Jen Gunter is the official “You stuck what up your WHAT?” doctor

There she goes again, providing informed advice about basic hygiene. Lifehacker has recommended to women that they stuff makeup sponges — you know, those cheap little sponges used for wiping one’s face — up their vaginas when they’re menstruating.

What is it with these advice sites telling people to jam random stuff up their orifices, anyway? Do they think vaginas are just the female substitute for pockets, since they don’t have any on their clothes? Maybe we need more “lifehacks” like “Never lose your keys again! Keep them in your vagina” or “Did you know you have an adorable change purse…in your crotch?”

I could scarcely believe anyone would suggest this, so I checked the Lifehacker site, and had a momentary thrill. The article, right up top, announces that it has been [Updated]! Could this be a rare instance of one of this inanity mills owning up to an error and retracting bad advice? No such luck. They added a bit where they consulted an ob/gyn who declared that there was “nothing special” about the stuff you stick up your hoo-hah, so go for it.

I think I’d trust Dr Jen Gunter’s advice, because she remembers Toxic Shock Syndrome and actually references the medical literature.

Also, any site that advertises “life hacks” is 90% bullshit, anyway.


  1. says

    Jesus Christ. I remember TSS too, not something you want to court. Make-up sponges, even if they were safe, wouldn’t be any good. They are remarkably resistant to absorbing liquid.

  2. says

    When I was a kid I stuck a ‘red hot’ cinnamon candy up my nose.
    It wasn’t until years later, reading Richard Feynman’s minority report on the Challenger disaster, that I understood: if the red hot is not intended for the nose, it does not go in the nose. It’s not an argument from design, exactly, it’s more like a whole lot of trial and error by other people.

    Here’s a lifehack: take lifehacker’s suggestion for something stupid, then sue lifehacker for $1m?

  3. emergence says

    This kind of reminds me of Jim Sterling’s Lifehack bits. At least he’s joking when he tells you to do something stupid.

  4. says


    Here’s a lifehack: take lifehacker’s suggestion for something stupid, then sue lifehacker for $1m?

    I wouldn’t advise it in this case, you can die from TSS.

  5. OptimalCynic says

    A friend of mine in the sex industry used small cubes of kitchen sponge when she needed to work on her period. Of course, they only stayed in for the duration of the booking and then she took them out and used a tampon instead, so the odds of TSS were pretty minimal.

  6. gijoel says

    Wait, what? Why? Why do people give this sort of shitty advice to women? Are they going to advocate shoving jade up my arse for my prostate? Doubt it.

  7. Bruce H says

    @8 If by “sword”, you mean “penis”, then yes. I might also add a tongue would be acceptable. (In a cunniliguistical sense, of course.)

  8. cartomancer says

    #9, 10,

    Indeed! It’s the Latin word for a sword’s scabbard (and, by extension, any other similar kind of sheath. Though it’s mostly used for the ones that hold swords). Which kind of tells you something about Roman and Medieval European attitudes towards lady parts really – they’re accessories designed for something else.

  9. DLC says

    gijoel @7 : Yes, someone would recommend shoving a piece of jade up there, or even a chunk of gold. We already have whatshername the actress* selling jade eggs to women to shove up the vagina, I’m sure it would not be much of a stretch for some con-man to tell men to shove one up their arse.
    (*she does not need more publicity)

  10. Raucous Indignation says

    I had a good friend in college who was one of the women from that first cohort who actually survived TSS. The initial outbreak was due to a new type of tampon product that was designed to stay in the vaginal vault much longer than the usual ones. The higher-absorbency synthetic fibers when coated with blood made an excellent culture medium for Staphylococcus. My friend freely admitted that the last tampon of her cycle worked so well that she forgot it was in there, and forgot to take it out. By the time she had vaginal symptoms it had largely disintegrated into an unpleasant infectious mass. And she then had a trip to the ICU!

  11. markkernes says

    As someone who works in the adult entertainment (read: porn) industry, I can attest that when actresses are having their periods, many of them do use makeup sponges as a “leak preventative.” They’ve been doing it for years, and I’ve heard no reports of toxic shock or other aliments from the practice. Of course, the sponges are only in there for a few hours at a time; maybe that’s the difference.

  12. kupo says

    markkernes @ 15
    As an owner of a vagina, you’ll excuse me if I take the word of a medical doctor over that of someone whose main experience with vaginas is in entertainment.

    Just because you personally have not seen the damage from inserting foreign objects that can breed bacteria into orifices does not mean it’s not risky.

  13. andyo says


    There is a post over there that also says what you said about porn actresses using them, but contradicting your post. Like kupo said, just because you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous (and worse, you’re not the one at risk, and are these women somehow likely to let you know about their health issues?)

    A few weeks ago, an adult entertainment star reached out to me because we make a menstrual disc (an FDA cleared, type II medical device) that can be worn during intercourse for mess-free period sex.  She told me that the industry forces women to use these cosmetic sponges. This was the first time I’d heard of this practice. She continued to describe some horror stories for both male and female performers— from lacerations to infections. When I originally saw this post, my heart sank because it is clickbait plain and simple. Period sex gets clicks and this dirty trick will inevitably hurt women. The FDA regulates menstrual devices for a reason. Thank you for being a heroine and standing up against clickbait… jade eggs, organic tampons and all.