Untrending: Please Don’t Stick a Jade Egg up Your Vagina
In Untrending, we side-eye the latest fads so we know what we’re getting ourselves into — and what (if anything) we’re getting out of them.
It all began when a now-deleted interview on Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop website implied that a jade egg inserted in the vaginal cavity would keep the muscular canal tight like that of ancient Chinese concubines. It would also supposedly harness the power of crystals, energies, and a bunch of other unscientific things.
Riding on this trend, brands are selling smooth jade stones — commonly known as yoni eggs — to insert up the vagina, claiming a range of benefits that include hormonal balance, pelvic floor strengthening, and spiritually overcoming trauma. Till date, none of these claims have been supported by scientific research.
Goop, the most popular seller of jade eggs, claims that they are also a valuable addition to kegel exercises — an exercise involving tightening and relaxing of the pelvic muscles to strengthen them. Yet, according to Lauren Streicher, MD, a professor at Northwestern University, inserting a jade egg in the vagina puts pelvic muscles in a state of constant contraction, rather than exercising them by fully contracting and relaxing them. Putting pelvic muscles under such strain can lead to pain, bowel strain, and even discomfort during intercourse. The latter is particularly interesting as the jade egg is primarily meant to increase sexual pleasure.
Furthermore, inserting it into one’s vagina for long periods of time, walking around, or sleeping with it inside, can be harmful in other ways. Placing any foreign object into the vagina for a long period of time increases the risk of a variety of infections. Plus, Jade, a semi-porous stone, also makes it easier for bacteria to reside in the stone, even after cleaning. This can also lead to bacterial vaginosis.
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Another supposed benefit of the jade egg is balanced hormones, which, according to OB/GYN Dr. Jen Gunter, is also a false claim. The only hormonal benefit that precious stones like jade and crystals have is through a placebo effect that triggers endorphins, making people feel happier and better. However, this placebo function does not help individuals cope with any form of trauma — another alleged benefit. The only way to effectively manage or overcome trauma is to work with qualified mental healthcare workers.
A California District Attorney’s Office slapped Goop with a $145,000 fine (around INR 10 million) and barred the company from making any claims by about the efficacy of its products without scientific evidence.
According to marketing brouhaha, jade eggs were used by empresses and concubines in China to harness their sexual powers and stay ‘in shape’ for emperors. Yet, in a 2019 study involving more than 5,000 ancient jade objects in China, nary a jade egg showed up. This origin story, apart from being inaccurate, also adds to the sexual fetishization of Asian women as being sexually submissive. Such products also promote harmful notions of sexual viability for women, perpetuating the incorrect belief that vaginas, which are naturally elastic, need any form of tightening.