How Does Witch Hazel Help Your Vagina? An Expert Explains

Ad failed to load

If you're looking for a super useful, not-crazy-expensive cure-all to stock your bathroom cabinet with, buy soap. But if you've got some extra room in there, witch hazel should be your next purchase, especially if you suffer from hemorrhoids, postpartum tears, or yeast infections. Most women know witch hazel makes a great facial toner, but you might not know about its many other benefits. How does witch hazel help your vagina? Let's count the ways.

"Hammamelis virginiana, commonly known as witch hazel, is a plant native to North America," Dr. Kate Klein, a licensed naturopathic doctor in Ajax, Ontario, Canada, tells Romper. "Its primary constituents are tannins, which are known to tighten superficial cells — meaning it can help to control superficial bleeding, as well as reduce inflammation and edema (swelling), both internally and externally." Klein goes on to explain that it can be used internally to stop uterine hemorrhaging postpartum or after surgery. You can also apply witch hazel to hemorrhoids. "The best part about witch hazel is that it's very safe," notes Klein. "It has no known side effects or drug interactions."

Exactly what makes witch hazel so, well, witchy? Dr. Jamil Abdur-Rahman is a board-certified OB-GYN and one half of Twin Doctors TV — which you should totally check out (Dr. Jamil and Dr. Idries Abdur-Rahman are actual twins, and also, super telegenic). Abdur-Rahman explains that witch hazel is an astringent, which means it dries, shrinks, and tightens tissue by pulling water out of it. Additionally, witch hazel is acidic — and so are healthy vaginas.

Ad failed to load

According to Abdur-Rahman, an acidic astringent like witch hazel can really help you out postpartum. He explains:

"Witch hazel is a fantastic thing that new moms can safely apply to the vagina to not only lessen postpartum bleeding and postpartum pain, but also to lessen the risk of developing postpartum vagina infections."
Ad failed to load

Most postpartum vaginal discomfort is the result of swelling, Abdur-Rahman explains, and witch hazel can reduce inflammation and pain by leeching excess fluids from the vulva and vagina. It also compresses blood vessels, resulting in reduced blood flow — which is good when you've just given birth and everything is bleeding all the time.

Used internally, witch hazel can also help treat and prevent vaginal infections after you give birth, thanks to its acidic nature. According to Abdur-Rahman, a healthy, normal vagina is pretty acidic (with a pH between 3.8 and 4.5, for those into biochemistry). "However, after childbirth, the normal vaginal acid gets 'washed out'" by amniotic fluid and blood, he explains. Witch hazel applied internally and externally to the vagina — with your doctor's OK, of course — may just restore your vagina to happiness and joy.

Ad failed to load

One thing witch hazel absolutely does not do, according to Abdur-Rahman, is fight or prevent a yeast infection. In fact, witch hazel can make a yeast infection worse — and no one wants that. As Abdur-Rahman explains:

"Candida, the fungus that causes the majority of vaginal yeast infections, prefers to grow in either a neutral or a slightly acidic vaginal environment. So witch hazel acidifying the vagina can actually make vaginal yeast infections worse. There is a caveat to that though. Most suspected yeast infections are not actually yeast infections. They are bacterial vaginosis, and witch hazel can effectively treat bacterial vaginosis."

Most yeast infections aren't yeast infections? The Cleveland Clinic Health Library confirms it, and my mind is blown. In fact, up to 75 percent of all vaginal infections have more to do with bacteria than yeast. So if you're dealing with uncomfortable symptoms, your best bet is to head to the doctor before trying to treat yourself.

Ad failed to load

Finally, Abdur-Rahman notes that witch hazel can in fact tighten your vagina. Unfortunately, the effect doesn't last, and witch hazel might also cause vaginal dryness. Dryness, in turn, may lead to itching and dyspareunia (i.e. vaginal pain during intercourse). Which, again, no one wants. "If women use witch hazel to promote vaginal tightening, they should also simultaneously use a vaginal lubricant to maintain proper moisture," suggests Abdur-Rahman.

I promised I'd count the ways witch hazel can help your vagina, and here goes: one, its astringent qualities can reduce pain and swelling postpartum. Two, witch hazel's acidic temperament can help restore the vaginal environment after you give birth. Three, it's useful for hemorrhoids, which are of course the bane of all existence. Four, it may help treat the bacterial vaginosis you thought was a yeast infection, and five, it can tighten your vagina. Just remember to use a lubricant.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Ad failed to load

Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

13 Unique (& Totally Not Mainstream) Mother's Day Gifts For The Hipster Mom

Hipsters thrive on being outside the norm and not really digging anything considered "mainstream." Whether it's in their fashion, what music they listen to, the books they read, or how they enjoy beverages, there's just something that makes them dist…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's How To Introduce Your Pet To Your Baby & Make Everything As Calm As Possible

Our home, which we lovingly refer to as “the funny farm,” is filled with four-legged family members. We have two crazy beagles and two cat jerks, and boy are they loved and spoiled. (As they should be.) But we are now finally having a baby of our own…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's The Right Birth Method For You, According To Your Zodiac Sign

If you're pregnant, you've probably given childbirth some serious thought. Some moms-to-be prepare a meticulous birth plan, while others are comfortable just going with the flow. And me? Well, I made a plan... but that plan was useless when faced wit…
By Steph Montgomery

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills