Misleading marketing claims have landed Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop in hot water over jade vagina eggs. But it hasn't deterred writer Sophie Benge. Here's how and why she became a jade egg fan
It’s hard, smooth and helps me with orgasms and is a regular part of my before-sleep routine. But it’s not what I bet you think it is! It’s my beloved jade vagina egg.
I hear your suspicion. Barely anyone, wellness devotee or not, escaped the furore last year that drenched actress Gwyneth Paltrow and her wellness website Goop, which used to sell jade eggs, but now doesn’t, following prosecution by a Californian court due to the claims made for their benefits. Suggestions that they could ‘increase vaginal muscle tone, hormonal balance and feminine energy’ landed Goop with a $145,000 fine for ‘promising health benefits without the support of good science,’ according to the county district attorney who passed the ruling. Buyers were refunded ($66) and eggs are no more on Goop.
In the wake of the judgement, the medical profession responded vociferously, with doctors claiming variously that jade egg practices were ‘garbage’, ‘a hoax’, a ‘placebo affect’ and cause ‘potential harm’ if left in for any length of time. American gynaecologist Dr Jen Gunter wrote a blog post that went viral called “Dear Gwyneth Paltrow I’m a gyn and your vaginal jade eggs are a bad idea."
It was said that jade eggs originated from Chinese Taoist masters, who allegedly taught these practices to concubines. To this, came accusations of a ‘modern marketing myth.’
I take a deep breath and bow in respect to doctors. But I have a different view after using a jade egg - on and off - for the last eight years without any negative effects.
I discovered jade eggs before the Paltrow furore. My intuitive decision to buy one came at the end of a female sexuality workshop, which left me in tears of sad realisation that, despite being in my 40s, I had cut myself short on orgasmic pleasure. There was more to experience and the egg was offered as one way to help. The £40 experiment was a no-brainer.
When the press brouhaha hit last year - that using a jade egg could cause infection, tension in the pelvic floor, even toxic shock syndrome - I sought out Dr Annie Neill, a gynaecologist who is a specialist in menopause and post-reproductive healthcare and who practices in Cambridge. No, she wouldn’t actively recommend a woman to use one because there have been no double-blind, randomised controlled trials but yes, the principle of the jade egg exercises for toning the pelvic floor muscles was good, she said.
“People go off the boil: thinking about a dinner party or picking up the kids, that they don’t connect with their bodies,” says Dr Neill. “Using a jade egg, or doing anything, to help re-engage with your vulva and pelvis and trigger a fantasy process, so important in the complex equation of our sexuality, is something I would advocate.”
There are specific squeezing, pelvic tilting and rotation exercises that teachers of jade egg practices share
She personally suggests ‘weighted vaginal cones’ or Kegel exercises for pelvic floor toning because, she’s ‘slightly concerned’ by the porous nature of jade that could allow the eggs to absorb bacteria latent in the vagina, and so potentially lead to infection such as bacterial vaginosis. I clean mine meticulously by immersing it for 10 minutes in boiling water before use and washing meticulously in organic soap and water after use and have not suffered any ill effects from sleeping with it in (but everyone should take medical advice and make their own choice).
Dr Neill also mentioned that occasional patients at her sexual health clinic bring up the fact that when they use a jade egg it can have a climatic effect!
So what exactly is it like? The 35mm long jade egg comes with a hole in the narrow end, through which you thread a longish string of unwaxed dental floss, ends tied together by a knot. This way, as with a tampon, it doesn’t get lost. I warm the egg in my hands and breathe deeply into my belly with an invisible inner smile (a way of sensing whether my body wants to take it in). Sometimes I rub it with coconut oil as lubrication.
There are specific squeezing, pelvic tilting and rotation exercises that teachers of jade egg practices share. It’s said that if pelvic floor muscles are weak, they are less able to support orgasm. A 20-minute exercise series every other day is suggested. I don’t have the time or inclination for such dedication, so for me it's an occasionally nightly ritual.
Using a jade egg is about honouring my feminine energy; it’s as much an exercise around self-love and empowerment through physical connection with this part of my body as it is an exercise in toning my pelvic floor muscles and physically exploring the different areas of my vulva, by doing the exercises I was shown by Kalindi Jordan , a teacher in sensuality. She advises 20 minutes at a time to experience the egg. She also talks about the emotional trauma we hold in our vaginal tissue and I’ve felt tight areas soften and yield with practice over time.
Jade is an ancient crystal that’s said to be healing and to absorb negative energy. It's one of various rituals I dip into to connect mindfully with my body. Has it souped up my orgasm barometer? I definitely feel more sensation and I’m more in tune with my sexual energy. My whole pelvic area feels more multi-dimensional, alive and vibrant not just during sex but frankly, during the day too. As a result, I feel more plugged into life.
I've now set about bringing various practitioners, including Kalindi Jordan and Dr Neill, together to share their knowledge with other women on weekend. During Kalindi Jordan’s jade egg workshop, initial apprehension gives way to a desire to explore. Those who choose to give it a go file up the stairs to bed with a teaspoon of coconut oil for lubrication in one hand, their new egg in the other. Talk over breakfast is animated and positive. I’m a firm believer in connecting with our innate feminine energy as a route to finding flow and increased feelings of joy in mid-life.
What’s the response I receive if I mention my love for my egg to uninitiated ears? It's polarising for sure. My boyfriend held it in his hands and asked the questions you might expect, without judgement (I took this as a sign that as a self-aware and curious woman I naturally would attract an open-minded and enlightened man!). When I was away, he messaged me: “Oh to be an egg now!”
Sophie Benge is an author and international wellness expert consulting for spas and wellness brands. She runs Ageing Gracefully retreats to inspire women to celebrate their middle years.
Follow Sophie on Instagram @sophiebenge
Jade eggs and instruction on how to use from Kalindi Jordan
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