Dr. Jen Gunter on Vagina Myths You Seriously Need to Stop Believing
You may think calling out a $250-million wellness empire headed by Gwyneth Paltrow on its bullshit is a total power move. However, Dr. Jen Gunter is simply on a mission to shed light on the pervasive vagina myths and misinformation surrounding women’s health.
The Winnipeg-born, San Francisco-based OB/GYN, who specializes in vulvar and vaginal diseases, recently dropped her first book, The Vagina Bible, which provides fact-checked and medically backed information on anything and everything you need to know about, well, the vagina. “There is so much patriarchal messaging in everything surrounding the ‘dirty’ aspect of women’s bodies,” Gunter says over the phone. “And that’s because telling women they are dirty is profitable.” Needless to say, she touches on the harms of douches and wipes, the purpose of having hair down there and more.
Of course Gunter never intended on making a living by debunking pseudo-science and sensational health claims touted by celebs. That is, until she gave birth prematurely to her twin sons. Like anyone with access to a computer (hands up if you’ve ever gone down a WebMD rabbit hole), Gunter sought to educate herself by searching for information online only to be faced with pages of false claims and methods not backed by science. “I started to think, ‘If there’s that much misinformation about prematurity, then what the hell are MY patients reading about women’s health?’”
Here, Twitter’s resident OB/GYN (which she’s commonly referred to) shares some of the weirdest, yet most-common, vagina myths she hears on the reg.
Using Yogurt for BV
“A lot of people use yogurt in their vaginas [for bacterial vaginosis], and that’s not like .01 percent of people. I run a specialty vaginitis clinic and there are number of people who do this. But women don’t just come up with sticking random things up their vagina. There are sources online that are telling people to do it. What shocks me the most about all of this is how much modern wellness is actually just patriarchal myths repackaged to look feminist. It’s quasi feminism! It shocks me that people across the board believe that these wellness trends are empowering. Science can’t be trendy; it takes time to study things. You’re seeing words that weaponize the patriarchy, like “pure,” “natural,” and “clean,” and somehow that’s considered feminism? That’s what truly shocks me.”
“This is so bad on so many levels. That this idea of an ancient practice would be good, even if it even existed in ancient times, is another thing. I don’t want my food prepped ancient. I don’t eat my meat as it was prepared in the 1200s because I don’t want to die from E.coli! I don’t want to drive a vehicle from ancient times. So why would you tell people to steam their vaginas or that big pharma is evil? There are a lot of issues with the industry, don’t get me wrong, but they at least have to submit some studies to back up their claims. Here you have this wellness complex selling you a bunch of unproven shit, and somehow they’re not trying to profit, but big pharma is?”
“Why would you reduce part of your body that’s sexual? A part of the body that’s actually physically involved in the sexual response cycle? It’s not like your labia is an earlobe. It’s got a function, and you should know that. If you’re afraid of how you look in clothes because your labia are showing, first off: love your labial cleavage. It’s part of your body and that’s awesome. Second, nobody tells dudes they should have their asscracks sewn up when they show out of their jeans. Men don’t get the same messaging that women do.”