It’s no secret that American sex ed is less than stellar. Many states don’t require schoolkids get sex education at all—and even in places where sex ed classes are baked into the curriculum, there’s no guarantee those classes will go beyond the basics, educate about safer sex, or even provide medically accurate info.
We often hear how lackluster sex ed leads to unplanned pregnancies and increased rates of STIs—but there’s another side effect that doesn’t get as much discussion. When people don’t know much about how sex or the human body works, it’s easier to get snookered by scams passing themselves off as sexual health products. Sometimes this just means throwing away money on unproven devices, but other times, it means purchasing a product that actually makes you less, not more, safe.
Here’s a roundup of some of the most dubious products on the market—and why you should avoid them.
The Product: Vaginal Detoxes
Why It’s A Bad Idea: The vaginal ecosystem can be a fragile one—tamper with it too much and you’re likely to end up with an injury or infection. Though these products promise to “detox” your vagina and make it healthier, they’re far more likely to throw things off balance and give you a yeast infection.
What You Should Use Instead: Nothing. The vagina is self-cleaning and doesn’t need help. If you have a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, or UTI, talk to your doctor about the best treatment for you. But definitely don’t put a satchel of herbs up there.
The Product: Passion Dust
What It Is: A vaginal suppository that turns vaginal fluids into a glittery, sparkly unicorn lube. According to its makers, “Passion Dust creates what we call ‘magicum’ which is essentially a ‘flavored orgasm.’”
Why It’s A Bad Idea: The FAQ on the Passion Dust website is full of a number of red flags, including a bit about how the product hasn’t been tested with condoms but is probably safe to use anyway (a statement that should not inspire confidence). But if you want a truly thorough take on glittering up your vaginal fluids, see what gynecologist Dr. Jen Gunter has to say.
What You Should Use Instead: Flavored lubes are a great way to inject a little novelty into your sex life (and create a literal flavored orgasm)—and they’re a lot safer than Passion Dust (just make sure they’re glycerine free).
What It Is: Condoms offer incredibly effective protection against STIs and unplanned pregnancy when used correctly—but for some people, they can also reduce sensation and hamper intimacy. Jiftip and Galactic Cap both claim to offer a solution to this problem with stickers (yes, stickers) that cover the urethra (theoretically preventing an exchange of body fluids) while leaving most of the shaft and head exposed (thereby offering most of the sensation of unprotected sex).
Why It’s A Bad Idea: For starters, even if these products work as they claim, they’re fundamentally less safe than standard condoms: Leaving the shaft exposed increases the risk of transmitting a skin-based STI like herpes or HPV.
But there’s also no reason to believe these products actually work. A sticker with the ability to remain on the penis throughout sex—undisturbed by thrusting, lubrication, or the force of ejaculation—seems pretty unlikely. And the amount of adhesive you’d need to get something like this to work? Well, removing it would likely be far less pleasant than just using a condom.
What You Should Use Instead: Condoms. (And if you’re convinced they feel terrible, try exploring the vast range available. Not all condoms are created equally, and you might find that there’s a brand out there that works well for you!)