Fact-checking Speed Darlington’s claim washing vaginas with fingers healthy

Babatunde Okunlola

Claim: Speed Darlington, a social media influencer and musician, claimed that inserting fingers to wash the vagina keeps it clean. 

Verdict: False! The vagina is self-cleaning and does not need to be washed with fingers or harsh soaps.

Full Text 

The vagina is a muscular, elastic tube that connects the uterus (womb) to the outside of a woman’s body. It’s lined with soft, flexible tissue that helps with lubrication and sensation. Often confused with the vulva, the vagina is an internal canal and just one part of the vulva, which is the external area of the genitals. The vulva includes the labia majora (outer lips), labia minora (inner lips), clitoris, and opening of the vagina.

The vagina plays several key roles in women’s reproductive system, such as passage, by allowing for menstrual blood to leave the body. It also plays a part in childbirth, as during pregnancy, the vagina stretches and expands to deliver a baby, and during sexual intercourse. It is also a part of women’s sexual anatomy and can be a source of pleasure.

Over the years, there have been some controversial claims that the vagina needs special cleaning or deodorising. 

On June 21, 2024, the blog site Instablog posted a video of popular Nigerian blogger Speed Darlington on its X platform, who, while discussing his sexual escapades with his partners, advised women to wash their vaginas. He advised that women should insert their fingers to wash the vagina to keep it clean.

 A transcript from the video clip in English and Igbo partly reads: 

“You have to physically “Weru nkpinrin aka gi” (use your fingers), “tinye nime ikpu gi” (put into your vagina,) try your best to “Utitasia” (remove) all the deposits.”

As of June 26, 2024, the post had been viewed over 1,200,000 times, generating over 1,200 likes, 15,300 shares, and  7,200 comments. It also generated several reactions from the platform users, who support his statement.

An Instagram user, boma_xy, wrote, “It sounds funny, but it’s the fact, wash everywhere.” 

Another user, mizmaduhair wrote, “This is for those who say the vagina is self-cleaning. Continue.”

A commentator, @stellzexclusive, however, refuted his statement, saying, “Women, please disregard the advice of inserting your fingers in your vagina, and washing is totally wrong. Only wash the surface with clean water.

After observing the controversial reactions and engagement generated by the post, DUBAWA decided to fact-check it for public health safety.

Verification

In 2018, researchers from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, found that using gel sanitisers was linked with an eight-fold increase in a person’s risk of developing a yeast infection and an almost 20 times higher risk of getting a bacterial infection. The same study also found an association between intimate washes and a 3.5 times higher risk of bacterial infections and a more than two-fold higher risk of having a urinary tract infection (UTI). The scientists also noticed a similar association between using intimate cleansing wipes and UTIs.

Similarly, according to research published by the National Library of Medicine on Vaginal Douching, the researcher found that washing the vagina was associated with an increased prevalence of bacterial vaginosis. Another study found that bacterial vaginosis was strongly associated with the use of commercial antiseptic products applied to the vulval mucosa or as a vaginal douche. 

Other studies have also found that douching can upset the natural bacterial balance in the vagina, rendering it more vulnerable to infections—including sexually transmitted infections—and increasing a person’s risk of cervical cancer and pelvic inflammatory disease.

Experts Opinion

Dr Julius Dare, the Acting Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association, Kwara State, and Obstetrician and Gynecologist at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, discouraged vagina washing. He said:

“The vagina is one of those spaces that can cleanse themselves. You don’t need to put in soap to wash the vagina out; it is not needed. When you do that, you remove certain organisms that help maintain its normal state. When women practice douching, they come out with some infections that are not sexually transmitted. Still, because of the act, there is an imbalance in the normal milieu within the vagina. This is why people come down with some terrible odours down there and possibly discharge. So, it is not a recommended practice.” 

Further discouraging the idea of washing the vagina or dipping hands into once private parts for the sake of hygiene, Dr Muiz Adenekan, a consultant, obstetrician, and gynaecologist with the Lagos Island Maternity, said: 

“When you dip your hands into your private parts, you introduce something from the external to the internal parts. Even when you wash your hands before doing this, it doesn’t mean that your hands are a hundred per cent clean. Also, regular washing of the vagina is not even recommended because the vagina has normal flora that helps to prevent infection. Regular washing with either soap, water, or perfume doesn’t make it clean. It isn’t recommended, and women should not do that.” 

Experts advise that if a person is worried about vaginal discharge changing colour or acquiring a particular odour, they should speak to a healthcare provider to check for potential infection. 

Conclusion 

The vagina is self-cleaning. It has natural secretions that help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria. Washing it can disrupt this balance and potentially lead to infections. 

The researcher produced this fact-check per the DUBAWA 2024 Kwame KariKari Fellowship, in partnership with Diamond 88.5 FM Nigeria, to enrich the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country. 

Related Posts