Detox The Vagina?
I’ve seen a lot of advice online suggesting that women should detox their vaginas. This sounds weird to me, but some of my friends are convinced it is a healthy practice. Is it?
Andrew Weil, M.D. | April 8, 2016
No, it isn’t. I’ve seen the online claims that vaginal "detoxing" is useful for addressing yeast infections, uterine fibroids, infertility, irregular or painful periods and vaginal dryness. But proponents don’t cite scientific evidence for any of this.
One of these practices, vaginal "steaming" involves boiling the herbs mugwort and wormwood and then exposing your vagina to the resulting steam by sitting above the pot. It is advocated by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who has written that a combination of infrared and mugwort "steam cleanses your uterus . . . It is an energetic release – not just a steam douche – that balances female hormone levels." That is ridiculous.
In fact, the most common vaginal infections in premenopausal women are associated with such practices as douching, use of bubble baths, and over-the-counter vaginal care products. Douching can change the necessary balance of bacteria that live in the vagina as well as its normal acidity. (What’s more, a study published in 2015 found that diethyl phthalate (DEP) – an endocrine-disrupting chemical – has been found in some commercial douches.)
Another silly idea is that you can cleanse or tighten your vagina, shrink fibroids, or treat infections by inserting "pearls" of herbs in mesh bags. In a blog post, obstetrician-gynecologist Jen Gunter makes the point that none of the herbs in the pearls have been tested for vaginal use and "could be damaging to (women’s) lactobacilli…or be directly irritating to…the lining (of the vagina) and both of these outcomes will increase (the) risk of infection." Worse, the pearls are supposed to be left in for 3 days, which could itself lead to infection and even toxic shock syndrome.
If there’s anything wrong with the vagina or uterus, your body will let you know with such symptoms as itching, discharge, odor, bleeding or pain, for which you should seek medical attention. The notion that a part of your body is toxic and needs some type of purification is rarely the case. The body – including the vagina – has its own self-cleaning, self-purifying mechanisms. No woman needs the pearls or vaginal steaming.
Andrew Weil, M.D.
Jen Gunter, “Don’t “detox” your vagina or uterus with a bag of herbs in your vagina. Really.” Blog, January 12, 2016, https://drjengunter.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/dont-detox-your-vagina-or-uterus-with-a-bag-of-herbs-in-your-vagina-really/ accessed January 14, 2016