Do You Need This Post-Sex Clean-Up Sponge?
Meet the Dripstick
If you’re someone who has sex with people who own vaginas, it would behoove you to keep a few essential items at home for your company’s convenience. Inexpensive items like a toothbrush and tampons could make a lasting impression, while sexual wellness products like clean lubricants or arousal gels are essential. (Maybe even keep their favorite sex toy/vibrator handy.) All of this is to say, if you want to continue to have good sex in the comfort of your own home, you need to keep the proper equipment stocked. But what about in the immediate aftermath of ejaculation? Do you have post-coital sex wipes? Some mouthwash? A Dripstick, perhaps?
You may have come across advertisements on Instagram and TikTok for something that looks identical to a tampon but has an entirely different, unique function: the Dripstick. Its purpose? To simplify post-sex cleanup by removing excess fluid (aka semen) from the vaginal canal and eliminating the risk of your partner dripping cum all over the floor on the way to the bathroom.
The sponge is sold by Awkward Essentials, a female-founded company whose mission is to provide “personal solutions for hella personal problems” and claims its primary product is “the world’s first after-sex clean up sponge.” Like many brands vying for Gen Z’s purchasing power, the company, which was founded in 2019, has taken to TikTok for promotion and has managed to find success in garnering public attention. The brand’s most-watched TikTok video, which was posted in May 2021, received 20.7 million views and 2.9 million likes. Still, the product has been met with mixed reactions both from experts and consumers.
Frances Tang, founder and CEO of Awkward Essentials, says the inspiration to put an absorbent medical-grade sponge on a stick was born from two things: her hatred of the post-coital clean-up ritual and her love of baking.
“The crossed-leg-ninja roll off the bed, penguin walk to the bathroom, and camp out on the toilet was not the business. My hacked-together solution of toilet paper, crusty old T-shirts, towels and showers still inevitably led to next day gushing, wet sheets and ruined underwear, Tang said in an interview.
“Like many founders, I’ve had a lot of jobs. One of them was as a baker. There is a very common kitchen tool called a rubber spatula and it’s typically used to scrape all the last bits of cake batter out of a bowl … So every time I would scrape batter out of a bowl, I’d think about inventing a spatula to get all the last bits of goo out of my vagina…”
Now that we’ve thoroughly ruined baking for you, let’s get into the real meat and potatoes: Should you, a considerate, sex-having gentleman, provide Dripsticks for the people into whom you ejaculate?
Maybe, but experts are not entirely convinced.
“The Dripstick is a novel idea but not very necessary,” says Dr. Monica Grover, OBGYN at VSPOT Medical Spa.
“It may be a preference for some people, but [it’s] nothing a washcloth or tissues by the bed couldn’t do without adding to plastics in our landfills,” adds Dr. Lora Shahine, a reproductive endocrinologist and the host of Baby or Bust, a new podcast centered around fertility launching January 19th.
The environmental impact of something like a Dripstick, as Shahine notes, is certainly something to take into consideration. It’s also one reason some consumers are turned off by the product (at least according to the comments left on Awkward Essentials’ TikTok videos.) Another concern is how it could potentially cause irritation in the vagina.
“Theoretically removing healthy bacteria along with secretions after sex could lead to a higher risk of infection and irritation,” explains Shahine, who admits that while she is not aware of any research into the safety of the Dripstick, the product is “most likely not harmful if used as directed.”
The Dripstick, says Grover, is purely for comfort and preference. It’s not meant to be used as a form of birth control or STD/STI prevention, as its product description warns. The vagina is also a self-cleaning organ that doesn’t require you to scoop secretion out of it if you don’t want to.
“Seminal fluids have natural enzymes and an alkaline pH which is ideally meant to work with a woman’s vaginal pH,” says Grover. “Ejaculate in itself does not typically cause irritation unless the pH is too alkaline or there are microbes such as STIs, which can lead to vaginal irritation.”
Still, dealing with the ramifications of where you boys dump your cum is usually left to the woman, so if you’ve noticed your sexual partner(s) complaining about clean-up, specifically this facet of clean-up, take the hint and buy her a pack of Dripsticks, or at the very least have a conversation about it.
But the tissues and towels you’re already using are likely getting the job done just fine — and they aren’t causing any more plastics to be dumped in our landfills.
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