Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

02 May 2010

Product reviewers have a responsiblity to the public. Think before you publish.

When I first entering the mom blogging world back in 2003, I did it for the community. A lot of moms say the same thing. Community. The ability to talk to other moms about the things that moms need to talk to each other about. Mommy guilt. Potty training. Home schooling. I use to tell people that instead of talking to your neighbor over the fence, you blogged or today, Tweet. In tech speak, moms are expert crowd sources of information about the best diaper and breast pump to use. And that's where we started to find our power as community. Then finally, finally! Corporate America acknowledged our purchasing power and came a knocking. 

No one thought much of taking a product sample of Cheesy Poofs and writing about how awesome your kids thought of it. Heck, some bloggers review things that they can't possible have used! But there's a world of difference AND responsibility to the community when it comes to reviewing vegan soda pop and medical products.

Latest example is Momspective Reviews.

She received a douche and reviewed it. Graphically. And apparently a lot of women out there thought it was just sooo funny! Not me. It's not that I'm not a funny gal. In fact I'm laughing thinking of what Wanda Sykes would do with this post. But douching is something that we just should not be doing ladies.

DO NOT DOUCHE!

First, douching has been sold to women as a way to keep ourselves clean. Yes, "that not so fresh feeling" is a freaking myth. Our lady parts smell for a reason. There are a ton of microbes living in our vaginas. This is a good thing. Microbes are essential to human life. We have microbes in our guts, vaginas, everywhere. Without microbes, life couldn't exist. We aren't even close to understanding what all those microbes do, but we know for sure that they are there for a purpose. But you say that your lady parts are really smelly lately? Well, don't douche. Period.

"[The douche] pops right on in and cleans out whatever it is you think you need to get rid of." 
There isn't anything in there that you need to get rid of...And if there is, say an infection? You are going to make it worse.
"Since I had a hysterectomy a while back, I wanted to see if my reproductive cavern of darkness had any excess uterus left behind it wanted to get rid of but all appeared clear."
If you have any doubt that you have excess uterus, you should really see a medical professional not squirt water up into your vagina. Plus, if you have recently had any surgery to your lady parts (abortion, hysterectomy, removal of fibroids) your medical provider will most likely tell you to NOT DOUCHE. If you have enough time removed from the surgery and you haven't died from infection, you're in the clear.

"Hookers would love it."
I'm assuming that Momspective means that since hookers are filled with icky semen, they would want to rinse themselves clean. Oh, so funny. Not.
"[Douch brand name] is the first and only patented and FDA-cleared douching alternative"
Now let's get into this FDA stuff. Please note that this is FDA-cleared. NOT approved. Cleared. This pretty much means that the FDA says, "This won't kill you." It doesn't mean that we should use it or that it's safe to use either.It doesn't even guarantee that the douche will make your smelly lady parts fresh and clean as a spring day. And even if the FDA did approve this device, the FDA's seal of approval isn't as strong as most of us think it is. In the April 2008 Reader's Digest, Alexis Jetter outlined a litany of issues that the FDA is dealing with including a flat-lined budget despite a huge increase in work load, especially post-9/11.
"It’s a bidet you shove up your parts.  Go for it."
 DO NOT GO FOR IT!

So why am I calling out mom bloggers? Because I believe we are a community built on trust. We want to exchange information, thus we have a responsibility to each other to do the best we can to pass on good information.

Before I post something here, I try my best to research it. This is one reason why I'm a slow blogger. I'm not going to break a news story or be the first to rip off an opinion piece. I like to fill my posts with facts and citations.

I get pitches for diet supplements, medical devices, medical groups and medical advice websites. I don't do them, even if the issues if near and dear to me, because I am not going to use my reputation with all of you to sell you something that doesn't work or might hurt you.Especially if someone is making money off of you.

This is why I plead with all reviewers, especially mom bloggers, to do your homework before you review a product, especially one that impacts our health or inserted into our bodies. Do not rely just on the information the manufacturer gives you. That's why the goddess gave us the web search!

All that said. Medical research is still firming up this question of douching. One study I stumbled upon claims that douching MAY protect African-American women from pre-term birth. But I highly suggest that you talk to your doctor or midwife before doing it!

By far the articles I've read, the people I've spoken to (I've worked closely with women's health researchers and providers for over a decade) all recommend to NOT DOUCHE.

Let's be careful out there. And let's watch out for each other.

9 comments:

I learned this the hard way (though not as extreme as douche).

I was writing for a foodie website and was offered a review of diet iced tea drinks. Turned out when I received the product, the carbohydrate content was way above what I find acceptable as someone with type 2 diabetes. I shouldn't have jumped at the chance at reviewing before checking out the nutritional information. I felt obligated to write a review, however, so I embellished a bit. Still bugs me that I did that and the review is still out there.

Most of us learn things the hard way, eh?

Perhaps what you could do is revisit the idea that diet = ok for diabetics. I know when I had gestational diabetes, I thought that. Then you could revisit your flub, correct the record and help all of us rethink what it means to be on a diabetic diet. :)

Thanks for your brave comment.

I understand your point and told the company I was going to go "all Julie" to laugh about it and stated I personally don't douche. I also put in what the company statement at the bottom of the post. I had a very well said comment on that post that I thought was well put as was this post you wrote. That is also why I gave a warning at the start of the review due to the nature of the content. My site is offline today (5/3) for maintenance and will hopefully retain any and all comments left and I will absolutely welcome all left (that are not personal attacks, because I was honest in my intentions in that pot). I did make it clear I was mostly joking but also did read up on the FDA approval info and thought it was something I could also point out and again, at the end I quoted the company and their belief why it might be useful. I appreciate your candidness in this and that your post did not attack me but simply pointing out a belief you stand behind. Thank you for that.

Thank you for this post. A walk down any drug store aisle confirms the ever-increasing "feminine products" we are constantly told we need to spray on, douche with or place in our panties to disguise the smell is alarming. Women do not need to douche and the evidence is clear.
Barbara Glickstein, RN
Public Health Nurse

Barbara - Thanks for the comment!

Julie - thanks for commenting. But I still don't see how being funny or writing a humorous post exempts you from the responsibility of ultimately giving a thumbs up to a product that does more harm than good. I think you could have gone all Julie on the product and told women to stay away from it. that wasn't clear to me, nor to many of the others who read it and re-tweeted my outrage.

Hey there! It is agreed that bloggers have a duty to the public to provide competent and honest reviews. And I think that is what Julie did - she tested the product and provided a humorous and honest review. The reader will decide for themselves whether they'll look further into using a douche or not.
As for WaterWorks being a douche - it is and it isn't. It's a SAFE vaginal cleansing device that doctors who have tested and seen the the device recommend their patients, if their patient complains about their odor (after investigating/testing their patient of course).
The tap water flows DOWN rather than flushing. It's just medical grade stainless steel and tap water - an effective way to eliminate odor on any part of the body. Also, the device does not contain oxynol-9 which is the damaging ingredient that other douches contain and worries many doctors.
Whether you are for douching or not I encourage women to do the research themselves: http://www.waterworkshealth.com
It isn't the devil douche that many doctors and women speak against.
And again, to each their own.

I never said that this certain douche was just like the other douches on the market. But even water, plain old water, can alter the pH balance in your vagina and cause an infection. It's pretty clear on the links I provided.

And honestly I think we owe it to each other as moms, as women, to look out for each other. Not to wipe our hands clean on the "do your own research" line.

great post - and not just for mom bloggers, either. NO ONE should be douching. And no one should be writing product reviews for dangerous products. Thanks for the rant (the good kind).

I have never ever in my entire life used a douche. I remember learning what they were back when I was a teen, thinking it sounded very unhealthy, and confirming my suspicion. It's a shame so many women are so naive and, well, ignorant. (I'd say "stupid", but that generally would only really apply to those who know better and do it anyway.)

I do remember being told when I was about 11 years old (by one of my grandmothers *sigh*) something like it was time to start using FDS daily to always be fresh as women should do, or something like that. I remember spraying it in my panties a few times when I was having a period or one was just ending and realizing that the spray actually made it smell WORSE and then realizing (eureka!) that the chemicals I was spraying on my panties were probably getting somewhat into my vagina and that that probably wasn't healthy. I then threw the bottle away and never touched anything like that again. If I ever feel 'less than fresh' I do what any healthy, intelligent woman should do--I take a shower and I do NOT stick soap, water, or anything unnatural inside me. Hell, I don't use tampons either because something about them just feels very wrong to me.

Thank you for this article. It is very informative, thought provoking, and makes me especially grateful that I only do cosmetic reviews because I'm definitely not a doctor! ;)