Oh my GOD.
Before we get to the science, such as it is, let’s talk about the smell. Your grandmother’s house. A sick-bed. Moth balls. That is the smell of Vicks VapoRub and if that makes anyone think sexy time or refreshing then I can think of nothing to say but what the actual fuck?
For what I am sure is the 100th time the vagina needs no cleaning and the vulva needs very little. I know the array of useless feminine washes and wipes at the drugstore and the drivel spouted by Gwyneth Paltrow via GOOP imply otherwise, but I’m the actual expert.
What is in Vick’s VapoRub? OK I had to look. I was pretty right on with the smell it has camphor, menthol, nutmeg oil, thymol, eucalyptus oil, turpentine oil and cedar leaf oil.
Camphor, turpentine oil, and menthol can be counter irritants. For example the cooling sensation of menthol on the skin can reduce itch. Counter irritants often produce unpleasant sensations, basically you are replacing one unpleasant sensation with another one that is less unpleasant. A normal vagina or vulva should have no unpleasant sensations. It is not uncommon to see vaginal reactions to counter irritants placed on the vulva as the mucosa (inside the vagina) is more sensitive to irritants. It is very hard to apply something on the vulva and have it not seep into the vagina.
At this point I wonder if people are just saying they are doing weird vagina stuff to be Instagram famous for 30 seconds and get an interview in the Daily Mail something along the lines of, “Doctor rages about harms of vaginal Vicks VapoRub but this gal says it leaves her bits tingly fresh.”
I once dated a guy who insinuated my vagina did not smell right. He was an ass in other ways too, but I just didn’t see it until he impugned my vagina. For example, he though my hair would be better if it were straight. Sadly I took the bait, it wasn’t. He thought I would look better if I dressed a certain way. Again I took the bait. I just felt worse. When it came around to telling me how my vagina could be better it finally clicked that this is a form of control that men often use. Fortunately I am an appropriately confident vagina expert and I had a light bulb moment and dumped his sorry ass. I realize this may border on TMI, but honestly if it happened to me I bet it has happened to other women. The continued proliferation of the what will they insert next, the products on drug store shelves, and the interest in these posts tells me that I’m probably right.
If you think you have a medical condition, see a doctor. If your partner insinuates that an artificial smell is preferable to the smell of a normal vagina they are the one who has an issue. Telling women how they can be better is a classic way of tapping into body image issues and honestly in my personal opinion it is a form of abuse.
Apparently this is becoming quite a triggering post for the #notallmen movement.
Bethany Black made this great point on Twitter, “Hey, guys, “The patriarchy” isn’t you. It’s what makes you feel the need to point out it’s not you.”
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