THE DETOX CRAZE finally reached the Deep South this year, and I’m not talking about Louisiana. A company called Embrace Pangea now sells “herbal womb detox pearls” to help treat “bacterial vaginosis, foul odor, yeast infections, endometriosis, and fibroids.” The cost is $15 for one pearl — a one-day treatment — or you can get an even dozen for $75. What a steal, amirite?
Except that, y’know, your vagina and uterus don’t actually need to be detoxed. Just like the rest of your body, those organs have to be “toxed” in order to require a detox treatment — this being the way that words work. Unless you’ve sucked a few mercury thermometers dry, you don’t actually have toxins in your body that your organs can’t get rid of on their own. And even if you did, shoving a rather rough-looking bag of herbs into your vagina would not be a method of fixing your problem. In fact, products like these herbal womb detox pearls might actually cause some of the conditions they claim to treat.
Your vagina is a self-cleaning organism, where bacteria and fungi live together in perfect, pH-balanced harmony. Too much of one or the other can cause unwanted conditions, which may require medical treatment, but the thing is: you’ll know. You will absolutely, 100-percent know that you have bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection. Even if you can’t self-diagnose such things, you will know that something is out of whack in your vagina, because it will burn, or itch, or have a funky smell. Trust me, toxins aren’t just lurking around in secret, waiting on you to suck them out with herbs.
But when you go shoving a bunch of weird plant matter into your vagina, and leaving it there for a whole day, you’re inviting a slew of problems to crawl up in there and rot. Jezebel notes that “[t]he textured mesh wrapping of the pearls may irritate and scratch your vaginal walls, increasing susceptibility to infection.” That’s right: that rough-looking gauze that covers each of the herbal womb detox pearls could create microabrasions and tears inside your vagina, making you more likely to develop — or contract — bad bacterial infections.
To make matters worse, it’s clear that Embrace Pangea has absolutely no idea what’s actually going on when it comes to female genitalia. The cover image for their herbal womb detox pearl instructional video — which you can view at the Jezebel link above — advertises the product as beneficial in the treatment of “Fibriods [sic].” The retailer also displays a functional ignorance of female anatomy when it instructs users to place the pearls in their wombs. It might be an old word, but “womb” really means nothing more or less than “uterus.” As a woman who has had two IUDs inserted and removed, let me tell you: you’d have to be pretty damn determined to shove a sack of herbs through the opening of your cervix.
This isn’t what Embrace Pangea wants you to do, of course. By “womb,” they mean “vagina,” or perhaps they’re referring to the entire reproductive system. Who knows?
Laughable spelling errors and anatomical ignorance aren’t the biggest problems with Embrace Pangea and its product, however. What’s truly insidious is the fact that, to someone who doesn’t understand how her vagina works, the herbal womb detox pearls could appear to — gulp — work.
Images posted on the retailer’s website claim to show toxins extracted by the pearls, in the form of bloody and otherwise discolored discharge. However, as OB/GYN Jen Gunter points out, “[t]he vagina makes excess discharge when there is A) irritation B) infection C) an absence of good bacteria,” which means that “[t]his 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.”
Herbal womb detox pearls aren’t the only questionable vaginal product to recently enter the market, however. A company called Floria Relief now offers marijuana suppositories it claims will ease menstrual cramps. Now, I’m not generally one to dispute when someone says that marijuana relieves their pain, but this product gave me pause.
It’s a fact that marijuana was used for menstrual relief centuries ago, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t help out women today. But Floria Relief’s product is both expensive and unregulated, which means users are shelling out a lot of cash for suppositories that have not been proven safe for use inside their vaginas. Furthermore, even the benign-sounding, non-cannabinoid ingredients could interfere with a woman’s natural vaginal balance and lead to infection.
Look, I don’t want to tell anyone what they can or cannot do with their vagina, but I do believe that people should be empowered to make educated decisions. And the truth is, your vagina probably doesn’t need you to put anything non-human in it.