No One’s Vagina Needs Herbal Tampons

Last week, beauty blog xoNECOLE – which I like a lot, but this is insane – posted a gushing review of herbal tampons titled “I Detoxed My Uterus” that did not in any way discuss the medical side of shoving herbs up your cooch.

What are herbal tampons, you ask? They’re (supposedly) sachets of herbs that will detox, disinfect, tighten, and maintain your vagina if you leave them in for a full 72 hours. Has your vagina been bingeing on booze and coke? Probably not, so it probably doesn’t need a detox. But I digress.

You can buy herbal tampons from such reputable sources as Amazon Marketplace, eBay, and, of course, Etsy (from a seller using the same image that appears on an Ali Express wholesale listing, no less). None of the products are FDA-reviewed or -approved, so there’s no way of telling what’s actually in them unless you happen to be a botanist, in which case you could probably make your own herbal tampons.

But this is dangerous. As Dr. Jen Gunter of Kaiser Permanente discussed with Yahoo News, “None of your organs want the kind of help that comes with a ‘detox’ because they have evolved to take care of themselves in partnership with the rest of your body.” Further, you run the risk of actually damaging your vagina. As Dr. Gunter tells it, there are three potential problems associated with herbal tampons:

  • Damaging the good bacteria in your vagina, and encouraging the growth of bad bacteria. “I have removed many retained tampons over my career and the smell is so bad we typically have to close the exam room for the rest of the day … this smell alerts you there is a serious issue somewhere,” Gunter says.

  • Irritating the lining of your vagina, which increases the risk of infection.

  • Contributing to toxic shock syndrome, since you’re supposed to leave them in for 72 hours — far longer than any tampon or similar product should stay in the vagina.

Meanwhile, here’s an ironic tidbit from that breathless xoNECOLE review:

“Overall, I think this was one of the best decisions I’ve made in regards to my personal health.  I feel when working to improve our health we as women often forget about our most prized possessions, our reproductive organs.  Taking good care of them via eating properly, and being cautious about what (and who) we let in our vagina is crucial to our overall health as womb-men.”

I agree! Vaginal health is extremely important and often overlooked, and absolutely, those of us who have vaginas should be “cautious” about what “we let in our vagina[s].” I’d go so far as to say that a fair rule would be not to put anything in your vagina – especially for 72 hours straight – on which you do not have a guarantee.

The whole premise of herbal tampons, anyway, is that vaginas are inherently icky and dirty and sloppy and need to be cleansed and detoxed and sanitized and tightened. Vaginas are just fine. Your vagina is fine. The bacteria in it is there for a reason, and there are plenty of good doctors in the world who have more of a clue about how to help you out when something seems off about your vagina than an Etsy seller. Please, for the love of your own cooch, don’t go sticking herbs in it.


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