What A Gyno *Really* Thinks About Those Vaginal Health Hacks on TikTok
Vaginal health hacks seem to be everywhere on TikTok, but are any of them actually true? We spoke to an OB-GYN to get her honest thoughts on these viral videos.
Thanks to the “no gatekeeping” trend on TikTok, people are revealing all of their best-kept secrets: from their holy-grail foundation to their favorite under-the-radar brunch spots to their go-to workouts (like the viral 12-3-30 treadmill workout). But with this information sharing comes risks—especially when vaginal health advice is involved.
In fact, turning to TikTok for those vaginal health hacks could do more harm than good. “When looking to TikTok for vaginal health care, tips, and advice, there can be an increased risk of delayed diagnosis or infections,” explains Monica Grover, MD, chief medical officer at VSPOT and double-board certified OB-GYN. We spoke to Dr. Grover to get her thoughts on all of the most popular health hacks trending on TikTok. Read on to see her take.
Popular Vaginal Health Hacks on TikTok
1. Skip Probiotics—Just Eat Yogurt Instead
Many TikTok users claim probiotic supplements are a waste of money and that you can get the same benefit simply by eating yogurt. But Dr. Grover says this isn’t the case at all. “Probiotics are actually very beneficial as long as they are the right active probiotics,” she says. “Many times, yogurt has added unnecessary sugar, which can result in frequent yeast infections.” Looking to stock up on supplements for vaginal health? Try HUM Nutrition’s Private Party, which contains three strains of probiotics and cranberry proanthocyanidins (PACs) to help balance the vaginal microbiome and support a healthy urinary tract. Wondering if probiotics can help make you wetter for sex? They could potentially, as they help restore a healthy balance of bacteria and pH (which could help prevent dryness).
2. Drink Cranberry Juice to Prevent Bacteria From Sticking to Your Bladder Wall
You know the saying: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Dr. Grover says the science behind this piece of advice is mixed and inconclusive. “A-type proanthocyanidins are found to prevent E.coli and other bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall,” she says. “Although cranberries do have this, the concentration of it is not enough to consistently ward off the bacteria.” If you’re struggling with bacterial infections, visit a gynecologist to get to the root cause and clear it up ASAP.
3. Slippery Elm Bark Increases Vaginal Lubrication
Social media users everywhere are using slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) for vaginal dryness, claiming it helps with lubrication. “Slippery elm bark is thought to increase mucilage tissues in our bodies, including vaginal tissue,” Dr. Grover says. “However, this is known as a supplement in alternative medicine, and there has been no sound data on this as a remedy nor been found to be of a beneficial supplement by the FDA.”
If you’re interested in trying this health hack, consult your doctor before to make sure your supplements come from good sources. Additionally, proceed with caution if you take medications. Slippery elm can coat your stomach and interfere with nutrient absorption, which is why it’s important to speak to your doctor about taking this supplement. To be safe, take any slippery elm bark supplements two hours before or after your other medications, per Mount Sinai.
4. Insert Boric Acid Suppositories to Help Restore an Acidic pH Level
Beware: Dr. Grover says that using boric acid for vaginal health is a total myth—and a harmful one at that. “Boric acid will completely wipe away any bacteria, good or bad, and then alter the pH and make a woman more susceptible to future vaginal infections,” she says. “It is a short-term solution for immediate relief, but not a very practical one against chronic infections.” Wondering if those claims about boric acid making your vagina taste better are true? They are not—boric acid will not improve vaginal taste or smell (unless you’re using it under a doctor’s order to treat an infection).
5. Douche Your Vagina to Cleanse It Thoroughly
Maybe you’ve heard that douching isn’t great, but you’re still wondering if you should try it. Let Dr. Grover put your curiosity to rest: Douching will only backfire and worsen vaginal health. The process disturbs the natural bacteria in your vagina, which can lead to yeast infections or even bacterial vaginosis (BV). “Your vagina is self-cleaning—it doesn’t need any kind of cleaning,” she says. “If you would like to clean your vulvar area, soap/water or a pH-balanced wash works great.” And if you’re trying to clean your vagina due to odor or irritation, consult a doctor to get it safely cleared up.
6. Eat Raw Garlic Every Day to Clear Up Infections, Improve Sex Drive, and Stop Intercourse From Hurting
While there is some truth to this vagina health hack, Dr. Grover says to proceed with caution. “Garlic is considered a prebiotic, so it can help with a desirable pH to ward off infections,” she says. But when it comes to the other claims (improving sex drive and making sex less painful), she says there’s no conclusive evidence to back this up. “If you are experiencing painful sex, it is more likely due to thinning tissue and collagen reduction in the vaginal canal,” she explains. That’s where your doctor can help—they offer non-invasive solutions for issues such as painful sex.
7. Insert Garlic Into Your Vagina As a Natural Antifungal
Step away from the garlic. This viral vaginal health hack is a complete myth, Dr. Grover says. “Garlic contains allicin (an anti-fungal), but inserting a clove of garlic in the vaginal canal may do more harm than good,” she explains. “There are other bacteria and biofilms on the clove itself that are now being introduced into the vaginal canal, which can cause potential infections that may be very difficult to treat.”
8. Insert a Peeled Cucumber Into Your Vagina to Clean It
Here’s the deal: Inserting any kind of food into your vagina isn’t a great idea. In fact, sticking foods into the cavity could result in even more issues down the road. “Using a cucumber to clean the vagina is potentially very harmful, could cause an infection, and should be avoided,” Dr. Grover says. “Your vagina is self-cleaning, and a cucumber could interfere with your pH balance and good bacteria.”
9. Steam Your Vagina For a Deep Clean
Dr. Grover notes that Eastern and Western medicine practices have differing opinions on this, but the main takeaway is this: Your vagina cleans itself, so vagina steaming isn’t particularly necessary—but there are some benefits to it. “Steaming does open up vulvar skin pores, relax the uterine muscle, and help with premenstrual cramping and painful menses,” Dr. Grover says. “The biggest concern is if the temperature is too hot and results in burns.” If you’d like to try vaginal steaming, seek out the help of a professional who will ensure it’s safely done and provides an actual therapeutic effect.
10. Drink Dandelion Tea to Regulate Hormone Production, Prevent Yeast Infections, and Restore Vaginal Lubrication
Another miracle cure-all that’s trending on TikTok is drinking dandelion tea for vaginal health. Social media users claim drinking this tea daily can help with a myriad of concerns—from regulating hormones to preventing yeast infections to improving vaginal lubrication. But is it true? Not exactly. “These claims are based upon holistic and naturopathic medicine with very limited data,” Dr. Grover says. If you’re struggling with hormones, yeast infections, or vaginal dryness, seek out the help of a professional.
11. Never, Ever Wear Thongs
One of TikTok’s favorite vaginal health hacks? Throw out all of your thongs—and never return to them again. But Dr. Grover says you don’t have to get rid of your thongs if you really don’t want to. “There is nothing wrong with wearing thongs,” Dr. Grover says. “There is no increased risk in vaginal infections nor UTIs.” But she recommends opting for cotton thongs or thongs with a cotton lining, as it promotes breathability.
12. Eat “Vagina-Cleaning” Foods to Keep It Fresh
TikTok claims cranberries, citrus fruits, and leafy greens are “vagina-cleaning” foods that will help to keep things fresh down there. This health hack is partly true: Your diet can help support a healthy vagina, but the vagina is self-cleaning and keeps itself fresh. Still, if you’re looking to eat more foods for vaginal health, cranberries, citrus fruits, and leafy greens are a great place to start. “Citrus fruits have vitamin C, which is important for overall immunity against infections, whereas cranberries may help to ward off UTIs, and leafy greens help to maintain a healthy pH,” Dr. Grover says.
13. Drink at Least 6 Cups of Water a Day to Increase Vaginal Lubrication
One vaginal health hack that actually will improve vaginal health? Drinking enough water. “The moisture in your body comes from the water contained in your blood and circulating around your body,” Dr. Grover says. “Staying very well hydrated can help ensure that all areas of your body, including your vagina, can extract all the fluid needed to keep everything moisturized.” If you’re experiencing issues with lubrication, make sure you’re drinking enough water. Dehydration can cause vaginal dryness, which, if left untreated, can lead to pain, itching, or burning. If you’re showing signs of dehydration (think: dry skin on your face), you’re likely not drinking enough water to help with your vaginal moisture levels.