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Leave it to TikTok to introduce us to potentially one of the most confusing yet brilliant (?) sexual wellness products we've ever heard of—a cum sponge. We came across a video of an employee from the sexual wellness company Awkward Essentials (how fitting) briefly explaining and demonstrating a cum sponge, which pretty much looks like a tampon on a stick and is supposed to clean up excess semen in the vaginal canal.
Since the video was posted on May 2021, it's amassed over two million views and over 36 thousand comments because, of course, it did. Along with the hundreds of thousands of commenters on the video, we have so many questions, like is it safe and how does it work? To answer all of our questions, we tapped Frances Tang, founder of Awkward Essentials and a gynecologist to learn all about the viral cum sponge and whether it's something worth trying.
What is a dripstick?
A dripstick, the actual name of the viral cum sponge on TikTok, is a medical-grade sponge that you insert into the vagina after sex to absorb and remove excess semen. Tang created the tool to make sex clean-up easier and save her underwear from getting ruined by leftover semen.
"I'm married, and I always hated the sex clean-up ritual," she says. "The crossed-leg-ninja roll off the bed, penguin walk to the bathroom, and camp out on the toilet was not the business." Funny enough, the creation of the famous cum sponge was the product of this hatred and Tang's baking career.
"There is a common kitchen tool called a rubber spatula, and you use it to scrape all the last bits of cake batter out of a bowl (you see, where this is going?)," she says. "So, every time I would scrape the batter out of a bowl, I'd think about inventing a spatula to get all the last bits of goo out of my vagina. In short, the idea for dripstick started at the intersection of baking and laziness."
- 25.00 Available at Awkward Essentials
How to use a dripstick?
The dripstick comes with a handle for easy insertion and removal, says Tang. "You simply insert the product after sex, twirl it around, and slowly remove," she says. "If one didn't do the trick, you can use a secondary dripstick, but never the same one twice!" It's available in multiple pack sizes (a sample size, ten pack, 20 pack, and 69 pack) and ranges from $5 to $69.
It's recommended to only use the dripstick post-internal ejaculation, and when used correctly, she says, "you'll feel much less squishy and more comfortable." The use of a dripstick does not prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, or infections, and yes, you should still pee after sex.
Do you need to use a dripstick?
After speaking with Pennsylvania-based gynecologist, Dr. Kelly Copeland M.D., we learned that while the idea of a dripstick can be appealing, it isn't necessary. "The vagina is well equipped to deal with the normal excess from sex," she says. "There may be people who want to remove it for comfort, but it's not a necessity."
According to Dr. Copeland, the potential risks of using a dripstick is the possibility of micro-abrasions and disruptions of the vaginal microbiome. "The sponge could lead to microabrasions of the vaginal canal (if not correctly used), which could make contraction of certain STI's higher risk when having unprotected sex," she says. "There is also a risk that the sponge could disrupt the normal microbiome of the vagina, which can lead to bacterial vaginitis or yeast infections."
On the other hand, Dr. Copeland explains that someone with a vagina can feel irritated post internal ejaculation. "[The dripstick] might be an alternative way to minimize ejaculation contact for those who want to skip a condom and have this concern," she says.
So, like all things in health, wellness, and sex, it's all about doing what feels best for you and if you're ever unsure, never hesitate to reach out to a doctor.