Itching, Swelling, Infections: Virginity Pills Are Doing More Harm Than Good

What is the price a woman is ready to pay to 'restore' her virginity? A lot – and we aren't just talking money.

5 min read
Hindi Female
Edited By :Shelly Walia

(This is the second part of a two-part series on virginity pills. The first part explores why women use these unscientific products to undo their 'lost' virginity. Read here.)

What is the price a woman is ready to pay to 'restore' her virginity? Apparently a lot – and we aren't just talking money.

Days before she was to get married in April 2022, 24-year-old Rani ordered a 'fake hymen pill' on a popular e-commerce website. According to an ancient custom in Maharashtra's Kanjarbhat community, the bride's virginity is 'tested' by looking for blood stains on a white sheet – right after the wedding night.

The website told an already panicked Rani that once inserted, the pill dissolves automatically. Only, it did not.

Two days after she used it, she developed a yeast infection in her vagina – leading to severe itching and swelling of the affected part. Rani took more than a month to recover, and she underwent treatment in secrecy, she tells The Quint.

The lengths women are forced to go to abide by the myth of virginity is proving to be a less talked-about safety hazard. An episode like Rani's begs these questions: Why are virginity pills so popular? Are they really safe? And should you be using them?


The Questionable Ingredients in Products

The so-called 'artificial' hymen could be a pill, a capsule, or an insertable pouch. Priced anywhere between Rs 2,500 and Rs 4,500 per capsule, they all claim to be the 'cure for lost virginity.'

Dr Ruchi Bhandari, Director of Mishka IVF Centre in Jaipur, who has experience treating women who have used this product, explains:

"The pill has cellulose and synthetic blood. When placed inside the vagina, up to 2.5 centimetres above the hymen, it dissolves due to body heat and mixes with your tissue. During intercourse, this fake tissue of synthetic blood ruptures – and there is blood."
What is the price a woman is ready to pay to 'restore' her virginity? A lot – and we aren't just talking money.

A virginity product available online. 

(Photo Courtesy: Screengrab)

A component most of these products have in common is synthetic blood – made most likely from Perfluorocarbons (PFCs). PFCs are man-made compounds containing just fluorine and carbon. It is sometimes used to induce oxygen during surgery which may cause significant blood loss.

"Even if the ingredients used in these products were safe, it becomes unsafe the moment you put them in your body without any scientific advice. They can get absorbed easily and disturb the microbial balance – leading to a number of infections."
Dr Soumya Gupta, Delhi-based gynaecologist, tells The Quint

Dr Gupta further adds, "These companies do not specify the ingredients because these products are completely unlicensed and illegal. However, it has become a big market because they exploit the fear of women. Even these manufacturers won't know what they are putting in these products, because they are completely unscientific, and do not work. For example, if the said product has heavy metal as a component, it can have a long-lasting impact and lead to a chronic condition in the reproductive health of women."


The Health Risks: From Swelling to Fungal Infection

Cauvery, 25, from Lucknow, ordered one of these hymen pills after being pressured by her ex-boyfriend to prove her virginity. But again, the product did not dissolve and got stuck in her vagina.

"I had severe pain in my lowers for 2-3 days. I kept thinking it will pass. But, ultimately, I had to go to a doctor, who pulled it out for me. She also advised me to never use such products again," she tells The Quint.

What is the price a woman is ready to pay to 'restore' her virginity? A lot – and we aren't just talking money.

A virginity product available online. 

(Photo Courtesy: Screengrab)

But it can have even worse side-effects.

"Whenever you insert a foreign object into any part of your body, like a tablet or a pouch, it should be based on informed medical opinion. It is dangerous to be using these, especially when it is neither medically backed, nor is there an idea about what is used to make these tablets."
A gynaecologist at AIIMS Delhi, who did not want to be named

This means that using such products could lead to:

  • Irritation of vagina

  • Itching in the region

  • Fungal or bacterial infections

  • Urinary tract infection – if there's lack of knowledge on where to insert the pill

  • Swelling of the area

  • Bleeding


Vagina Tightening Creams Can Disturb Your pH Balance

Another prevalent myth is that once the vagina is stretched during sex, it remains stretched forever. Gynaecologists say that these tightening creams are more popular, and reactions from them, are more regular.

What is the price a woman is ready to pay to 'restore' her virginity? A lot – and we aren't just talking money.

A virginity product available online. 

(Photo Courtesy: Screengrab)

"You are not 'tight' as a virgin and 'loose' when you have sexual intercourse frequently. Your muscles relax when aroused and the hymen lets the penis in, if you are having penetrative sex. That's how the body functions. But people use vaginal tightening creams, and then come to us with a reaction."
Dr Ruchi Bhandari, Director, Mishka IVF Centre, Jaipur

For example, some of the components in these vaginal tightening creams are aloe vera extract, lactic acid, vitamin E, olive oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, and alum powder. They don't do anything to tighten the vagina, Dr Bhandari says, adding that they might end up harming the pH levels of the vagina.

"Placing these products in your vagina puts your vaginal pH at risk. It can also alter the bacterial balance, which keeps your vagina healthy and well. If these factors change, you'll be more likely to develop bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections," Dr Gupta adds.

Has Nothing Been Done To Ban the Products?

In 2019, there was widespread outrage against these products being then sold on Amazon, prompting the e-commerce giant to pull them off their website.

Multiple media outlets reported that Amazon, in its product description, said, "In addition, the vaginal entrance can be narrowed in advance by using our tightening gel Revitalize100. This results in a narrowed feeling, which rounds off the impression of virginity."

In November 2019, All Food and Drug Licence Holders' Foundation (AFDLH), a pan-India body, filed a complaint with the FDA and the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) against the online sale of products, including pills and powders, used for the 'confirmation' of virginity.


Abhay Pandey, president of AFDLH, had then told The Asian Age: "During an online search, I came across such taboo products and immediately filed a complaint with the FDA and the DCGI."

"We have come to know that they are not evaluated or approved by the FDA or any other health regulatory bodies. We strongly feel that these products are dangerous for younger and newly-married women who will use them to prove their virginity to their partners," he had said.

But three years since then, there has been no ban on these products, with many of them being freely available on multiple e-commerce platforms in India.

"There definitely needs to be a crackdown on these products, the government and activists must join hands to expose people who are trying to make money out of them," Dr Gupta adds.

(The Quint has sent queries to the DCGI on the sale of virginity pills. The article will be updated as and when they respond.)

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Topics:  Doctors   Virginity Test   Virginity 

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