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Remember that scene in Broad City when Ilana sees police officers in the subway station, so she stashes her weed in her vagina? She dubs it “nature’s pocket” and it turns out she’s not the only one using this pocket in unexpected ways and putting questionable, non-approved items in her vagina. And no, we’re not just talking about creative household sex toys.
People with vaginas have attempted to smuggle or hide loaded pistols, Rolex watches, marijuana pipes, crack, lighters, money, cellphones, cigarettes, makeup, fireworks (yes, really), alcohol, and a host of other drugs and stolen items in their vag. Of course, few people would actually consider inserting things like loaded guns and fireworks inside their vaginas. (In case there’s any confusion — please don’t.) But sometimes, in an attempt to make things more interesting in the bedroom, some do make questionable decisions about what actually goes in there.
Sure, your vagina can stretch and accommodate quite a few things, but being able to do it doesn’t mean you should. “When considering what is safe to put in the vagina, it’s important to remember that the vagina is a delicate and sensitive part of the body,” Dr. Rakhee Patel, a board-certified OB-GYN with Pinewood Family Care Co. Shape, size, and cleanliness of the object are all things to consider here, because sticking the wrong thing in there can result in a host of health issues, from major injuries and tears in your vaginal canal to infections and irritation… not to speak of the embarrassment at your OB-GYN’s office.
Turns out, the list of approved things to put in your vagina is short and easy to remember.
Penises are totally allowed to enter mouths, vaginas and buttholes. Just remember to put a condom on it to avoid STIs and unwanted pregnancies. A note: Flavored condoms should only be used for oral sex, as the flavor chemicals can irritate your vaginal lining.
Fingers (attached to hands, of course!) also feel pretty good. As long as the person’s nails are trimmed short with sharp corners filed away and kept clean, digits are a good time. You can improve your safe sex practices by washing your hands beforehand (or wearing latex gloves!) and adding lube.
Speaking of lube, there are still lots of myths about lubricants. Oil-based lubes are actually OK, according to Lilly (who goes only by her first time), a sex toy expert and blogger at Dangerous Lilly.
“Synthetic oil-based lubes have been proven to cause vaginal infections in some, but there is much less chance for an interaction when a natural oil is used,” she tells SheKnows. “They shouldn’t be used by anyone relying on latex or polyisoprene condoms for STI and pregnancy protection, though.”
She adds that silicon-based lubricants are actually safe to use and that contrary to popular belief, “many water-based lubes are incompatible with vaginal pH or have irritating ingredients that make some folks more susceptible to vaginal infections and can increase STI transmission.” Note that silicon-based lube shouldn’t be used with silicone sex toys, though, as it can make the toys degrade. You should also avoid using lubes with sugars in them (like scented lubes), as they can also mess with your pH and lead to infection.
A good rule of thumb is that if an item was “designed specifically for vaginal use,” you can generally assume it’s safe, Patel says. That includes lubes (see above) and period products that go directly in your vagina, such as tampons and menstrual cups or discs. “These items are made with materials and ingredients that are tested for vaginal safety,” Patel explains.
Sex toy materials are a complex and wide-ranging topic, but in short, the safest materials are the ones that are considered chemically stable and don’t harbor bacteria and fungi in the pores, Lilly says. This includes silicone, body-safe metal alloys like titanium, aluminum blends, stainless steel, glass and properly sealed ceramic and wood. You also want to make sure you’re cleaning your sex toys (here’s a guide from Lilly) and replacing them if they start looking a little worse for the wear.
There are actually no regulations for sex toy materials, so be wary of claims of “FDA-approved” toys, Lilly notes. Shopping at reputable stores and reading reviews from trustworthy bloggers will help you make good sex toy choices.
Our personal recommendation: anything from celebrity-loved brand LELO, which is known for beautiful and powerful sexual instruments. Their Soraya Wave rabbit vibrator targets both your G-spot and clitoris, has an ergonomic design, and is made of safe and soft silicone.
According to Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, board-certified OB-GYN and gynecology professor at Columbia University, your main concern when considering items other than penises, fingers, period products, and sex toys is using objects with a smooth, nonporous surface, no sharp edges, no irritants, and nothing that would degrade a condom.
“You want to make sure that whatever you put in, you can completely take out,” she tells SheKnows. “That’s why most food is a problem: It’s difficult to remove it. Peeled bananas, for example.” Other foods to avoid include spicy foods like chili peppers and spreadables like peanut butter. Be aware as well that putting food items in your vagina can “cause infections and irritations,” Patel says.
If you are into temperature play (using hot or cold objects as part of the sexual experience), avoid putting ice directly into your vagina, as it can stick to your delicate skin. Instead, cover it with a condom to create a barrier. Very hot surfaces can also cause damage because “the [vaginal] lining is very delicate and can easily be burned,” Hutcherson adds.
The safest way to play with your food is to put a condom on it. That way, you avoid risks attached to bacteria, irritation or pH imbalances. As long as the item is big enough to be removed, has no sharp or uncomfortable edges, and is not easily breakable (like a large cucumber or squash), you should be fine.
Douching or using harsh, scented soaps or vaginal washes are a no-go in your vagina, Patel says, because they can “can disrupt the natural pH and bacterial balance, leading to infections or irritation.” Fun fact: your vagina is self-cleaning, so you really don’t need any extra products down there to do it for you.
Beyond that, remember that any product not specifically designed to go in your vagina really isn’t meant to be in there — so if you’re planning on experimenting with zucchinis in bed, you’ll want to take precautions. And in general, Patel recommends being cautious with what you put in your vagina and prioritizing products specifically designed for vaginal health. “Always read labels and instructions, and when in doubt, consult with a healthcare professional,” she says. “Remember, each person is different, so what works for one might not work for another. It’s essential to listen to your body and seek professional advice if you have concerns or experience discomfort.”
A version of this article was originally published in June 2019.
Want more approved sex toys? Here’s our list of favorites: