You really do not need latex underwear to make your vagina smell better, but it exists

Women are told all the time that we are not good enough, whether it’s the way we might throw a ball or govern a country. But one of the possibly most harmful messages we get is that our vaginas are not good enough because of how they look or smell. This is why a lot of women grow up sort of ashamed of their vaginas and spend considerable time and money trying to make it more “appealing.” So when we heard about latex underwear designed to make your vagina smell “better,” we immediately went into head-scratching mode. Because the whole concept of underwear to wear to please your partner only perpetuates the dangerous myth that vaginas are somehow dirty to begin with.

Putting on patent-pending vanilla-scented latex underwear is not the antidote to vagina shame. Your vagina most definitely smells like a vagina, just like it should, and anyone who wants to get naked with you probably wants it to smell and look just like it does. You don’t have to *literally* mask it.

The premise behind the single use undies is that, according to the company’s own research, some 80 percent of women often turn down oral sex because they’re nervous about how their vagina looks, smells, is groomed, or that they’re on their period. To remedy that problem, an all-female team created Lorals, which they describe on their Indiegogo page as:

", single-use panties [that] are made from premium quality natural latex, and you wear... while you’re receiving oral sex or being rimmed. They're paper-thin and stretchy so that you can feel the sensations your partner is passing along, while they create a barrier to scents and fluids — freeing you from worries or concerns so you can focus on the moment."

Aside from the idea behind the product being damaging, Lorals also doesn’t have the approval from the Food and Drug Administration for it to be considered a medical product or one that can even prevent STDs (not that the brand claims it should be used as a female condom), although founder and CEO Melanie Cristol tells HelloGiggles that it is the same kind of latex that are used in condoms. But that means its sole purpose is to encourage you to keep feeling embarrassed about the way your vagina smells and looks. The company is supposed to be about empowerment, but its message is all vagina shame, even if unintentional.

It pains us to blast a product created by women who want to help you get in the right head space to have oral sex and get that orgasm. Especially because sometimes that mindset is hard to get into, even for the most sex positive among us. Who hasn’t worried, thanks to internalized misogyny, that they haven’t shaved in a few days or that they just got back from an intense spin class and their partner is in the mood for pre-shower sex?

If wearing a pair of black latex, vanilla-scented underwear while your partner goes down on you sounds like something that will help you overcome your vagina insecurity, then please feel free to support the mission. (Just find another way to prevent STDs, because these don’t do that.)

Cristol assures HelloGiggles that the product isn’t meant to shame women. She said in a statement:

I absolutely, 100% (1000%!) agree that “women shouldn't ever have to feel bad or like they have to make their vagina smell like vanilla (or anything else) to get oral sex. It is awesome and inspiring that so many women love their natural scent all of the time. Personally, I’m in a different camp: sometimes I love it, and sometimes I don’t. For the times that I don’t, I used to say no to oral sex – until I made Lorals. Now I can say yes, every single time."

She adds, “Our company’s goal is to empower all women to enjoy more oral sex and rimming: Whether they want full bodily contact, whether they’re interested in a barrier, or whether they want to mix it up. We want to give every woman that choice, so that they have more ways to say yes to oral sex.”

Everyone’s different, right? But if we’re really at a place where people are trying to eliminate the smells from sex (which can often be part of the turn on), let’s make a pair of these for dudes, too, since their genitalia don’t exactly smell like a tray of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies after the gym, either. If we’re (unfortunately) gonna hold women accountable for how their vagina smells, we should hold men to that same standard with their nether regions.

Vaginas secrete fluids that do have an odor and a taste, this is true. When you’re sweaty and haven’t showered, those smells and tastes can change, but they’re very normal. (Of course, if your vaginal secretions or odor is especially noticeable or different than what you’re used to, you should ask your doctor about it.) Unfortunately, putting some latex over your sweaty vagina might even make that odor more pungent or cause an infection.

Dr. Terez Yonan, a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, tells HelloGiggles, “Unlike typical underwear, latex is not breathable and using this product for longer than it takes to have sex can increase risk of vaginal irritation, yeast infection and/or vaginosis (overgrowth of vaginal bacteria that leads to vaginal discharge and odor).”

But other than that, Yonan tells HG that latex is a common material when it comes to protection during sex. She says:

"Latex is frequently used in barrier methods to ensure safe sexual practices (i.e. - latex condoms and dental dams). People who have allergies to latex products should avoid latex exposure. There are some people without a true allergy who experience irritation (redness, swelling, etc) when using latex barrier methods and they may want to avoid this product if they avoid other latex products."

Yonan adds, “As with any other barrier method, if someone chooses to use this product it should be put on right before starting to have sex in order to prevent STI exposure. Unlike dental dams, which cover a larger area, users should be careful about the narrow piece that covers the vaginal or anal area as it my slip during sex and cause exposure to the partners bodily fluids.”

So aside from those who know the risks of STIs and pregnancy, these might work for people who are really self conscious about their vaginal scent. But remember that in pretty much all cases, the scent of your vagina is just what it should be. If you do feel self-conscious about your vagina or can’t relax during oral sex because of it, the best way to get to the root of the problem is to talk to your partner about it. If latex underwear makes you feel better in the short term, so be it. But please know that your vagina looks, tastes, and smells like it should. And if anyone ever makes you feel differently about that, they don’t deserve to have their face down there anyway.

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