There’s no shortage of detoxes this time of year. The ones you’ve likely heard of promise to help you shed those holiday pounds.
Less known — but no more effective and actually carrying a “high risk of harm,” according to experts — is the “herbal womb detox.”
One of the claims is that your vagina will carry that nice floral smell, which will disappear shortly after you take the herbs out.
The makers recommend you insert three pearls into your vagina, and keep them there for a minimum of three days.
They’re meant to fix a whole whack of “major imbalances” down there, like foul odour, yeast infections, endometriosis, bacteria vaginosis and fibroids.
Housed in an organic cotton mesh encasing, the pearls are packed with herbs which the company claims can do everything from tighten your vagina, rejuvenate your womb by “toning, lubricating and increasing elasticity,” regulate menstruation, improve fertility, relieve itching, and reduce uterine discharge.
But prepare for a torrent of discharge when you take the pearls out. We’ll spare you the photos, which can be found here if you’re brave enough to see them.
“Our herbs are a tool to aid you in releasing toxins from the body,” said Tamieka Atkinson, who came up with the idea for the product with her “sister friends.”
It was born out of the 24-year-old’s frustration with traditional medicine. Atkinson, who claims to have a degree in Chemistry and Psychology, said alternative medicine is part of her Jamaican culture.
For over two years, though, she said she used conventional medicine to try and cure her bacterial vaginosis — a condition she believes was introduced into her vagina by her boyfriend’s “toxic environment.”
Then in Jan. 2015, she worked with a manufacturer to create the detox pearls.
Four months later, she began selling them through her company Embrace Pangea. She initially created the company to sell clothing like loose skirts, “which help vaginal health because air gets in there.”
At no point in her creation of the detox pearls did she consult a gynecologist or medical professional because she claims their philosophy on natural remedies would differ from hers.
That hasn’t stopped people from buying her product. While she said she doesn’t keep track of how many detoxes she’s sold, she claims to have had more than 370 clients since April 2015.
Her product is available on her site as well as Etsy.
Three pearls will set you back $30. If you go for a “monthly womb maintenance package,” prepare to pony up $75 for a 12-pack.
What gynecologists say
In a nutshell: save your money.
“This is not a good thing,” said San Francisco-based gynecologist Dr. Jen Gunter.
“It kind of looks a bit like vaginal potpourri.”
First off, she feels detox is a bogus term and basically code for lightening your wallet.
Second of all, she stresses that the vagina is a self-cleaning oven.
“I think there’s this misconception that a vagina is not supposed to have discharge. It is,” she added.
She also worries that since the product is completely untested, it can actually irritate the vagina.
“The herbs or mesh can … be damaging to good bacteria to the vagina,” she said.
She explained that the good bacteria act as gatekeepers. In part, they help maintain vaginal pH and can kill bad bacteria.
So a lack of the good bacteria could actually put you at a greater risk of developing a yeast infection, or even gonorrhea or Chlamydia if you’re exposed to it.
READ MORE: Vagina Pilates? What you need to know
Oh, and there’s also this:
“Leaving a mesh bag in your vagina for three days could leave you at risk for toxic shock syndrome.”
And that can lead to death.
Atkinson doesn’t believe her product could ever cause TSS because she feels that, unlike a tampon, it doesn’t absorb anything.
Both she and Gunter agree on the fact that women shouldn’t self-diagnose. According to research Gunter cited, women are wrong 50 to 70 per cent of the time they try to self-diagnose vaginal issues, because the symptoms for many problems can be identical.
On her site, Atkinson recommends prospective customers see a doctor and do their research.