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“Already, I’m like why?” These are the first words to come out of Dr Angela Jones’s mouth. The wide-eyed board-certified gynaecologist looks at me with incredulity as I describe to her the newest craze in FemTech: The Dripstick.
Previously known as the Come&Gone, the product, sold by company Awkward Essentials, is described on their website as “the first after-sex clean-up product of its kind”. The medical-grade sponge is white, about the size of a regular tampon, and sits on a plastic stick, starting at £12 for a pack of ten.
At this point you might be wondering what the hell a “cum sponge” is in the first place. Well, it all started when the Dripstick started trending on TikTok in December last year, with an unboxing video that amassed 7.4 million likes on the platform. But what is it? How does it work? And, as Dr Jones wants to know, why do we need it?
We spoke to Awkward Essentials founder and creator of the Dripstick, Frances Tang, who explains why she came up with the product.
“I’m married, and I’ve always hated the after-sex ritual,” she says. “The crossed-leg-ninja roll off the bed, the penguin walk to the bathroom, and the camp out on the toilet was not the business. My hacked-together solution of toilet paper, crusty old t-shirts, towels, and showers still inevitably led to next-day gushing, wet sheets, and ruined underwear.”
Indeed, if you ask any friend who has a vagina and engages in P in V sex, or scroll through the r/sex subreddit, you’re likely to find evidence that this is in fact a common grievance.
The Dripstick has over 2,000 glowing reviews on its website. Some Dripstick customers have even claimed that their prayers “have been answered”, that now “all sauces are collected”, that it has put an end “to the dreaded drip”, and that they no longer live “in fear of the goop”.
The (apparently) life-changing product has also been deemed safe by board-certified experts such as Dr Felice Gersh, but other doctors aren’t quite as convinced.
Dr Jen Gunter, a TikTok-famous gynaecologist, replied to one of Awkward Essential’s promotional videos on the app, and explained why she, in her own words, “hates this product”.
Her three key areas of concern were the product’s environmental impact, safety, and necessity. Dr Gunter condemned the Dripstick’s single-use nature, expressing her worry that inserting something into the vagina after sex could potentially lead to increased risk of infections. She also worried that it would encourage women to feel like they need to internally clean their vaginas (they don’t).
PRUDE wanted to get to the bottom of the Dripstick, so we took matters into our own hands.
We sat down with expert Dr Jones, who said: “The first thing that comes to my mind is why is this necessary for women? I feel like women get the short end of the stick.” No pun intended.
So let’s break the argument against the Dripstick down into facts:
Vaginas are self-cleaning
“The vagina is like a self cleaning oven. She cleans herself,” Dr Jones explains. “Why would you insert a foreign body into your vagina? You could alter the natural flora (vaginal bacteria) that is supposed to be there.”
Indeed, vaginas have an optimal PH level that keeps bad bacteria and infections at bay. Just as ecosystems have a delicate balance, so does your vagina. So if something disrupts the PH level, such as a chemical compound or foreign object, you could develop a (very uncomfortable) infection like thrush or bacterial vaginosis. So the best advice is to leave it well enough alone!
Awkward Essentials has stated that their product is not designed to clean, but to absorb excess liquid and they do not advise use of the Dripstick if the vagina is dry. Creator Frances Tang also wants people to know that the Dripstick isn’t a necessity, it’s an extra tool for those who want it.
“Dripstick is not a necessary product – it is a personal preference,” she says. “If you don’t mind the leaking or you’re happy with using a towel, keep doing that. We’re here for people who are interested in exploring other options.”
Nonetheless, Dr Jones still refutes the concept of the Dripstick. “Why would women need to insert a sponge into the vagina to absorb?,” says Dr Jones. “I don’t know that there’s anything they could say that will convince me this is necessary.”
Sex is not something that needs to be cleaned up or beautified
Just as vaginas are self-cleaning and self-regulating, they also know how to handle themselves post-sex. While sex is very personal and experiences vary from person to person, we generally don’t need to clean ourselves up immediately after the deed.
“Women are fabulous,” says Dr Jones. “Vaginas are supposed to smell like vaginas. Vulvas are not supposed to be bedazzled and glistening and all these things. They are what they are.”
She adds: “Less is always more, and if you have a partner that has a problem with that, they’re probably not the right partner for you.”
This is a gendered problem
Dr Jones highlights how the biggest issue with this product is the way it targets women’s hygiene and reinforces the idea that women need to make sex tidier – all at the expense of their bank balance.
“You have all of these products. They’re supposed to make the vagina smell better. Where are these things for men?” Dr Jones asks, as if she’s asked this question a million times. “How about something that makes the penis smell better? Or cum taste better? I think it’s ridiculous.”
So the verdict is clear: while some people swear by it, the Dripstick is absolutely not necessary. However, it is important to note that If you feel discomfort after sex due to bodily fluids, there are ways to clean yourself.
For instance, peeing after sex (which is always recommended to avoid UTIs), using a clean towel, and taking a shower are all safe (and sustainable) methods that might help you avoid “dripping” all day or all night.
Dr Jones’s final words of wisdom?
“If you’re using soap [to clean your vagina], just something that’s clean and non-scented will do the trick. And then of course, safe sex. The vagina maintains the vagina. And if your vagina is unable to maintain herself, that’s why you see someone like me, a gynaecologist.”
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