When I initially became part of The Hype family, we spent a lot of time working with young girls and young women in sexual health workshops. There were lots of things that the ladies said and shared that threw me for a loop; however, there were two things that were said that shocked and horrified me:
- If you douche with a Pepsi, you can’t get pregnant; and
- A guy can tell if a woman has an STD by pulling earwax from his ear and placing it on her genitals. If she doesn’t feel a “burn”, she is “clean”. If she does, she has a disease.
To both of these statements, my first inclination was to scream, “FAIL, FAIL, FAIL”! Then, my emotional compass immediately shifted to a cross between sadness and obligation. I felt sad because these statements made it clearer to me how and why STDS become so rampant (Did you know a recent study of Philadelphia High School students determined that nearly 20% of students had an STD?). I mean, if this kind of information is accepted as fact, it is no wonder why people aren’t making safer choices or choosing abstinence. On the other hand, I decided that it would be my personal commitment to maintain an open demeanor so that I might invite questions and free-flowing conversation from young people so that they have access to someone who might help dispel these twisted myths.
Let me be clear: douching is bad regardless of what you use, but douching with a Pepsi is really bad! Back in the day, the purpose of douching was supposed to be about hygiene. Birth control was never the objective! First, the vagina cleans itself by naturally maintaining a certain acid (pH) level and by ridding itself of what it doesn’t want via discharge. This process makes douching un-necessary. As a matter of fact, douching makes some vaginal issues worse. For example, a yeast infection (which is common as 3 out of 4 women get at least one yeast infection in their lifetimes) is worsened by douching because it disturbs the vagina’s natural chemical balance. Essentially, douching rinses away the efforts of the vagina and immune system to fix itself. Finally, if the body uses discharge to heal itself, be mindful that discharge is normal! Your objective should be to pay close enough attention to your body to know what it normal. Now, back to the Pepsi in particular. Consider all of the ingredients in a Pepsi, but sugar in particular. Sugar is a food source for bacteria, viruses and fungus (yeast is a fungus, by the way). Thus, when you douche with a Pepsi, you can make anything that is going wrong worse!
So, we’ve established that douching is bad for the va jay jay. Now, lets address douching for birth control purposes because some people may think, “I’ll take the risk of infection to avoid pregnancy”. Birth control douching is also a fail. Sperm swim pretty fast and could have already fertilized an egg by the time you get around to douching. Second, douching may actually push sperm toward the egg faster and help you become pregnant!
Now, about this ear wax. First of all, ladies, if you let a guy put earwax on or in your vagina, I want to make you a victim of shaken baby syndrome! Aside from the fact that earwax is disgusting (yes, it has a purpose FOR YOUR EARS, but it is still nasty), it is totally useless for detecting sexually transmitted diseases! The reality is that the only way you’re going to know whether a woman has an STD is to get tested. Because vaginal discharge can change depending on a woman’s stress levels, present sexual arousal, diet, whether she’s recently had a period, etc., discharge can’t be taken as a tell-tale of disease. Moreover, some women have no discharge at all when they have STDs. The same is true for men: some of them have discharge and some of them don’t. Additionally, if they have other health issues, they may not have discharge. Essentially, if you’re having sex, you should get tested regularly and before engaging with each new partner. Here are two other issues you should consider about STDs. First, even if you ask the person whether they have a disease, s/he might lie. You also have to consider that s/he may not know that a disease is present because people don’t always have symptoms. Therefore, you should always use condoms. Second, there is no such thing as safe sex! Notice, I said, “use condoms”. I did not say, “practice safe sex”. There are some diseases that are spread through bodily fluids like sperm and vaginal secretions. Condoms will catch sperm; however, vaginal secretions can still come into contact with the genital skin. Don’t forget, condoms can also break. Finally, there are diseases, like herpes, that are passed through skin to skin contact even when there are no symptoms present.
Ultimately, be careful with your body and make sure you think through the risks because there are always risks….AND STOP PUTTING STUFF IN THERE!