Some things in life are constants: death, taxes, and bad vaginal advice from the Kardashians. After Khloé Kardashian made headlines for recommending that women put vitamin E oil inside their vaginas, gossip and lifestyle blogs decided it would be the perfect time to resurface the celebrity sisters’ recommendation of a boutique radiofrequency vaginal treatment called ThermiVa. And, once again, those bloggers are not applying nearly enough scrutiny to a Kardashian’s genital guidance.
Hollywood Life interviewed Kim Kardashian’s celebrity dermatologist Dr. Harold Lancer who—surprise!—called ThermiVa a “transformative technology for treating a multitude of vaginal issues,” which prompted YourTango to declare that the “new vagina obsession has a doctor’s seal of approval.”
The millennial-focused Refinery 29 recently put it on a list of “instant-gratification beauty treatments” calling it a “vaginal-rejuvenation process you can have done before you even finish an episode of The Bachelor.”
What’s worse is that this hyperbolic ThermiVa talk should have been put to bed a long time ago: Khloé first brought it up on a March episode of her now-cancelled talk show Kocktails with Khloé during a conversation with Botched plastic surgeon Dr. Terry Dubrow.
“My sisters, they’ve had kids, and there’s a vagina lasering thing to tighten it,” said Khloe. “So in all my household, all they do is talk about this vagina laser.” “It works,” added Dubrow. “It shrinks the inside and it basically … re-virginizes you. It’s like a face-lift of the vagina, kind of.” ThermiVa does have FDA clearance for dermatological use but that doesn’t mean it’s been FDA-approved for any of the purposes that the Kardashians have used it for. The device is essentially a wand that dermatologists can insert into the vaginal canal to heat tissue, theoretically stimulate collagen production and alleviate “vulvovaginal laxity.” To try it, you’ll need a Kardashian-sized bank account because a full set of treatments can cost over $3,000.
Even if you have that kind of money lying around, ThermiVa is still unproven, and it’s certainly not advisable for young, childless women looking for “instant gratification beauty treatments.”
As San Francisco Bay Area OB/GYN and writer Dr. Jennifer Gunter told the Daily Beast, there have been “zero long-term studies and zero studies on nonmenopausal women.”
“Why would a young woman who has never had kids be concerned about her vagina size?” Dr. Gunter added.
Indeed, the target demographic for ThermiVa is considerably older than the readership of beauty blogs that take advice from Khloé Kardashian. The official website for the device focuses on its use among postmenopausal women and women who have had “a particularly strenuous vaginal childbirth [or] multiple births.” One woman featured in the ThermiVa testimonial video is 44 years old and had two surgeries after her first child. The other has had three children. (A representative from ThermiVa’s parent company was not immediately available for comment.) To be fair, 35-year-old Kim Kardashian has had two complicated childbirth experiences and that 37-year-old Kourtney has three children herself. But there are other treatments for women suffering from symptoms like vaginal atrophy and dermatologists seem more than willing to use ThermiVa on women who are looking for aesthetic improvement alone.
As Dr. Lancer told Elle, “About 50 percent of my patients come for the cosmetic aspect of the procedure; they are looking for visual improvement—just as they look for visual improvement on their face, neck, or décolleté.”
Only “about 35 percent,” Lancer said, were trying to improve their sexual experience.
In 2007, The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued a committee opinion on surgical “vaginal rejuvenation” procedures noting that a woman’s “concern regarding the appearance of her genitalia may be alleviated by a frank discussion of the wide range of normal genitalia and reassurance that the appearance of the external genitalia varies significantly from woman to woman.”
ThermiVa is nonsurgical, but the same principle applies: Concerns about genital appearance probably don’t justify putting a heated wand inside your vagina.
You should also be skeptical of ThermiVa’s boast that the device “promotes [the] tightening of vulvovaginal tissues.” So far, there’s no hard evidence to support that claim and the visible effects of the procedure require “maintenance treatments” one to two times per year.
Besides, as one OB/GYN told Cosmopolitan, the pelvic floor muscles are what truly determine tightness so an intra-vaginal treatment like ThermiVa that “only reaches the vaginal lining” will end up being a money sink for many women.
If you’ve got the net worth and medical ignorance of a Kardashian, that’s not a problem.
Everyone else should hold onto their cash and leave their vaginas alone.