Vaginal powder: What is it and what are its side effects


Like vaginal wash, vaginal powder is also considered an intimate hygiene product. But are vaginal powders safe to use?

Updated: 17 Oct 2023, 17:16 pm IST

Intimate hygiene is a crucial aspect of women’s sexual and reproductive well-being. It helps prevent infections, discomfort, and other vaginal issues. However, if your vaginal health is not up to the mark, you may experience symptoms such as itchiness, redness, irregular discharge, unpleasant smell, burning sensation, change in odour and more. The intimate health products market has come up with a range of products such as vaginal wash and vaginal powders in recent times. But is using a vaginal powder or intimate powder safe?

What are vaginal powders or intimate powders?

Vaginal powders are designed to be applied to the genital area and contain ingredients such as talc, cornstarch or baking soda. They are promoted for their ability to keep the area dry and odour-free. Hence, it is assumed that they can help prevent infections as well.

Due to all these benefits, many women use vaginal powders as part of their daily intimate hygiene routine, especially after showering or exercising, to maintain hygiene and comfort. But ladies, it may be doing more harm than good.

Side effects of vaginal powders

Vaginal powders have been a topic of discussion in recent years due to their potential impact on vaginal and vulvar health. Certain studies in the US have looked into the side effects of using powder on genitals.

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Practice safe hygiene to prevent vaginal infections. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

According to research presented at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer, using vaginal powders, particularly ones containing talc, is detrimental. They can increase your risk of invasive ovarian cancer by about 30 percent if you use them frequently and for a long time.

Why is talc harmful?

Talc, a mineral found in some vaginal powders, has been found to contain traces of asbestos in its natural form. Asbestos is a known hazardous substance, and there is concern that its presence in talc-based powders may potentially pose risks to the genital area.

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Here are the major side effects of using vaginal powder:

1. Irritation and allergies: Vaginal powders may contain ingredients that irritate the sensitive skin of the vulva and vagina. Some individuals may be allergic to specific components, leading to itching, redness, or discomfort.

2. Disruption of pH balance: The vagina has a delicate pH balance that is crucial for maintaining health. Using vaginal powders can disrupt this balance, potentially leading to vaginal infections like yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis.

pH balane of vagina
Maintaining pH balance is essential. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. Respiratory health concerns: When applied, powders can become airborne, increasing the risk of inhalation. Inhaling these particles may lead to respiratory problems, particularly in babies and those with compromised respiratory systems.

How to prevent the risk of vaginal powder?

Given the potential risks associated with vaginal powders, it is advisable to exercise caution when using them. If you choose to use these products, consider the following precautions:

1. Choose talc-free powders: Look for powders that do not contain talc, which may reduce the potential risk of asbestos contamination.

2. Limit use: Avoid excessive use of vaginal powders, as frequent application may increase the likelihood of adverse effects.

3. Practice basic vaginal hygiene: Vagina is a self-cleansing organ. Eating the right foods and practicing basic hygiene tips of keeping it clean and dry, will help you evade potential risks.


Using vaginal powder is a personal choice. Still, it’s essential to know their potential risks to vaginal and vulvar health, including their possible association with ovarian cancer. While more research is needed to establish a conclusive connection, individuals should exercise caution and consider safer alternatives for maintaining genital hygiene. You can also consider consulting with a healthcare professional to help you with best practices for maintaining vaginal and vulva health while minimizing potential risks.