jade eggs, pop up all the time. But we recently learnt of another bizarre product that promises to boost your vaginal health, despite no evidence of its effectiveness and we're not sure we can blame Gwyneth Paltrow this time.
Several Etsy sellers are now offering 'yoni oil' – a product marketed to woman promising a cleaner, better smelling vagina.
But Helen Knox, clinical nurse specialist in contraception and sexual health is concerned about this recent trend.
Its sellers claim 'yoni oil' – an oil made from 'natural ingredients' that is applied to the vagina – will 'banish bacterial or fungal vaginitis, yeast infections, itching, vaginal dryness and unpleasant odours'.
But Helen says there's no clinical research for these oils, their ingredients or the benefits of putting them on the vulva or inside the vagina. And that's regardless of the claim they've been 'cleansed with sage to clear any negative vibrations' - whatever that means.
"Our vaginas are pretty amazing and are perfectly balanced in order to keep our vaginas healthy. Using any products in the vagina, even if they claim to be natural, could upset this balance of bacteria and the natural, slightly acidic pH balance, in which the good bacteria thrive," reveals Helen.
Get the balance right
Upsetting this balance could result in some uncomfortable problems such as bacteria vaginitis – the most common vaginal condition for women which many women mistake for thrush. Often identified by a fishy odour, it can also cause a strange discharge and vaginal itching.
BV isn't necessarily something to get too worried about – provided it's not left untreated. Lactic acid gel or pessaries found in your local pharmacy will often do the trick. But if you have symptoms or discomfort and you're unsure which condition you may have, visit your GP for the proper diagnosis. There is also a online symptom checker that might help.
But it's always worth remembering that you don't need any product which claims to clean your vagina. Helen recommends you wash around your vulva with plain water once a day - that's all it needs. Don't use aromatherapy or massage oils, soaps, shower gels, scented soaps, or feminine sprays down there.
Helen is used to seeing peculiar intimate health trends appear and knows 'yoni oil' won't be the last of them.
"Last week I was sent a story about a natural products site selling wasp nests to be inserted into, or crushed up and put around the vagina to help tighten and rejuvenate it. Please do not put anything, in your vagina or on your vulva that has not been recommended by a healthcare professional."