By Kristine Thomason
It seems no matter where you turn, there's a trendy new way to "cleanse" your body. The latest craze: herbal tampons, otherwise known as womb pearls (yes, really). Some bloggers are raving about these so-called vagina detoxifiers, which are essentially mesh baggies stuffed with herbs (such as motherwort and angelica), that claim to help your lady parts flush out harmful microbes and other toxins. To get a professional opinion, we called Jennifer Gunter, M.D., an ob-gyn based in San Francisco. Here, she gives six reasons why using womb pearls is definitely not a good idea.
They don't actually flush out toxins
With all the talk about detoxing these days, it's hard to figure out what's legit. But the answer is simple, says Dr. Gunter: None of it. If toxins (like bacteria) do get into our bodies, we are equipped to dispose of them, she explains, with detoxifying organs like the liver, spleen, kidneys, and colon. The best thing you can do to help your body "cleanse," says Dr. Gunter, is to eat a balanced diet with enough fiber so you colon can do its job effectively.
They might cause a reaction
One blogger wrote that the "toxic discharge" she discovered down there after using herbal tampons was a sure sign of unwanted bacteria escaping her body. But as Dr. Gunter explains, excess mucus is actually a sign of infection or irritation. "Discharge is caused by an irritant that's brought in -- in this case, the mesh bag."
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They're not a magical cure
It's hard to believe, but herbal tampons are touted as a natural remedy for all sorts of health problems: vaginosis, fibroids, infertility, endometriosis -- you name it! These claims are totally unfounded, says Dr. Gunter. "None of these thing have been studied, and you can't even use herbal products to treat most of the conditions they're talking about."
Being all-natural doesn't make them healthy
Some natural products can actually do us more harm than good. Many herbs are irritants, Dr. Gunter points out, and some are even poisonous. "Anyone who has seasonal allergies will tell you plants can be very unfriendly," she adds.
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They could throw your vagina out of whack
Dr. Gunter compares womb pearls to feminine cleansers. "Just like douching damages the good bacteria in the vagina, these [tampons] are likely to do the same," says Dr. Gunter. And once you kill off that good bacteria, it can be hard for your body to replace it. "You could be left with a long-term change in your vaginal discharge, which could increase your risk of developing sexually transmitted diseases or vaginosis."
Another potential danger: toxic shock syndrome, says Dr. Gunter. Retailers instruct you to place this product in your vagina for anywhere from 24 hours to three days!
The contents could be a mystery
You run a risk when you purchase herbal tampons from an independent retailer online, Dr. Gunter points. The packaging might list specific herbs, but how can you be certain about what's inside? The fact is, you never really know.
6 Reasons You Shouldn't Use Herbal Tampons to Detox Your Vagina originally appeared on Health.com.