The vagina vitamins ain’t it and tbh we’re not that surprised.
When reality star-turned-vitamin expert (ahem) Kourtney Kardashian released her ‘vaginal health gummies’ in February, a lot of eyes rolled. I mean, c’mon – a chewy treat to “give your vagina the sweet treat it deserves (and turn it into a sweet treat)”? Yikes. There are plenty of ways to take care of your vulva and vagina, and popping gummies? It ain’t on the list.
But in case you were still on the fence about Kourt’s whole fresh-fanny-in-a-bottle sell, a researcher specialising in the role of vaginal microflora for women’s health has taken a closer look at Lemme Purr’s ingredients and claims. Associate Professor Ina Schuppe, of the Karolinska Institutet, is as into vaginal health as we are (and we’re pretty into it, tbh). And she has a few things to say…
According to the Lemme Purr product description, the gummies contain “a clinically tested probiotic (Bacillus coagulans)… [which] has been shown in clinical studies to support vaginal health, freshness and odour”, Schuppe shared with The Conversation. “This surprised me – I should know about these studies and effects as this is my primary research field.
“A healthy vaginal microflora is composed of lactobacilli that keep the pH low and protect us from infections. My colleagues and I never identified Bacillus coagulans as being important for the health of vaginas, even though we have analysed thousands of samples during recent years. From other research groups and our own results, we know that Lactobacillus crispatus is the species that is associated with vaginal health and female fertility.”
But of course, a good scientist knows to keep digging. So Schuppe did aaand… still, those claims came up wanting. When she dived deeper into the research around the particular strain of lactobacilli that Lemme Purr touts, she found one single, lonesome study about its correlation with vaginal health. “There, 70 women with vaginal discomfort reported symptom relief after direct vaginal administration of the probiotic,” Schuppe writes.
“There is nothing published on the oral administration of the probiotic that could support the claims made by Kourtney.”
Again I say: yikes.
Lemme Purr also contains pineapple extract (“probably for its taste”, says Schuppe) and vitamin C (“not really needed if you have a balanced diet”) and, according to their website, promises to “support vaginal odour and freshness”. But the thing is, if you’re eating a balanced diet and looking after your lady bits, freshness shouldn’t be an issue. And if you notice a funky smell? Then it’s off to the GP with you!
Vaginas are just fine, thanks
The idea that vaginas need to be ‘fixed’ or made ‘better’ is, in itself, wildly problematic. People with vulvas and vaginas have been battling ideas and stereotypes around what our labias ‘should’ look like, smell like, taste like for long enough – now we’re being offered a ‘solution’ for something that was never a problem to begin with?
“Just like with the gut, the vagina has its own microbiome filled with different bacteria and yeast, many of which are incredibly helpful,” Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., tells Women’s Health. She’s a clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynaecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut – so she knows what she’s on about.
Adds Schuppe, “A healthy vagina has its unique odour based on the discharge that contains cells from the mucosal layer of the vaginal walls and the microbes that thrive there. It can be slightly acidic, because of the lactobacilli producing lactic acid, or have a distinctive metallic smell of blood during menses. Still, this individual odour is not unpleasant or something we have to be ashamed of. It is our personal signature that we do not have to hide.”
Put simply, while our vaginas deserve our love, they do not need any special care. “They are self-cleaning with a continuous discharge,” says Schuppe.
Oh and that whole pineapple-makes-it-taste-better line? Not a thing. “Sorry, but there is no shortcut of pineapple-derived sugars and fragrances to our vagina,” says Schuppe.
Ultimately, if you notice that your vaginal discharge has an abnormal smell, get advice from your GP or a gynaecologist (not a Kardashian).
Source @womenshealth.com.au: Read more at : womenalive.org