It’s not often that vaginas make the headlines but recently we’ve read a spate of articles about ‘Yoni Oil’ that is being sold to women online as a health product.
‘Yoni’ is a word derived through Hinduism for vulva and vagina, and sellers make a variety of claims for their own blends of oils – some claim that it will promote ‘freshness’, others that it will moisturise and some say using this oil can support vaginal health. We asked Helen Knox, Clinical Nurse Specialist in Sexual Health and member of the Intimate Health Taskforce what she thinks about it.
We have read that Yoni oil can be bad for your vaginal health. Is this true?
When it comes to vaginal health I would recommend that women do not use anything on, in or around their vulva or vagina that has not been recommended by a reliable and qualified healthcare professional such as a pharmacist, doctor, nurse or gynaecologist. This is due to the fact that the vagina has a very delicate eco system of millions of micro-organisms that are perfectly balanced to maintain your vaginal health. Lactobacillus for example, is a type of ‘good’ bacteria that helps maintain the slightly acidic vaginal pH, which helps protect it from harmful bacteria that could cause an infection. Inserting any kind of product into the vagina can upset this incredible eco system causing an imbalance to occur, which makes you more likely to experience symptoms of a condition such as Bacterial Vaginosis (BV).
Yoni Oil products claim to have natural ingredients in them including essential oils, doesn’t this mean they are OK to use?
Not necessarily! Even if a product claims to be natural it doesn’t make it right, suitable or safe for use in the vagina.
Does the skin around my vagina need cleaning or moisturizing?
You don’t need to clean your vagina. When your vagina is healthy, it cleans itself and doesn’t need washing internally. As part of your daily cleaning routine, washing around your vulva, once a day is sufficient. The vulva is the skin around the opening to your vagina, and washing this with plain water, is fine. Don’t use soaps, shower gels, scented soaps or feminine sprays as they can upset the delicate balance of micro-organisms inside the vagina.
What if I don’t like how my vagina smells and I want to make it smell nicer?
All vaginas have their own natural smell, you and your partner may just have to learn to accept it. If you start trying to change or mask it by over-washing or using perfumed soaps or products that are antiseptic, this could have a negative effect on the vaginal pH balance and microorganisms inside your vagina which can leave you more likely to experience symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.
If you are experiencing quite a strong smelling fishy odour then you may be experiencing symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. Having BV doesn’t mean you’re not clean. In fact, often the opposite is true. Soap, washes and even douches can upset your natural balance, which makes you more likely to develop BV.
If you think you may have developed BV talk to your pharmacist or GP for a proper diagnosis and to discuss treatment options. They may either recommend antibiotics or a lactic acid gel like Balance Activ which helps to maintain and restore your vagina’s natural balance and relieve symptoms.
Are people allowed to sell products with false health claims?
While the internet is a brilliant tool for lots of credible information, it is unfortunately also home to lots of misleading information as well. Sometimes a product claim may be based on an idea but is not backed up by fact and research. When it comes to vaginal health, there are many reputable companies out there that are investing heavily to produce safe and effective products based on research and fact, so there is no need to try or use anything you find on the internet that isn’t medically recommended, safe and appropriate for you. Be guided by advice from qualified healthcare practitioners, whose sole aim is to help you, rather than sell you something you don’t need or shouldn’t use.
For more information about BV and expert advice for vaginal health please click here. Content for this site has been developed in collaboration with the Intimate Health Taskforce, a panel of health professionals and women with BV who want to provide women with quality information on vaginal health.