“Sometimes you need to show your v-jay some TLC to keep her healthy and happy,” writes Khloé Kardashian in a recent post on her site. The reality star goes on to suggest a handful of ways to do just that, from using a soothing gel on your bikini line to vajacials (you know, vagina facials).
One of the recs on Khloé’s list: a product called GoodWipes, for when you need “a little touch-up on the go.” According to the manufacturer, these flushable, lavender-scented wipes prevent “unpleasant” odors, and get rid of unwanted bacteria down below. The company also says the wipes are safe for those with sensitive skin.
But do your lady parts really need cleansing wipes?
Absolutely not, says Chicago-based gynecologist Lauren Streicher, MD, an associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine
“First of all, these wipes are for your vulva, not your vagina, which is on the inside,” says Dr. Streicher, who’s also the author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever. If you’re noticing a vaginal odor, it’s most likely because there’s an overgrowth of bacteria in the body due to a pH imbalance. “You can wipe as much as you want, but that’s not going to change what’s happening inside the body,” she says.
If it’s actually your vulva that’s emitting an odor—from residual urine, for example, or sweat—rinsing with plain water should be all you need to do, she says. (And remember: Some odor down there is normal. Your vagina isn’t supposed to smell like lavender.)
Using wipes can also cause some uncomfortable side effects. “Cleansing wipes and washes are at best useless, but often harmful,” Jen Gunter, MD, an ob-gyn based in San Francisco, told Health via email. They can lead to irritation, such as redness and itching.
“Your vulva and vagina are a self-cleaning oven, and perpetuating this idea of additional cleaning is harmful and frankly the opposite of empowering,” says Dr. Gunter. “To say this means you think the area is ‘dirty.’ It’s not.”
Kardashian’s post does offer some valuable vagina advice. Another one of her tips is to use the Elvie, a fitness tracker for kegel exercises. Kegels involve contracting the muscles in the pelvic floor, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine, and rectum. Strengthening those muscles can help with bladder control and pregnancy recovery, and may lead to more intense orgasms too.
The Elvie is inserted into the vagina and syncs with a smartphone app, so users can keep tabs on their progress over time.(Fun fact: 2017 Oscar nominees received an Elvie in their gift bag.)
A fitness tracker for your vagina isn’t a bad idea, says Dr. Streicher. “Kegels on their own aren’t always useful because a lot of people do them incorrectly,” she explains. “There’s more research to be done on devices like the Elvie, as well as [others like] the PeriCoach and Apex, but their premise is sound and we can assume they’ll help to exercise the pelvic floor.”