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12 (More) Reasons to Start a Jade Egg Practice

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We’re never particularly surprised when our stories break the internet, but we were surprised by the reception of the jade egg, which stirred up a formidable debate about the practice. Beauty guru Shiva Rose first turned us on to jade eggs, explaining the Kegel-like practice and the benefits she and others experience: increased sexual energy; toned, tightened muscles; better control of the bladder; a more regular cycle; and perhaps most notably, a sense of connection to themselves and their own inner power.

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We received a lot of notes from readers, including the below from a sexuality coach named Layla Martin, who has studied Tantric and Taoist traditions, and who works to bring practical tools to women (and men) looking to strengthen their sexuality. Martin has been a jade egg practitioner for nearly a decade herself, and teaches a seven-week class on the practice. She answers concerns and questions raised over the eggs and gives more compelling info on the practice, plus her M.O. about staying curious and receptive hit home with us:

A Letter to the Editors

Hi goop,

I saw your article about jade eggs and the subsequent “take-down” across the web. It was heartbreaking to see yet another practice that can be sexually empowering and deeply meaningful to hundreds of thousands of women get treated like it’s idiotic or meaningless just because it doesn’t fit neatly into the mainstream understanding of health and sexuality.

A lot of people have a serious misunderstanding of the jade egg. As someone who has worked with thousands of women in this profound practice, I wanted to offer my perspective and the perspective of other gynecologists and women’s health experts on why jade eggs are both safe and incredibly effective for healing and restoring female sexuality when used properly:

1. Working with a jade egg is more than just putting a stone up your vagina.

There is an entire system, involving squeezing and releasing various muscles inside of the vagina and pelvic floor, in addition to mindfulness training around the sensations inside of the vagina. The 15-30-minute practices that I teach allow a woman to focus on her sexual sensations and connection to her own body while developing sensitivity and awareness. Muscular strength building and increasing sensate focus are scientifically proven strategies for enhancing sexual experiences.

2. Doing a Kegel is not the same thing as using a jade egg.

When people say that a woman should use Kegel weights instead of a jade egg, it reminds me of when people used to say (and some still say): Why would you do yoga? Why not just stretch at the gym? I’ve seen thousands of women start the jade egg practice from a space of disconnection and judgment around their sexuality and transform that into a beautiful celebration and acceptance of their bodies—which I haven’t seen with Kegels alone. Many women also use jade eggs to enhance their sexual experience—to experience greater desire, orgasmic pleasure, and sexual joy. The jade egg practice actually is a system, much like the yoga tradition. It comes from the Taoist tradition in China, was brought to the US mostly through the lineage of the Taoist master Mantak Chia, and has undergone a modern transformation. Just as yoga is a system involving a whole lot more than stretching, there is (again) more to jade eggs than putting a stone up your vagina.

3. There are currently no scientific studies proving (or disproving) the effectiveness of a jade egg practice.

A lack of scientific evidence is not proof of anything if no studies have been conducted. The introduction of many “alternative therapies” is often met with an adverse reaction from the establishment—yoga, meditation, and acupuncture were criticized and dismissed until research showed that there were actual benefits to these ancient practices. (Acupuncture has similar roots to the jade egg in that it is connected to the practice of traditional Chinese medicine.) Jade egg studies are currently underway with pelvic floor specialists and other experts (such as my colleague, Saida Desilets, Ph.D.), and I think this research will demonstrate how effective the process truly is.

At the same time, experience, and the way women feel, matters too. [See #7.] Many experienced the effectiveness of yoga and meditation before science backed them. Subjective experience of benefits and results are powerful indicators that a practice is creating real transformation.

4. The jade egg does not cause toxic shock syndrome.

This is a totally unfounded allegation. (I’d be curious to know if people who proclaim that jade eggs can cause TSS turn their vitriol and righteousness towards tampon sellers, producers, and users.) There is not a single case or study linking the use of jade eggs with TSS. They have been used in the US for more than three decades by tens of thousands of women—with no reported health issues. Is it possible that jade eggs could cause TSS? Saida Desilets and I have asked this question. Here are what experts say:

  • “Toxic shock syndrome is very rare, usually seen in menstruating women using high absorbency tampons, with prolonged use. Although the jade is porous, it is not absorbent. The association of TSS with hyper-absorbable tampons is thought to be due to accumulation of blood in the polyester foam cubes and chips of carboxymethylcellulose; the increased vaginal pH in menstruation from 4.5 to 7.4; and the presence of both oxygen and carbon dioxide in the vagina during menstruation. These factors promote growth conditions for S. aureus (the bacteria responsible). Jade eggs are not worn during menstruation, and do not accumulate blood. They can be boiled regularly for hygiene. Based on these facts, the risk for TSS from proper jade egg use is very low.” — Debra Wickman, M.D., board-certified gynecologist

  • “In all of my years of practice, I have never seen any poor outcomes from women using a jade egg vaginally. Given the inert quality of the stone, I think that the risk of TSS or other infection is negligible.” — Rachel Carlton Abrams, M.D., board-certified in family medicine and integrative medicine, author of BodyWise

  • “After over a decade of clinical experience in gynecology, I feel comfortable recommending the use of a jade egg to my patients. In terms of infection risk, it would seem to pose less risk than other common practices in gynecology such IUDs, which have strings that reside in the vagina for five to ten years.” — Becca Sarich, Yale-trained, certified nurse-midwife

5. A jade egg practice can profoundly alter sexual health and hormones.

The claim that a jade egg practice can affect female hormones sounds less outlandish when you consider that it is a sexual practice with a session typically lasting 15 to 30 minutes. A heterosexual man having a short conversation with a beautiful woman can experience a measurable increase in testosterone. Why wouldn’t a woman engaging in a sexually based activity experience a change in her hormones, too? I have seen time and time again that women who work with the jade egg experience increased energy and sexual health.

6. It’s not all about walking around with the egg inside you.

Walking around with the jade egg inside of you is only a small piece of the practice—much akin to a headstand in yoga, something a woman might potentially work up to. Most of the exercises involve lying down and squeezing and releasing the vaginal muscles, and sometimes lifting weights.

7. Yes, women who use jade eggs report feeling more feminine, more sexy, more alive, and more connected.

I find outrage from a doctor over the idea that a woman could measure her own feminine energy kind of surprising. After all, a patient’s subjective experience matters, and doctors ought to know that. Beliefs matter. Contexts matter. Experiences matter. “Feminine energy” is a concept that some women will recognize immediately and others will categorize as “woo woo.” Regardless, we all know what it’s like to feel more connected, sexy, authentic. So if a woman spends $66 and experiences more energy, pleasure, and joy…why would we attack her for feeling that way? Or make it seem like women aren’t intelligent enough to track their own subjective experiences without an OB/GYN there with a pH stick to confirm it?

8. The jade egg is not a replacement for sound medical interventions or treatments.

Worrying that a woman would choose the jade egg practice over appropriate medical treatment is incredibly paternalistic. Again, I’ll use yoga as a metaphor: It’s like saying people shouldn’t do yoga because there might be some people who use yoga in place of a necessary medical intervention. That’s disempowering to everyone. Of course, teaching or practicing yoga in and of itself isn’t dangerous—the same goes for the jade egg practice, which is also a complementary practice. No competent teacher would recommend these therapies in place of sound medical advice. There is, however, a lot that modern medicine does not offer a woman in regards to her sexuality and libido. Being empowered to support your own sexual health is important, and not in opposition to medical interventions.

9. Ultimately, this backlash was about sexually shaming a woman for sharing her personal experience.

I find it really sad that there was a rallying cry among some news outlets, essentially saying: Hey! A woman had the courage and audacity at goop to write about a sexual practice that she found personally enriching! And now we have a way to make her look like a fool by disempowering her entire personal experience with a quote from a medical professional who declares herself against the practice. This is the way women are, and have been, treated when they talk about their own birth, their own health, and their own sexuality—for way too long.

10. Stay curious.

The medical profession should ideally be a two-way street: Everyone ought to listen. Stay curious about things that you don’t really know the answer to. Yes, we should listen to research. Yes, if something is proven to be harmful, then people should avoid it. But when I see that the opinions (not actual proof) of one gynecologist (who in no way speaks for the whole profession) can cause so many people to discount the personal experiences of tens of thousands of women—that’s the patriarchy right there for you. Please don’t play right into its hands.

Instead of making assumptions, look deeper.

It seems some of the backlash against jade eggs was intended to protect women. But I think it has actually made it harder for women to engage in a practice that might provide them, their bodies, and their lives with incredibly beautiful support. Without really knowing the answers themselves, people tried to shame other women who are clearly interested in advancing the exploration of what is possible for a woman’s sexuality and health outside of the mainstream.

Do jade eggs—and women who write about their benefits—deserve to be questioned? Sure.

Do they deserve to be shamed? Of course not.

11. Listen to the body.

I’ve been a jade egg practitioner for almost ten years. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I found the practice allowed me to gently connect with my body and sexuality in a way that talk therapy did not. (While survivors of sexual trauma should also spend time with qualified therapists to help their healing process, there is no substitute for a daily, embodied self-practice, done in a safe way that brings you a sense of healing and connection.) I’ve experienced so much self-love, sexual pleasure, and joy in my own practice. I’ve seen so many women experience the same. Thousands of women have used this incredible system to help replace sexual shame and self-hate with loving acceptance, and to connect to their vaginas. Many cry during their first practice because they’ve never connected with their own body in such a present, loving, and empowering way.

Of the tens of thousands of jade eggs currently in use, no health problems have ever been reported. I recommend that clients take appropriate hygienic steps before and after use of the egg, such as boiling before first use for ten minutes, and washing in an iodine or betadine solution mixed with water after each use. I don’t recommend that anyone uses a jade egg for longer than 8 hours internally and I only recommend that women wear the jade egg around if they try it and like it and it feels good for them. Women should not use the jade egg if they have serious medical issues or are pregnant without consulting their doctor first. It is also important not to overexert the pelvic floor muscles and to emphasize relaxation as much as strength-building in the process. Anyone looking to work extensively with the egg should consult a qualified teacher to ensure the safety of the practice and, as always, listen to your body.

12. Women are making huge strides to claim their sexuality, their pussies, and their pleasure with pride.

A little humility about what you know and what you don’t—and listening to women themselves—goes a long way. I’m open to asking the important questions about jade eggs to ensure that they are fully safe and that the practice is done in a way that is most supportive to a woman’s health. But I’m not about to buy into a bunch of unsubstantiated fear from a medical professional operating way out of the bounds of their expertise (and without the support of scientific research or evidence). That fear has kept many women silent and disconnected from their own wisdom for far too long.

This is the time for women to claim their sexuality and to redefine how they live and love in their own bodies, according to their own choices. The jade egg practice is uniquely suited to support us, and it ought to be celebrated and embraced.

Warmly,
Layla Martin

The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of goop, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

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