On lizards in the vagina and other pearls of misinformation

On lizards in the vagina and other pearls of misinformation

Dr Daryl DALEY

Monday, January 25, 2021

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A couple of weeks ago I was packing up to leave my office when I received a frantic phone call from a patient. “Dr Daley, have you left? Please I'm begging you, don't leave I have to see you now! I'll be there in five minutes.” Knowing this patient well, I said to myself, this is serious, let me hang around to see her to alleviate the problem. “No problem!” I replied.

Blazing into the office like a hurricane, the first thing I noticed was that she seemed very uncomfortable as she sat down; she was in obvious discomfort. “Dr Daley, my vagina is on fire! It feels like it's in the oven at 500 degrees”. She later admitted to me that a friend had introduced her to 'vaginal pearls' which she admitted she used one day prior. Examination revealed very inflamed genitalia with a very thick and purulent discharge with some remnants of cloth, which I removed.

This patient is not the first patient I have seen with this kind of reaction secondary to this new phenomenon made popular on social media and at discussions with women at social settings. Women need to be made aware of what these products really are, and their potential harm.

Vaginal pearls or detox pearls are small, cloth-covered balls packed with herbs such as mothersworth, rhizoma, angelica, osthol and borneol. This cocktail of herbs and spices (sounding as if the Colonel of KFC invented same) promises to rid the uterus and vagina of “toxins”, negative emotions, hormonal and vaginal imbalances, fibroids and endometriosis. They also allegedly can cure infertility and regulate the menstrual cycle. These “magical herbs” have not been scientifically proven to alleviate any of the above — they are more a marketing moniker. I can understand why some women who have recurrent problems that their doctors can't seem to treat, seek refuge in these new products, but this is not a good alternative.

These days “detox cleansers” (colon, gastric, etc) which purport to cleanse the system of bacteria and allegedly improve health are rampant on the market and many people are consuming same. They are marketed as “quick fixes”, and same goes for vaginal products. With regards to female reproductive health, the term “toxins” just don't exist. My simple mind is trying to grasp how these herbs miraculously absorb into the female reproductive system and cure many female conditions for which traditional medicine and surgery have been beneficial and scientifically proven for years.

Let's get back to basics —the vagina contains thousands of natural bacteria and fungi called commensals which make up its natural flora. These commensals are responsible for keeping the vagina balanced and thus, self-cleaning. When an irritant such as a foreign body (semen, perfume, scented deodorant/soap, moistness for prolonged periods, etc) alters the vaginal environment, the balance in the vagina can shift, resulting in discharges such as bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections (or a combination of both). With that simple explanation given, it makes absolute sense why when “foreign cloth with herbs” are placed into the vagina, that uncomfortable and acute mixed vaginal infections can occur. Not everything is to be placed into the vagina!

This scenario is not limited to pearls, but other fads also exist to cure female reproductive problems naturally which can cause a similar vaginal reaction as above by altering the vaginal environment — all of which the evidence is limiting or non-existent.

Boric Acid is used to kill roaches. Separate and apart from that, it can alter the flora of the vagina. Why would one want to put roach killer into the most intimate female body part?

Vaginal steaming is also a new fad where similar herbs are steamed into the vagina as the patient sits on a steam seat to accommodate same. In addition to disturbing the flora, I've personally treated patients for burns of the vagina after they have conducted this procedure.

Douching involves rinsing the vagina with chemicals to make the vagina clean. This does not need to be done. The vagina cleans itself naturally and douching again can alter the vaginal flora.

Last but not least, do not put garlic, lizard, cloves or aloe in the vagina. These items were not intended for vaginal use (especially the lizard).

Some may argue that they have had good success in naturally treating their reproductive problems with these items... my response is, God can cure all things and as a physician I've seen it many times.

Trust the science. Protect your vagina. Seek professional advice before putting foreign bodies into the vagina.

Dr Daryl Daley is a cosmetic gynaecologist and consultant OBGYN at Gynae Associates, 23 Tangerine Place, Kingston 10, and shops 46-50, Portmore Town Centre. He can be reached at 929-5038/9, 939-2859, 799-0588 or drdaryldaley@gmail.com.

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