Doctors are warning women to stay away from a popular herbal supplement that claims to help aspiring moms solve their fertility issues.
According to Seventeen, “herbal womb detox pearls” have become the latest holistic trend in curing “vaginal imbalances.”
These pearls, which can be found on sites like Etsy and Amazon for anywhere from $15 to $480, claim to “cleanse the womb and return it to a balance[d] state.”
The herb-filled pearls are supposed to be inserted directly into the vagina for 72 hours, which is why women who use them are strongly advised to wear pantyliners for the next several days.
While the different herb combinations swear to help any problem from yeast infections and endometriosis to unpleasant odors and fertility, many OB/GYNs are urging women not to try them.
According to Dr. Jen Gunter, an OB/GYN, the pearls—which have not been formally tested—are actually more likely to increase the risk of infection.
“What happens when you leave something in a vagina for 3 days is that anaerobic (not good) bacteria grow,” Dr. Gunter wrote in her blog. “I have removed many retained tampons over my career and the smell is so bad we typically have to close the exam room for the rest of the day. Yes, you read that right. Bad bacteria smells bad – this smell alerts you there is a serious issue somewhere.”
While the pearls are marketed as some sort of herbal “detox,” Dr. Gunter says the contents inside could potentially cause a woman to develop toxic shock syndrome.
“The vagina makes excess discharge when there is A) irritation B) infection C) an absence of good bacteria,” she wrote. “This discharge isn’t some toxic swill that the vagina was hiding that only the ‘pearls’ could release, it’s a sign that these ‘pearls’ are damaging.”