A brief history of vaginal douching, and why women used disinfectants as a contraceptive
According to a market research report published by Technavio, the ‘vaginal odour’ business is expected to increase by five per cent every year for the next five years, which will translate to an annual incremental growth of $1,000,000 [£764,000].
Business may be booming, but it stinks. Have you ever wondered why the vulva requires a multi-billion-dollar industry and a range of specialist cleaning equipment to stay match fit when the penis can make do with a swill in the sink? Supermarkets do not stock peen clean, bollock balm, or scrotal soap, and yet ‘feminine hygiene’ products can fill an aisle.
Dr Jennifer Gunter, gynaecologist and author of ‘The Vagina Bible’, campaigns tirelessly to dismantle myths around vulval health. When she’s not shining a light on jade love eggs, she’s calling out the quacks who believe the vagina needs steam cleaning. “The myth of the dirty vagina or rogue uterus has been around since the time of Hippocrates,” she explains. “Medicine knows the vagina does not need cleaning or steaming, but patriarchal tropes are effective. As is scaring women about their normal, healthy vulvas and vaginas.” Sadly, there is a lot of money to be made by convincing women they stink, and the ‘vaginal odour business’ has a very long history indeed.