Brightly colored bath bombs might be the trendiest (and most Instagram-friendly!) self-care item right now. But they may also have an unexpected side effect: The chemicals in bath bombs can majorly mess with your lady parts, according to two gynecologists who recently spoke with Self.
How so? Well, at any given time, your vagina is home to 10 to 20 types of bacteria, said Michael Cackovic, MD, an OB/GYN at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. In a healthy vagina, these bacteria work together to maintain a pH balance between 4 to 4.5 and fight off infection. (Read: The vagina is an amazing thing, really.)
But when you expose your nether regions to chemicals—like the ones used in bath bombs to create their sweet scents—that pH balance can get thrown off, ultimately leading to irritation, itchiness, and infection, said Jessica Shepherd, MD, director of minimally invasive gynecology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Now, plenty of people soak in the stuff and never have a problem. And Dr. Cackovic pointed out that the chemicals in bath bombs are guaranteed to come in contact with your vulva (the external bits down there), but they won't necessarily make their way inside your vagina, which is where they can truly wreak havoc. Even if they do, not everyone will be affected in the same way.
"You're going to have some women who have vaginas that are affected by bath bombs and others who don't," Dr. Shepherd said. "At the end of the day, it's up to everyone to make their own decision based on how they feel."
If you're still going to try the colorful bath accessory, just be sure to look out for out for symptoms of infection (think: irritation, strange odors, or changes in discharge) and report anything unusual to your gyno.