UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: Vaginal Detox?

Keywords: Vaginal pearls, intravaginal foreign bodies (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/20/2017 by Kathy Prybys, DO (Emailed: 7/21/2017) (Updated: 7/21/2017)
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Vaginal douching is a common and potentially dangerous practice. Women engage in this practice predominately for personal hygiene reasons but also with the false belief it will prevent or treat infections and for contraception. Numerous public health agencies and medical societies discourage douching as it has been associated with many adverse outcomes including pelvic inflammatory disease, bacterial vaginosis, cervical cancer, low birth weight, preterm birth, human immunodeficiency virus transmission, sexually transmitted diseases, ectopic pregnancy, recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis, and infertility.

An increasing fad is the use of intravaginal detox products. Claiming to enhance female health by removing toxins, these mesh cloth-covered balls containing herbs such as mothersworth, osthol, angelica, borneol, and rhizoma, not FDA-approved, are inserted into the vagina for 3 days. Clinical experience demonstrates these products decompose into numerous pieces which become scattered retained intravaginal foreign bodies, cause mucosal irritation, and thereotically could serve as a nidus for serious infections.






Vaginal Douching: Evidence for Risks or Benefits to Women’s Health. Martino JL, Vermund SH. Epidemiologic Reviews. 2002;24(2):109-124.


Vaginal Douching Practices of Women in Eight Florida Panhandle Counties. Hansen CB. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing. 2006 Vo. 35 , Issue 1 , 24 - 33.


Vaginally inserted herbs causing vesico-vaginal fistula and vaginal stenosis. Adaji SE, Bature SB, et al. Int Urogynecol J. 2013 Jun;24(6), 1057-8.


Douching, Talc use, and risk of ovarian cancer. Gonzalez NL, O'Brien KM, et al. Epidemiology, 2016. Nov ;27(6): 797-802.