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10 Things to Never Put Near Your Vagina

Your vagina brings you incredible pleasure, can expand wide enough to fit a baby, and even has its own doctor. Considering how amazing this body part is, you want to do everything you can to give it the TLC it needs. And that means avoiding the surprising products, toys, and toiletries that pose a hidden threat to the health of your lady bits. “The vagina contains the most delicate and sensitive skin of your entire body, and things that seem harmless can leave you with an infection, irritation, burns, or other damage,” says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical associate professor of ob-gyn at Yale School of Medicine. Find out why these 10 items should be on your banned-below-the-belt list.

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Rubber or Soft Plastic Sex Toys

After just a little wear and tear, vibrators made from soft, flexible plastic, or jelly-like rubber can develop tiny nicks and grooves where microbes can hide. Insert the toy into your vagina, and you may have just scored yourself an infection, says Minkin. Go with silicone, stainless steel, or hard plastic pleasure products instead, which won't break down and degrade. And though it's probably the last thing you want to do after a sex session, make sure you wash your toy with soap and water after you use it. 

Fruits and Vegetables

Even organic produce that’s been scrubbed clean still carries bacteria. These wouldn't be a threat to your digestive tract, but introduce the microbes to your private parts, and you’ll upset the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina, potentially triggering a bacterial or yeast infection, says Minkin. We're all for stocking up on healthy plant food, but seriously, this is not the way to get your five a day.

Pubic Hair Dye

Experimenting with hair color down below earns big props for creativity. But we’ve got to warn you: The skin around your pubes is way more sensitive than your scalp. If the chemicals in the dye make contact with your labia (not to mention get past your vaginal opening), you could be in for some sex-postponing burning and pain, says Minkin. Stick to trying out different hair colors above the neck only.

Oil-Based Lubricants

Motion lotion is a genius invention. Just stay away from the kind that lists oil or petroleum jelly on the ingredients label. Oil-based products are thicker and harder to wash out of your hoo-ha, turning it into a breeding ground for bacteria, says Minkin. The other danger is, oil can break down latex, putting you at risk of an STD or pregnancy if your partner is wearing a latex condom. Silicone-based and water-based lubricants that contain no additives are safe and won't affect latex, she says.

Douches and Intimate Sprays

Not only are douches, intimate sprays, and vaginal wipes totally unnecessary (the vaginal canal is self-cleansing; that’s what discharge is for), using them can boost your odds of infection. “They contain ingredients and chemicals that can dry out the vagina, making you feel irritated and increasing the risk that you develop tiny tears in your vagina that bacteria and viruses can enter through,” says Minkin. Keep your ladybits clean with just gentle soap and water.

Whipped and Chocolate Toppings

Turning your naked body into an ice cream sundae sounds sexy, except for the fact that whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and other sweet toppings are loaded with sugar, and introducing sugar into your vaginal area can mess with your pH levels and lead to a yeast infection, says Minkin. Play it safe by making your body an above-the-belly-button sundae.

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Hair Removal Cream

Often the chemicals in cream or lotion depilatories are harsh, resulting in tiny abrasions that leave your vaginal area open to infection, says Minkin. Another danger is an allergic reaction, leaving you with red bumps and killer itching. Even though shaving tends to leave you with a slight rash or sensitivity for a day or so, it’s safer than a chemical depilatory . . . as long as you don’t use it past your outer labia.

RELATED: The Low Down on Down-There Grooming

Down-There Body Art

Remember the vajazzling fad? So do ob-gyns, who noticed an uptick in infection and irritation rates among patients who had these small crystals or rhinestones affixed with glue to their totally bare private parts. Another decoration danger: a below-the-belt tattoo. Getting inked anywhere on your body can trigger redness and irritation, but bikini-area skin is so delicate, a tattoo here poses a bigger health risk, says Minkin. Even temporary tattoos contain dye that can inflame the vaginal area.

Anything With a Scent

The perfumes used to give a specific scent to some types of toilet paper, novelty condoms, tampons, even soaps and body washes contain additives that leave some women with itching, inflammation, and rashes on or around the vagina, says Minkin. “Not all women have problems with these, but it’s probably better to stay away from them then find out the hard way that they cause a bad reaction on your skin,” she says.

Vodka Tampons

We were hoping this was just an urban myth, but apparently there have been cases of women inserting tampons soaked in alcohol into their vaginas. The point is to get a buzz once the booze is absorbed into the bloodstream. But aside from the fact that this practice has to be crazy painful, it’s a terrible idea that can damage the vaginal walls, says Minkin. 

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