The democratization of vaginal health, the next frontier of well-being

Until recently, the vaginal health space was a quiet topic discussed in whispers and behind closed doors. And products in this category have missed the mark for far too long, often perpetuating a historical notion that there should be shame in what is natural.

Yet the data show that Urinary tract infections are the leading cause of emergency room visits in the United States. Largely because of the taboo nature of UTIs and vaginal health and the lack of understanding and fear of how to prevent them. As a result, women’s products reflect this culture of shame and embarrassment about how a woman’s body is supposed to be. But there is hope, a shift in unfiltered conversations is happening, largely on social media, to help make vaginal health care accessible, empowering and accessible.

Elise Orthwein and Catherine Nguyen are co-founders of cheeky bonsai the disruptive company that has attracted a massive following for its products to test, relieve, treat and help prevent UTIs. With nearly half a million followers on TikTok where their content is educational and non-judgmental.

“There are so many marketing gimmicks, from douches to feminine products, all of those things that are bad for vaginal health but take advantage of women’s insecurities. Vaginas aren’t supposed to smell like flowers and pumpkin candles” , explains Orthwein.

Before having a product line, Cheeky Bonsai focused on creating “cheeky” sexual wellness education content. Initially, the founders started thinking about reinventing sex education for the next generation on TikTok. Quickly, the brand garnered millions of views of videos debunking UTI fables and vaginal health myths. But the academic success showed that there was a market for products that were missing and desperately sought by women. Three months later, the brand launched three flagship products: their Bye Bye UTI supplement with D-mannose and cranberry, UTI test strips, and pain relief for UTI symptoms like urinary pain at their D2C site. . Now they are expanding their brand reach by entering Target, furthering their accessibility mission.

“The D-mannose and cranberry drink mix is ​​packed with electrolytes, so it’s super hydrating. It effectively flushes your urinary tract and helps prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. Many women will naturally think about doing the full of cranberry juice which is loaded with sugar and does nothing compared to the D-mannose and cranberry combo, it’s a potent form,” says Orthwein.

A big part of why the co-founders and friends wanted to tackle this space was because so little innovation had taken place. With all the progress in the world, the vagina has been left behind.

“For my co-founder and I, we grew up with all these inherited marks. The marks from our grandmothers that we didn’t want on our bathroom counters, and that reinforced the shame of vaginal health issues. We just thought women deserved better and we could make women feel better about their bodies and normalize those conversations and even get partners to be more supportive and involved,” Orthwein says.

With Gen Z not being or wanting to be very low-key, women want more than the traditional way of doing things. “The next generation of women says no. I’m going to research this and I’m going to do what’s right for my body and not fall into these things again.

UTIs are just the beginning for the brand. “We think of all the taboo and outdated female health products that need to be redesigned and reinvented. 85% of women experience cramps, 30% of vagina sufferers have an imbalanced vaginal microbiome, and we review the full range of all-natural or over-the-counter solutions. »

And in the cultural moment we live in, valuing the way things feel and the health and well-being of our inner selves becoming a priority is arguably part of the next frontier of vaginal health. “It’s not just about mitigating. It’s about feeling good about your body and living your best vaginal life. We know so many women deal with all of this on their own and we want to open up the conversation so she doesn’t feel so alone,” Orthwein says.

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