The Below-the-Belt War on Women (aka Why You Should Stop Buying “Feminine Washes”)

Sitting in my boyfriend’s dormitory bathroom yesterday, my eyes struck something truly horrid. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the less-than-maintained toilet bowl in exactly the condition you may expect of average college-aged men… It was much worse.

It was a bottle of Vagisil pH Balance Wash belonging to his roommate’s girlfriend.



“Helps fortify natural defenses” my ass. And pH Balance? As in not using this wash will leave your vagina unbalanced? Hardly.

My boyfriend and I have spent at least a combined 20 minutes ranting to one another about the nonsense written on this package.

“Did you know that your period, menopause, having sex, even some daily cleansers can disrupt your vaginal balance?” 

Ha! The most cringeworthy part of this statement is how it reads that “some daily cleansers”, i.e. exactly what this product is, “can disrupt your vaginal balance”. Your period, menopause, and having sex are all natural processes for which your vagina is probably perfectly prepared as far as “balance” goes, with the exception of a lessening of natural vaginal lubrication for menopausal women due to their changes in estrogen levels, and I seriously doubt anything contained in this bottle of marketing sludge will make any difference for the better.

“Only Vagisil pH Balance Wash has LactoPrebiotic. Use it every day to help maintain a healthy pH balance.” 

Googling “LactoPrebiotic” brings up only Vagisil-pushing articles for the first ten results. (I stopped looking after the first page.) Sounds like a made-up, pseudo-medical fluff term to me, like when lotion commercials talk about “anti-aging technologies”.

“And a balanced pH is an important step towards good intimate health.”

Again, vaginas tend to regulate themselves. Unless you’re battling an infection of some kind from an introduced substance (like, say, “feminine wash”), your vagina is likely to be “balanced” and perfectly healthy as-is.

“Directions: For external use only.”

For external use only — as in not to be used IN your actual vagina. But wait a minute! The label says that you need to balance the pH of your vagina! And yet this wash is, according to the same label, only to be used outside of your vulva? HMMM, THAT’S FISHY.

Now let’s check out the ingredients. I ran the list on Skindeep’s “Build Your Own Report” feature. Here’s what came up:

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Notice that this includes both fragrance and dye, two types of ingredients which should NEVER be introduced to the super absorbent mucosal membranes in and around the vagina and vulva. Also of note is that ingredient DMDM hydantoin is a formaldehyde releaser. Admittedly, I was surprised to see that about half of the remaining ingredients are either benign or have not been sufficiently researched to identify their hazardousness. The only ingredient in this muck which you would benefit from using in and around your ladyparts is water.

The cherry on top of this less-than-charming product?

“Vagisil is a proud sponsor of the Half the Sky Movement – supporting women and girls worldwide… Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.”

Supporting them with what, cancer?  ‘Scuse me while I go answer that hypocrisy alarm I hear ringing in my brain. If Vagisil actually wanted to give a damn and turn “oppression into opportunity”, let’s start with not making products aimed to create problems out of non-problems for women who have better things to do than waste time, energy, and money washing body parts which naturally clean themselves — not to mention any care needed to treat infections and cancers to which “feminine washes” potentially contribute.


As a side note, check out these other scores. Skindeep’s current database at this time I wrote this post contained just two Vagisil products. Skindeep ranks products on a 0 (least toxic) to 10 (most toxic) scale, and it’s not surprising that both received an extensively unhealthy score.

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7 thoughts on “The Below-the-Belt War on Women (aka Why You Should Stop Buying “Feminine Washes”)

  1. Very interesting article. I use this soap twice daily and I read the bottle earlier today & was curious what Lactoprobiotics were and stumbled across your article. Unfortunately for me, my body is not good at regulating itself and causes me to constantly get BV (Bacterial Vaginosis), which is caused by an imbalance in that area where my PH is never normal for no reason. I cannot lie, though this article made me afraid to use it, I don’t think I can stop because ever since I began to regularly use this soap, I haven’t had to make any problem-appointments to my gyne in two years now! If I had a better cure, I’d definitely be open to trying it and stop using this soap!


    1. Thanks very much for reading and for your comment! Your circumstances raise an intriguing point, that I would be less offended by “washes” like these if they didn’t contain artificial fragrances, dyes, and other harmful chemicals that shouldn’t be put in any genital-region products. If I may ask, were there other remedies you tried that were less effective? My current favorite unscented soap is by Dr. Bronner (found at Whole Foods, Amazon, and more recently Target as well, in a clear bottle with a light blue label). I’d be curious how something like that, with better quality ingredients, would affect someone with BV, relative to products marketed as vaginal washes. Looks like I have more reading to do about vaginal pH levels as well. 🙂


    1. Thanks for your comment, Mary! I’m glad that this product is meeting your needs. My father has also echoed the same sentiment as you about chemical abundance, and I agree, in general. My chief complaint with this product, however, is the deliberate deception of unaware consumers for profit. It’s exploitation. People who choose to smoke cigarettes despite the known health risks are free to do so, but they’re aware of those risks, and there is a warning printed on the packaging. Personal care products containing artificial fragrances, dyes, hormone influencers, potential carcinogens, etc., that have direct contact with genitals don’t contain any warnings about known irritation, infection, and/or worse effects, so those consumers don’t make the same educated choices. Are people responsible for doing their own homework before buying things? Of course. But the made up pseudo-scientific terms here are particularly insulting to me and are clearly a marketing ploy designed to prey upon consumers. I would be extremely surprised – and disappointed – to hear of any reputable gynecologist recommending this type of product for use anywhere near vulvas.


  2. Thank you so much, for writing this article and smashing this company’s lies. I hope more women read this.
    I Googled “lactoprebiotic,” that’s how I got to your article. Searching for the meaning of a non existing word.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I can hardly express how infuriated I am that companies are profiting off of poisoning us with lies about our genital “health”.


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