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The Dark History of Feminine Hygiene

The Dark History of Feminine Hygiene

by Shannon Klingman, M.D.

Feminine hygiene has a dark story to tell that began in the late 1800's when Lysol began promoting itself as a douching agent (Yes, I am serious).

Historically, women have tortured themselves with all kinds of vaginal cleansing methods from steaming and toweling to actually placing herbs internally.

Lysol was the first company to market themselves commercially as a douching agent. The companies that followed– like Summer’s Eve and Massengil, for instance– made them portable. “Drive-through douching” on the go, so to speak.

This is all garbage. The vagina is not to blame.

The odors women notice are external the vast majority of the time, and these are the same odors that men experience, too. It’s all how bacteria digest sweat and other funky junk on our skin. All humans have odor. Lume is an equal opportunity odor controller.

By 1911, there were five reported deaths and 193 poisonings. So, the company told women they should dilute it before use. (I can bet a woman didn’t think of this.)

The marketing message voiced concerns over a woman neglecting her feminine hygiene and causing marital discord.

Then other companies followed suit, and one even thoughtfully marketed apricot-flavored douches. Because while James didn’t think Amy needed to douche, he did fancy the flavor of apricots. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

James is a pig.

During the 1970’s, a lot happened.

Massengill came out with a disposable douche. That was really saying something, considering women had some kind of hose system that looked like a torture device prior to that. It was premixed for any time of the month.

Vaginal douches are like cigarettes. Even though doctors say don’t do it, people do it anyway.

Vaginal deodorant pellets that literally smell like room deodorizer and then deodorant tampons hit the market. The vaginal pellets are called Noroforms. They are a glycerin solid at room temp and, when these little “Glade” pellets are placed into the vagina, they melt. It’s like a Tic Tac for your hoo-hoo.

Deodorant tampons are the same thing. It is just fragrance that is added to the tampons themselves, and they smell a bit like carpet cleaner or Glade once again. Gynecologists do not recommend these, but they are not necessarily harmful.

Vagisil was a voice against vaginal shaming. It was proudly invented during the peak of the feminist movement (but before effective yeast remedies). Two women developed it for a common issue experienced by women at the time – external vulvar itching.

It’s a numbing cream. It was a step in the right direction. The focus was not external, but it’s called Vagisil. It should be called "Vulvasil" since the vagina is not to blame.

Also in the 70’s, the inventor of Lume Deodorant for Underarms & Private Parts was born (That’s me!).

I was raised by a nurse– the most kick-ass profession a woman can have. My mom told great stories across the dinner table. She made me feel like I could do anything!

I grew up, went to medical school and became an Ob/Gyn.

As a gynecologist, seeing patients in the office who voiced concerns about odor is common, and I wasn’t satisfied with the options we have as women:

1) We can attempt to cover up odor at home with products that are ineffective at best and can often make the problem worse. (See all the examples above.)

2) We go to the doctor and are sent home with an antibiotic that is most often not necessary. A study conducted in 2007 showed that providers overdiagnose BV 61% of the time and yeast vaginitis 73% of the time.

3) We are told to use soap and water. High quality soap and water do a good job of eliminating the grime, sweat, and bodily fluids that build up, for the time being. But our skin is actually able to absorb odors, so soap and water can only fix one part of the problem.

For day-to-day odors anywhere but our armpits, there wasn’t an effective solution.

With nearly 50 years between Lume and Vagisil, it was time for something more innovative to hit the market. Something based in science and not creating insecurities and sales.

You do not need to douche. (Please quit and try Lume, you will be glad you did.)

You do not need suppositories inserted into the vagina to control odor. (If you have vaginal odor, you need to see your doctor.)

You do not need deodorant tampons (Skip it).

You do not need glorified shampoo body washes claiming to somehow impact our “delicate” vaginal pH. (The vagina is not delicate, balls are.)

Lume has boldly changed the narrative on feminine hygiene and, in doing so, coincidentally created a superior whole body, skin-safe deodorant for all humans!

By taking the science in a whole new innovative direction, I solved ALL body odor.

For added deodorizing convenience, check out Lume Deodorant Wipes. They're great to keep in your car, handbag, or pocket for those times when you're caught in the middle of something and need a quick refresher.

Odor: We all have it. With Lume, it's optional.

Did you Lume today?

Shannon Klingman, M.D.

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