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Is Vocal Fry Bad For Your Vocal Chords?

Want to know if vocal fry is frying your vocal chords? The answer might surprise you.

You may have never heard about vocal fry, but that doesn’t mean you’re not using it when you speak. Knowing more about vocal fry and if it’s bad for your voice and vocal chords is important, to determine if speech therapy is necessary to fix this unique way of speaking.

What is Vocal Fry?

Katy Perry, the Kardashians, and Brittany Spears all have something in common: they use vocal fry. This type of low, breathy, creaky-sounding voice happens when you relax your vocal chords but don’t increase the amount of air you push out when you speak. This creates slower vocal chord vibrations, resulting in the low-creaky sound you hear in many U.S. women—including celebrities—and is an inefficient way to produce sounds.

Who Uses Vocal Fry?

You may use vocal fry (without realizing it) when you speak, subconsciously imitating celebrities or other people you regularly associate with. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Voice found that vocal fry appears to be used more commonly in women than men. This could be due to a new up-and-coming trend among women, or simply imitation of female celebrities and music artists. Some people who speak using vocal fry do so unintentionally.

Is It Bad for My Vocal Chords?

While vocal fry might seem like it could cause problems for your vocal chords, John Hopkins Medicine says vocal fry does not ruin your voice, isn’t harmful to your health, and doesn’t damage vocal chords. But Dr. Jim Daniero, head of the Voice and Swallowing Clinic at the University of Virginia, says vocal fry can cause vocal fatigue—and that people using vocal fry who talk aggressively, talk loudly, and use their voices a lot (as in the case of teachers, professors, coaches, etc.) do have increased risks for vocal chord injuries. If you use vocal fry unintentionally and have difficulty breaking the habit, a speech-language pathologist can often help.

Can It Harm Me in Other Ways?

While vocal fry may not seriously physically harm you, socially and emotionally it could be problematic. A study published in 2014 in the journal Plos One found that in a sample of U.S. adults, people using vocal fry are perceived as being less educated, less competent, less attractive, less trustworthy, and less hireable than those who don’t exhibit vocal fry when they speak. Researchers who conducted the study found that these negative perceptions of vocal fry were more prevalent in women than men, and concluded that women who want to maximize job opportunities should avoid using vocal fry speech if possible.

Should I Use Vocal Fry?

It really isn’t advantageous to use vocal fry unless you’re in the entertainment business (song artist, etc.). While you likely won’t experience serious health concerns when using vocal fry, doing so might make your voice sore or tired—and your personality may not be perceived as well as you’d like, especially if you’re a woman.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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