We thought we’d heard the weirdest Gwyneth Paltrow vagina recommendation when she told us to squat over a bowl of hot water and herbs… until we heard that she wanted us to put jade eggs inside our vaginas. Is this a helpful ancient healing practice, an example of silly pseudoscience, or a real and present danger for female health? We decided to find out.
According to Goop, which sells both jade and rose quartz yoni eggs (yoni is the Sanskrit word for vagina) for between $55 and $66 a pop, these objects are “a guarded secret of Chinese royalty in antiquity.” Purveyors of crystals, including the eggs, note that the practice of using jade eggs has been around for more than two thousand years, hailing from an ancient Taoist tradition linking a strong pelvic floor with increased life-force energy.
Activist and blogger Shiva Rose explains on Goop that while the eggs began as a tool used to “please the emperors,” concubines later found them so empowering that they started to use them for their own pleasure.
Today, Goop claims that yoni eggs can be used not only for muscle tone, but also for chi, orgasms, hormonal balance, detox, and “feminine energy in general.”
How Do Jade Eggs Work?
The healing claims of jade eggs are really twofold. The first characteristic is the crystal energy that many attribute to a specific kind of jade known as nephrite jade.
As Rose explains to Goop, “Nephrite jade has incredible clearing, cleansing powers.” She, and other crystal aficionados, claim that nephrite jade has the ability to take away negativity, balance the menstrual cycle, prevent uterine prolapse, and increase kidney strength.
The second purported element of the egg’s strength comes from its physical form, which presses against the muscles of the pelvic floor when inserted. Physician Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams notes that the egg can be made of any stone – rose quartz is common – as long as it has the same shape, noting that the egg is best used as a sort of counterweight with which to do Kegel exercises.
“It’s helpful for feeling the pelvic muscles, learning how to relax the pelvic muscles, learning when you can strengthen the pelvic muscles,” she says, noting that many women use the egg to heighten sexual pleasure by increasing both awareness of and blood flow to the pelvic region.
Are Jade Eggs Good for You?
The moment that the Goop article was released, the Internet was inundated by experts claiming that using jade eggs was a useless practice.
“There are no studies or evidence to show that jade eggs help with orgasms, vaginal muscle tone or hormonal balance,” Dr. Leena Nathan, an assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UCLA Health in Los Angeles, told the Washington Post. “Jade does not result in hormonal changes, even when inserted in the vagina.”
Some even noted that using jade eggs could be dangerous, including Dr. Ursula Balthazar, who says that women using jade eggs to strengthen pelvic floor muscles can actually experience the opposite result.
“It can actually erode the tissue that it comes into contact with and end up weakening the muscles,” she says.
California OB-GYN Jen Gunter notes another issue with the practice: infection.
“Jade is porous, which could allow bacteria to get inside, and so the egg could act like a fomite,” Gunter wrote on her blog. “It could be a risk factor for bacterial vaginosis or even the potentially deadly toxic shock syndrome.”
Abrams, however, is one physician who believes in jade eggs, calling the hoopla “ridiculous.”
“It’s a freaking stone egg,” she says. “We’re not talking about putting sponges in you, we’re not talking about sharing it with other people. It’s a pretty benign object.” Benign, that is, as long as it’s being used properly.
“The only way I’ve ever had women be injured with a jade egg is if they try to insert the egg when they are too small, menopausal, too dry, or trying to force it,” she says. “And any good teacher is not going to advise you to do that.”
Method, then, is an important part of the jade egg experience — and somewhere that it seems Goop has steered people wrong.
Rose suggests on Goop that women sleep with the egg inserted, something that Gunter told Vox was “scientifically absurd,” noting that it can lead to toxic shock syndrome, much like wearing a tampon for too long.
Goop also suggests that women wear the jade egg while walking around, which Gunter says can actually cause women to clench their muscles too much, leading to pelvic pain. Release, she notes, is part and parcel of building any muscle, including pelvic floor muscles.
“Contracting constantly is like doing half of a bicep curl and not finishing it — that’s not how you work on a muscle,” she told CNN.
Abrams recommends getting advice from a professional, such as Saida Désilets, one of the foremost experts in jade eggs (though not a doctor).
Abrams even has some suggestions of her own: by running a string through the egg and attaching a small object to it — Abrams suggests a bag of beans — a woman can see in the mirror the control that she has over the egg and learn to isolate different muscles.
Rose also has some suggestions, including boiling the egg to ensure that it’s clean before going through a series of exercises while lying on your back.
“At the start, you can simply have the egg in and begin becoming aware of its energy and presence,” she says. “Then there are muscle tightening things you can do in stages to feel the various sections of the yoni.”
“It’s a very old practice,” says Abrams. “It’s a very safe practice, if people do it in the right way.”
Alternatives to Jade Eggs
Of course, if the idea of a jade egg is a bit tough to swallow, there are other ways that you can reap many of the same benefits.
Gunter suggests using weights specially designed for help with Kegel exercises, such as the ones profiled on Cosmopolitan. These weights are made with medical grade silicone or plastic and are not meant to be worn for long periods of time, thus reducing the risk for infection.
There are also other exercises that you can do that will tighten your pelvic floor without Kegels, like squats, and even products like curcuma comosa that you can use as an herbal treatment.
Whatever you choose to use, be sure that you check with a doctor beforehand, keep any objects you put in your vagina clean, and never do anything that hurts or feels uncomfortable.