Why the mass media shamed a woman’s sexual experience just to attack Gwyneth Paltrow

Last week, a woman was publicly shamed by mainstream media for embracing her sexuality through the use of a jade egg (a stone you put up your vagina for various healing, strengthening and orgasmic benefits).

I personally used the jade egg practice as a way to integrate my trauma from childhood sexual abuse.

Thousands of women have used this incredible system to remove sexual shame and self-hate and replace it with a loving acceptance and connection to their vaginas.

That’s why it broke my heart last week to see The Washington Post, Vox News, CNN, Fox News and many others repeat a smear campaign against a woman who dared to speak up about her sexual experiences with the jade egg.

A woman Shiva Rose who had the courage to speak up about her own personal sexual experiences was relentlessly shamed by one medical practitioner and then the mass media.

And all because she had posted her honest experience about the Jade Egg on Gwyneth Paltrows blog; Goop.

The media perpetuates the baseless shaming of female sexuality

During the week that was supposedly all about female empowerment…

Shiva Rose wrote on Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog, Goop, in a vulnerable way about how her seven years of practice with the jade egg had revolutionized her body and her sexuality.

She spoke in her own terms, using mystical language, and was attacked and belittled for her personal beliefs.

One angry “expert” makes unfounded allegations

In response to her post, a gynecologist named Dr. Jen Gunter flew off the handle and posted an angry rant on her blog with numerous accusations about the jade egg and no research to back it up.

Her personal accusations were demeaning towards Shiva Rose’s personal beliefs, but what really made the news were her health accusations, which included:

  • Jade eggs are dangerous and can cause TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome).
  • The practice of jade eggs is basically useless and could even damage a woman’s pelvic floor

Dr. Gunter made these outrageous statements with no research, evidence or firsthand experience of the jade egg practice other than reading Paltrow’s blog last week.

This was posted to Gunter’s own blog, where she also writes, “Nothing here is…medical advice…or the practice of medicine.”

Basically, it was her personal opinion founded in nothing but uneducated guesses.

But the way the global media carried it, you might have mistaken it for the gospel truth.

The media celebrated being able to make Paltrow look stupid, never doing further research into the lies they were perpetuating.

It was an incredible example of thousands of women’s personal experiences being thoroughly discredited by one uneducated “expert’s opinion.”

The real truth about jade eggs

Was there even any truth to the allegations?

Is the practice or the jade egg itself dangerous?

The short answer is no.

To uncover the truth about the jade egg practice, my colleague, Dr. Saida Desilets, and I decided to do a real investigation.

We thought we’d use actual research and a variety of well-informed medical opinions to let you know why jade eggs are perfectly safe.

Jade eggs DO NOT cause toxic shock syndrome

Dr. Gunter alleged that a jade egg could cause toxic shock syndrome.

This was unfounded, since there is not one single case or study linking the use of jade eggs with TSS.

Jade eggs have been used in the United States for over 30 years by tens of thousands of women with no reported health issues.

But that doesn’t mean one couldn’t happen…so let’s dig deeper into the allegation that a jade egg could cause TSS using actual research and medical opinions.

Actual research on why jade eggs do not cause TSS

(Quote provided courtesy of Dr. Saida Desilets)

TSS is rare, and more importantly, S. aureus has preferred conditions in which it is more likely to flourish, and this is with a synthetic, super absorbent tampon. — Sharra L. Vostral, PhD, Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, Dec. 2011.

My colleague, Dr. Saida Desilets writes:

“The research indicates that TSS appeared when tampons changed from cotton to synthetic fibers, providing the perfect atmosphere for the S. aureus bacteria to grow.

This study shows us that even full cotton tampons have exceptionally low or no risk of causing TSS, so how can the jade egg, unable to absorb a heavy menstrual flow and typically never used during the menstrual cycle, be linked to this?”

“In all of my years of practice, I have never seen any poor outcomes from women using a jade egg vaginally. Given the inert quality of the stone, I think that the risk of TSS or other infection is negligible.”Rachel Carlton Abrams, MD, MHS

Here’s what a leading Ob-Gyn has to say about jade eggs and TSS:

“Toxic shock syndrome is very rare, usually seen in menstruating women using high absorbency tampons, with prolonged use. Although the jade is porous, it is not absorbent. The association of TSS with hyper-absorbable tampons is thought to be due to accumulation of blood in the polyester foam cubes and chips of carboxymethylcellulose; the increased vaginal pH in menstruation from 4.5 to 7.4; and the presence of both oxygen and carbon dioxide in the vagina during menstruation. These factors promote growth conditions for S. aureus (the bacteria responsible) growth. Jade eggs are not worn during menstruation, and do not accumulate blood. They can be boiled regularly for hygiene. Based on these facts, the risk for TSS from proper jade egg use is very low.”- Debra Wickman, MD, FACOG

And here’s what a certified Nurse-Midwife had to say:

“As a Yale-trained certified Nurse-Midwife with over a decade of clinical experience in gynecology, I feel comfortable recommending the use of a jade egg to my patients. In terms of infection risk, we could compare it to other common practices in gynecology such IUDs, which have strings that reside in the vagina for 5–10 years and have a direct route to the uterus. Beyond recommending women practice safe sex while IUDs are in place, we don’t question the safety of this birth control method in terms of infection risk. Why, then, would we question the use of a jade egg, which in my mind would pose less of a risk than an IUD? As a clinician who specializes in pelvic health, I will continue to support the use of this important tool for women.” -Becca Sarich, certified Nurse-Midwife

Jade eggs and pelvic floor health

Because Dr. Gunter didn’t actually know what the jade egg practice was, she was guessing based on her reading of the Goop blog post.

The jade egg practice is not the same as kegels or pelvic floor therapy any more than yoga is like stretching or meditation is like sleeping.

The jade egg isn’t just a “stone you put up your vagina,” it’s a fully developed system used to support not just pelvic health, but a woman’s positive emotional connection to her own sexuality.

It actually isn’t about “wearing” the egg around or sleeping with it in.

It’s a system, just like yoga, based on Taoist tradition and involving physical movements along with breathing and focus.

And just like yoga, from the outside, many people can discredit it for looking magical or stupid — but that doesn’t mean it can’t create wonderful health outcomes for those who engage with it.

Just like any other system, without proper guidance from a trained teacher, the jade egg could be a dangerous practice.

An understanding of the pelvic floor and how to use the practice in a way that involves building strength and creating relaxation is necessary for engaging in a healthy practice.

Properly trained teachers know how to guide the process in this way.

Dr. Gunter successfully made the practice sound ridiculous because she didn’t understand that it was an actual system based on building pelvic floor strength and relaxation while increasing sensate focus in the pelvis.

Actual dangers of the jade egg

Because Dr. Gunter didn’t know what she was talking about, she actually missed the real dangers of the jade egg.

Many businesses have begun to sell jade eggs without proper safety standards in place.

If a jade egg is bleached, fake or manufactured improperly, it can become brittle and potentially dangerous.

Many crystals currently in use, such as rose quartz, don’t have the internal toughness necessary for intimate use.

Nephrite jade, on the other hand, has an “extreme toughness” due to “microscopic features” in the “orientations of its crystallites, and the nature of its grain boundaries,” according to a paper published in the Department of Geology at the University of Manchester by M. Dorling and J. Zussman in 1985.

Many businesses sell jade eggs without holes to tie disposable string to remove the egg and for some women with prolapse or specific vaginal orientations, this can make the egg extremely difficult to remove.

There are some teachers who are creating unnecessary pelvic tension in clients due to an improper understanding of the pelvic floor where they focus only on weight-training or strength building without a nuanced understanding of balance in the process.

But that doesn’t mean the jade egg practice doesn’t work or could be dangerous used in the proper way — it just means that, like anything else involving the body, you need to work with a properly trained teacher.

Why this was so sad

As a teacher who works with the jade egg, I have seen the practice offer an incredible space for women to release sexual abuse and sexual trauma.

It also provides a point of focus for a woman to enhance her sexuality, whether that means changing her relationship to her body or embracing her pleasure.

As a survivor of sexual abuse, I personally found the jade egg practice allowed me to gently connect with my body and sexuality from a space of love and compassion.

While survivors of sexual trauma should also spend time with qualified therapists to address their healing and integration, there is no substitute for a daily self-practice to create a sense of safety and connection.

I have now seen thousands of women use this practice as a way to finally love their pussies and feel connected to their sexuality, and to claim pleasure as something to be embraced and celebrated rather than judged or shamed.

Pelvic floor therapy or a kegel weight doesn’t do that — but a jade egg practice can.

In a way, the jade egg is a practice for the moment.

It is genuinely empowering.

And it was heartbreaking to see the media drag the practice through the mud two weeks ago and run a smear campaign on a woman who dared to speak up about her own sexuality.

When most “alternative therapies” hit the mainstream, they are usually attacked by the medical establishment first as being crazy or dangerous.

Yoga and meditation went through these allegations as well before research showed that there were actual benefits to the ancient practices.

Jade egg studies are currently underway.

The facts and opinions of several medical professionals show that a proper jade egg practice isn’t a health danger.

And tens of thousands of women’s personal experiences show that the practice increases sexual pleasure and connection while supporting the removal of sexual shame and guilt.

Given the long history of sexual violence, oppression and shaming of women’s sexuality, a practice that offers this kind of relief ought to be celebrated.

It will be a year or more before we have actual science to back up these results, but in the meantime, it doesn’t make any sense to demean and attack the practice or a woman who chooses to engage with it.

In fact, right now, more than ever, feels like the time to celebrate and investigate personal practices that women find sexually empowering.

And it’s also time to actually listen to the experiences of women rather than belittle them with the unfounded allegations of a supposed expert.

It’s a radical idea for the time, I know.

Rather than shaming women for their sexual experiences and perspectives, why don’t we listen with an open mind to what they have to say instead?

— Layla Martin, Founder & CEO, www.laylamartin.com