We’ve all heard the horror stories (or perhaps you’ve been the star of your own) about a night of heated passion taking an uncomfortable - or even dangerous - turn when something went into a vagina that had no business being there at all.

Vaginas are glorious caverns that can accommodate a wide range of sex toys, appendages and lubricants with relative ease - and a whole lot of pleasure. But there are some things that, while at first thought might seem like a good idea to toy with down there, can actually be super harmful. And by harmful I mean painful, damaging or even dangerous.

So, if you want to be sure that your (or your partner’s) vagina stays healthy, happy and ready for any activities that come its way, then you’ll definitely want to steer clear of the following items.

Read: 10 Things You Don't Know About Vaginas

Douches

There's a reason why we call certain people "douche bags;" douches are non-functional, ineffectual and virtually useless. For far too long, douches were an integral part of a woman’s regular hygiene routine as it was a popular belief that they were necessary for keeping a vagina clean. In fact, not only are douches not necessary, they’re actually dangerous. Vaginas are not dirty or smelly and they don't require regimens to keep them that way. In fact, they're pretty self-sufficient and totally self-cleaning. Spraying a douche full of chemical antiseptic and fragrance in there in an attempt to clean them further will only serve to offset the bacterial balance that keeps the vagina healthy and helps prevent bacterial and yeast overgrowth. So, just don't do it.

Vagina Shrink Cream

If you’re not familiar with them, vaginal shrink creams (also called vaginal tightening creams) are topical creams designed to be slathered in and around the vagina. These products claim to make the vaginal canal tighter and many users report that they actually do, indeed, make it feel tighter. But before you head to Amazon to see for yourself, you should be aware of the very real and very serious side effects of these products. Shrink creams contain a slew of chemicals that can mess with the vagina’s pH and even your endocrine system, causing problems that range from minor irritation to full-on infection. They can also mask the symptoms of STIs, which can impede treatment. Plus, the idea that a "tight" vagina is a sign of youth and virginity and something we should all aspire to isn't just bunk, it's offensive.

Read: Vagina Shrink Creams: Why You Should Avoid Them Like the Plague

Tea Tree Oil

From treating acne to repelling insects, tea tree oil is packed with useful benefits, but those benefits definitely don’t carry over to the vagina. Tea tree oil is sometimes touted as a way to “naturally” treat a yeast infection or as a natural lubricant during sex. It isn't. In fact, it can a pretty serious vaginal burn due to its caustic nature. If you’re looking for a natural household lubricant, you want to be sure you’re using pH-neutral oils that won’t mess with the vagina’s balance such as almond oil, coconut oil and olive oil. (And note that oil-based lubes don't jive with latex condoms.)

Chocolate Syrup, Whipped Cream, and Other Sugary Delights

Television and movies have led a lot of us to believe that things like whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and fruit are highly conducive to sex play. In reality, sugary anything inside the vagina will alter the yeast proportions and good bacteria, which can cause irritation and infection. (Plus, do you want to be sticky up there?) That said, you don’t have to take them out of your sex play entirely; they’re totally fine to use on other parts of the body, and even the vulva. Just be sure no sugar makes its way into the vaginal canal, OK?

Read: A Beginner's Guide to Food Play

Anything That Was Just in a Butt

Whether it’s a sex toy, finger, penis, or anything else, once it’s been inside of a butt, it should never go directly into a vagina without being thoroughly washed first. Anal bacteria is much different than the stuff in your vagina and can break down vaginal pH, potentially causing all sorts of painful infections. Anal play is fun. So is vaginal play. Just be careful about mixing the two.

Tampons Dipped in Yogurt

Yes, this is a thing. If you’ve ever sought to ease the profound discomfort that is a yeast infection then you’ve likely come across the popular home remedy of soaking a tampon in yogurt as a natural alternative to treatment. And while it might work in theory, it also runs the risk of causing infection. Yeast and bacteria thrive in moist, cavernous places like the vagina, so unless the yogurt in your fridge has been sterilized (it hasn’t), it’s better to stick with drugstore treatments like Monistat.

Detox Pearls

From detox teas to detox diets, ours is a culture obsessed with ridding our bodies of mysterious “toxins” in an effort to achieve some kind of purity, so it’s no surprise that the trend has made its way to the vagina. Detox pearls are cloth balls filled with herbs that will allegedly reset natural balances and magically regulate the vagina’s processes. But, as mentioned, the vagina is self-cleaning; it doesn’t need additional, miscellaneous “stuff” to make it clean and pure. And trying to “purify” it anyway is, at best, a waste of money and, at worst, potentially dangerous. So, save your detox pearl money and put it toward something that will really make your vagina happy, like a high-quality sex toy.

Steam

Vaginal steaming is another potentially harmful trend that’s been making cultural waves (thanks, Gwyneth Paltrow). Vaginal steaming essentially involves hanging your bits over steaming hot water, often with medicinal herbs included. Much like detox pearls, vaginal steaming is viewed by some as a method of “cleansing” the vagina, which, like we said, already cleans itself. Proponents claim that a regular vaginal steam bath will purify and revitalize the uterus, thereby reducing menstruation pain, despite any hard evidence supporting its efficacy. But this treatment isn’t just a waste of money; it can also rid the vagina of good, infection-fighting bacteria while running the risk of causing serious burns to ladybits and the surrounding areas. Plus, a professional steam can cost big bucks. If you want to "rejuvenate" your nethers, save your money and invest the time is some good sex instead.

So, now that you know what not to put in the vagina, go forth and (safely) enjoy the myriad toys, appendages, and lubes that make it a happy, healthy, and highly pleasurable place to be.