Gynecologist speaks out on dangerous at-home abortion advice on TikTok: 'Let’s talk about this seriously'

·5 min read

Dr. Staci Tanouye is an In The Know wellness contributor. Follow her on Instagram and TikTok for more.

TikTok is chock-full of sexual health myths that are perpetuated as “real” or vetted information at an alarming scale — where do I even begin? 

The “kitty” cocktails meant to make you taste better during oral sex? The ice cube challenge? The “innie” vs. “outie” wars? The arguments over being “smooth” vs. “textured”? (Yes, down there.) The jello drinks or other mocktails meant to stop your period? The sunning of the perineum? The vaginal steaming, yoni pearls or herbal suppositories meant to tighten your vagina?

Or how about the dangerous home concoctions meant be a DIY abortion?

I could go on and on about the harmful nature of every one of these misconceptions, but for the sake of brevity, here are the top three sexual health myths that I’ve been asked about on TikTok. 

3. Insert X, Y or Z product to tighten your vagina

Please don’t do this. Period. Hard stop.

I have been asked about everything from yoni herbal balls wrapped in cheesecloth to alum suppositories. Please don’t try any of these. First of all, no product, when inserted vaginally, has been shown to “tighten” a vagina. And herbal concoctions like alum act like astringents or drying agents. It’s literally drying out the mucosa of your vaginal walls. This is the exact opposite of what you want to do for your vaginal health.

Not to mention the misogynistic idea that a tighter vagina is necessary for the pleasure of the partner (cue vomit emoji). Seeking ways to improve pleasure is something that should be mutual toward both partners, not pleasurable to one partner while risking harm to the other.

So, take this as your reminder that your vagina and your vulva are perfect as they are.

That leads me straight into the next point…

2. Various mocktails of different fruit juices can make you taste better during oral sex

I’ve seen it all: various combinations of pineapple juice, cranberry juice, lime juice and all kinds of other things can make your vulva taste better. Or better yet, just buy this flavored vaginal melt suppository for a quick flavor boost!

But pushing the idea that a vulva is supposed to taste like anything other than a vulva can be harmful and sets people up for unrealistic expectations, shame and embarrassment. Not to mention that inserting suppositories can alter the usually self-regulating vagina in a negative way.

We have to get away from the idea that vulvas and vaginas are dirty and that they need to taste like a piña colada in order to be appealing. The negative impact on our self-image is enough to hinder an actual pleasurable sexual experience. If someone is constantly self-conscious about how their vulva looks and tastes, how are they supposed to enjoy sex at all? We have to normalize normal bodies and, in turn, allow ourselves to fully lean into pleasure without the fake barriers that this messaging creates.

Did I forget to mention that this has also never been shown to actually work?

People are better off having a healthier diet all around to support vaginal health – better hydration status, more fruits, veggies and less topical irritants are all far more likely to maintain a healthy vulva than any juice.

And finally, the top spot for the number one sexual health myth I have seen on TikTok is…

1. The “deletus fetus” trend 

Yes, the trend of promoting various concoctions to induce a DIY home abortion has been dubbed “deletus fetus” or even “yeetus fetus.” It often involves a combination of large doses of ibuprofen, lemon, cinnamon, papaya and various herbs or teas.

Sometimes I don’t have any words for the things I see on TikTok, but let’s talk about this seriously for a second.

And yes, I understand why this trend was started. It was started for two reasons: 1. To mock the establishment trying to take away these rights, and 2. Out of fear that a person’s right to abortion would actually be taken away from them, specifically given the current Supreme Court and what is happening in Texas and across the country.

People are scared and are looking for desperate answers just in case they lose access to this crucial type of healthcare. This is a serious concern and hints at the harms of what eliminating legal abortion might lead to.

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But the reality is that we need to focus on real solutions such as advocacy, education and voting. Because in the end, trends like “deletus fetus” have the potential to cause real harm for a number of reasons. 

There will always be people taking this advice seriously, trying whatever they can do to avoid a situation that they don’t want to be in. And taking meds like ibuprofen in high doses can actually do harm to the kidneys or the stomach. Also, attempting such “at-home abortion methods” that won’t work only delays people from seeking real healthcare, which further decreases access and options.

Much of TikTok is lighthearted and fun, but we have to be careful with the messages that some trends send about sex, normal bodies and even abortion care. That’s why I’m here setting the record straight to keep everyone happy, confident and healthy.

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The post Gynecologist debunks three dangerous sexual health myths circulating on TikTok appeared first on In The Know.

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