Here is how your trendy bath bombs are actually really bad news for your vagina
Who doesn't love a nice soak – especially on cold winter nights?
Seriously – give me half a chance, and I will fill my tub, light some candles, pop on a face mask and literally soak away until my tows start to crinkle and the water starts to freeze over.
Baths are the ultimate self-care indulgence if you ask me.
And I am not shy when it comes to making it super extra too. As in – gimme all the bubbles and salts and bath bombs I can lay my hands on.
However – when it comes to bath bombs, a midwife friend of mine recently informed me that these can actually be pretty bad news for our private parts. Yup – much as bath bombs look cute and smell wonderful and make bath time seem extra luxurious, these colourful dissolvable balls are really not all that great for our vaginas.
The problem is that bath bombs are often filled with chemical fragrances and toxins, which means they can disrupt the delicate balance of your vaginal pH levels, leaving the sensitive mucus membrane of the vagina more vulnerable and prone to things like yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis.
According to WebMD, a healthy and normal vaginal pH level is typically between 3.8 and 4.5, and normal vaginal pH levels help keep infection-causing pathogens away.
And just like we are not meant to be using soap 'up there' as the vagina is a self-cleaning organ that maintains its own ecosystem, the same goes for bath bombs. External agents like chemicals and fragrances can easily disturb the vaginal flora and should really be kept away from this oh-so-sensitive area
However, the good news is that bath bombs are not going to be problematic for everyone – but it is still a good idea to make sure the ones you use are as 'clean' as possible.
"Some women can use any bath bomb without issue," explains Alyssa Dweck, an ob-gyn and sexual and reproductive health expert, to Shape.com.
"But not everyone will be so lucky. "Many others are sensitive and will have increased risk of vaginal infection, urethral irritation, and UTI or vulvar skin irritation (vulvitis) due to the ingredients."
So, if you're already prone to irritation, yeast infections, UTIs, or bacterial vaginosis, here are some of the ingredients Dweck says you might want to avoid:
- Heavy fragrance or dyes: These chemicals can lead to irritation and pH imbalances within the vagina. This can cause discomfort or even bacterial vaginosis. They often appear as "fragrance" or things like "Blue 2" or "Red 4" in ingredient lists.
- Talc: Talc has a possible link to ovarian cancer, so it is best to steer clear, just in case.
- Parabens and phthalates: Dweck described these as endocrine disruptors, meaning they can interfere with your hormonal functions. Many endocrine disruptors are also hazardous for the environment, so overall it's best to avoid them in any personal hygiene or beauty product.
- Glycerin: Glycerin, a common ingredient in beauty products, breaks down into sugar. While, as a humectant, it's great to seal in moisture for dry skin, glycerin near your vagina can lead to an increased risk of bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections because some bacteria and yeast feed off of sugar, and introducing it to the area can least to yeast overgrowth.
- Glitter: It may also be a good idea to avoid bath bombs with glitter. Glitter is hard to clean off of anything (including skin) and may scratch the skin of your vagina. Ouch!
And just like with makeup and skincare, keep in mind that many brands that claim to be 'clean' and 'natural' still put these ingredients in their products, so get into the habit of always checking the ingredient list before you buy.