TikTok has blown up with all kinds of advice influencers over the last few years, with creators giving tips on everything from exercise and gardening to dating and travel. One area of TikTok that has been quite popular recently is “VaginaTok,” where creators- some, like real life OB/GYN @anniedeliversmd are licensed medical practitioners, most are not- offer tips, advice, and education on various aspects of vaginal health.
The upside of VaginaTok is that it sparks open conversation about topics like periods, sexual pleasure, and reproductive anatomy that used to be considered taboo. As schools in the U.S. often fall short when it comes to educating children and teenagers about sexual health, many people of all ages flock online to learn about sex education and medical advice. However, getting your health information from social media is always iffy, as there is no guarantee or screening for the validity. At the end of the day, it’s important to seek medically accurate sources such as a licensed physician or peer-reviewed study.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the top VaginaTok trends and see if they hold medical merit, or if they’re just a myth.
Vaginal splinting refers to a digital evacuation method of relieving constipation or incomplete evacuation (feeling like the bowel hasn’t been cleared) where the woman presses on the vaginal wall with her fingers to assist with evacuating stool out of the rectum. @ambriaalicewalterfield first popularized the trend in Feb 2021 (though her account is now private), and it quickly swept the internet, with various commenters sharing how they practice it as well.
Vaginal splinting is actually a fairly standard practice among women, with the University of Michigan’s medical blog estimating “that up to 30% of women use this technique to occasionally help with bowel movements.”
For women with pelvic floor dysfunction- common among those who have given birth- may find it difficult to have a bowel movement, as straining can weaken the pelvic floor and exacerbate issues like pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Although vaginal splinting is typically performed with fingers, you can also use a tampon to press against the back wall of the vagina if you are uncomfortable with using your fingers.
Our bodies naturally secrete pheromones that broadcast sexual attraction, and bodily secretions like vaginal discharge contain pheromones. So using vaginal secretions as perfume equals heightening your sexual attractiveness? This pseudoscientific chain of reasoning blew up last year with #vabbing all over TikTok and dubious claims of success attracting partners, such as @jewlieah’s viral video of vabbing at the gym.
However, the idea has been debunked as an empty trend. There isn’t any scientific research to back up the claim that using vaginal secretions as perfume can increase your odds of attracting a mate, and “vabbing” as a practice hasn’t been studied in a controlled environment. If you do decide to try it out, it’s important to keep hygiene and health in mind; make sure that your vaginal health is on point and you’re not spreading any bacteria or STIs. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after “harvesting” the vaginal fluid, and don’t do it if you know you have an STI.
Stopping Your Period With Ibuprofen
Cardi B first popularized this concept back in 2019 when she revealed in an interview that she drank a “special cocktail” of ibuprofen and gelatin to stop her period bleeding so she could have sex with her now-husband Offset. The trend re-circulated through TikTok last year, with hashtags like #periodstopper.
While ibuprofen may help with delaying or lightening periods, it isn’t designed to halt one entirely and there are no guarantees that it will work. The anti-inflammatory drug can be useful for lightening heavy flows, but if you’re looking to put off your next period, check out hormonal birth control options or other types of short-term medications.
Balancing Hormones With One Bowel Movement Per Day
One somewhat misinterpreted myth that became popular on TikTok was that bowel movements directly help to balance hormones. More specifically, that anybody with a uterus must have daily bowel movements in order to balance their hormones. Having regular bowel movements IS a sign that your hormones are balanced, and hormones can impact bowel movements- but it doesn’t work the other way around.
TikTok can sometimes be a place where people come together and discover that they’re not alone. @gabygabss’s viral video comparing labia to belly buttons- some of us have outies, and some of us have innies- celebrates all shapes and sizes of vulva, because that’s how they come! There’s nothing shameful or unattractive about having “outie” labia, just like having an “outie” belly button!
Meta: TikTok offers a variety of medically accurate and inaccurate information regarding vaginal health and anatomy. What’s true and what’s not?