Welcome back to another episode of unnecessary period products that should probably never go near your nether regions! Menstruators on Twitter this weekend were confused, and even concerned, about a new period product that seems not only unnecessary, but potentially harmful. And after the news on this product made the usual rounds around feminist Twitter, gynecologists agreed that it is almost certainly a no go.
The product in question is called the Blossom Brush, a vaginal cleansing brush intended to “remove lingering menstrual blood and debris from menstrual products from your vagina.” Like most period products, the Blossom Brush focuses largely on the concept of “freshness.” Everything about the product design is clean and girly, from the product’s name itself, to the pink color of the brush, to the models sporting flower crowns and white jeans. We’re familiar with this marketing, and while most people with periods are sick and tired of it, that’s not where the problems with this product lie. Many were more concerned with how the product works and the ways in which it aims to fix a problem that doesn’t really need fixing.
The Blossom Brush, which is made of medical grade silicone, is meant to be used while in the shower to brush residual blood and debris—which we assume is more delicate language for clots—from the vaginal walls. The brush, which resembles an eyebrow razor more than a menstrual product, does not feature actual bristles, but silicone grooves that glide around the vaginal wall. While not intended for pregnant people or individuals with IUD (uh--yeah, that’s comforting), the product video stresses that it’s made of the exact same material as other period products like menstrual cups and is smaller than the average tampon. So what’s the issue then? As San Francisco-based OB/GYN Dr. Jennifer Gunter noted, “Every day it seems as if someone comes up with a new and thoroughly unnecessary, yet harmful vaginal cleaning product marketed as empowerment.”
Every day it seems as if someone comes up with a new and thoroughly unnecessary, yet harmful vaginal cleaning product marketed as empowerment. I present to you today’s entry: pic.twitter.com/0onrVLc9mv— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) July 17, 2020
“Your vagina is not a cupboard,” Gunter added. The replies of Gunter’s initial post became flooded with conversations on how the stigma around menstruation and the natural processes of periods should be removed, not heightened. For years people with periods have been made to feel that menstruation is dirty, which is why so many products and practices that turn out to be harmful have become so popular. As Twitter users noted, douching is a great example of a practice created with similar intentions to the Blossom Brush that does more harm than good for the vagina. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology advises strongly against it, with Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics at John Hopkins University, Dr. Anne Burke, stating “Lots of different kinds of bacteria live in the vagina. That’s totally normal and important for having a healthy vagina. Douching can upset the vagina’s PH balance and kill off the good bacteria your body needs to stay healthy.”
Douching, like the Blossom Brush and other supposed cleansing practices like vaginal steaming, could lead to irritation, infection, and potentially hinder the vagina’s natural cleaning processes. In recent years, many gynecologists agree that cleansing with warm water when in the shower is your best bet, using only mild, unscented soap if necessary. As for the material of the Blossom Brush, that’s not really the issue here. Things like menstrual cups, or sex toys made from silicon and glass (or that don't contain phthalates, vinyl, or PVC), are just fine to use.
Following the controversy online surrounding the Blossom Brush, the company issued a statement that has since been removed, along with their official instagram page and original website. Before the post was removed they stated “Here at Blossom Brush we developed a medical grade, silicon rubber brush that we brought to the market with good intentions….The product has been safe to use among the women who have tried it, and we have had an overwhelmingly positive response among the women who have already used it….We do not believe that ANY PERSON has a “dirty” vagina and we wish to work with the gynecological community and people who have periods to understand how to appropriately provide women with a new choice in their menstrual management.”
At the end of the day, it’s your body and you should do whatever makes you feel the most comfortable. It is important, however, to educate yourself on the products you're using to ensure that you aren’t causing short term or long term harm to yourself. It’s also increasingly important to work on removing the stigma around menstruation and embracing all the super cool, natural things our bodies are capable of. Following Dr. Gunter’s comments of the Blossom Brush, body positive icon Jameela Jamil took to Twitter to offer her two cents: “Leave your vagina alone....Do not use “cleaning devices.” Do not feel shame around your period. Do not feel shame around natural scents of the human body.”
Leave your vagina alone. Do not put weird products in it. Do not mess with your pH. Do not use “cleaning devices” Do not feel shame around your period. Do not feel shame around natural scents of the human body. Do not let cis-het men owned companies prey on your fear of nature. https://t.co/FWgszdmscn— Jameela Jamil ? (@jameelajamil) July 18, 2020
Top Photo : Screenshot via Vimeo | Blossom Brush
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Aliza is a Creative Writing BFA student and former BUST Magazine intern! When she's not writing, reading or scrolling through TikTok for hours on end, you can find her consuming copious amounts of iced coffee or doing something witchy. Follow her on Twitter @alizapelto.