A doctor is warning against a new strange trend that suggests ground-up wasp nests help tighten the vagina. Canadian gynecologist Dr. Jen Gunter is warning against the trend, claiming it causes serious side effects.

Some natural ingredients are usually used in home remedies. However, the new “boom” involves oak galls, nests which house wasp eggs.

Image credit: Wikipedia
Image credit: Wikipedia

A few online retailers, such as Etsy, have been selling the oak galls, which according to them, should be ground into a paste for “vaginal rejuvenation.” Oak galls are formed when a gall wasp lays eggs in a tree’s leaf buds and then larva develops inside the gall.

Oak galls can increase pain during sex and risk of contracting HIV

The oak galls paste, according to retailers, restores the uterine wall after childbirth, heals an episiotomy cut and cleans the vagina. However, Dr. Gunter is now strongly discouraging women from using the oak galls, as it can lead to side effects like painful sex, lack of healthy bacteria and an increased risk of getting HIV.

“This product follows the same dangerous pathway of other ‘traditional’ vaginal practices,” said Dr. Gunter on her blog. “Drying the vaginal mucosa increases the risk of abrasions during sex (not good) and destroys the protective mucous layer (not good).”

Dr. Gunter also noted that the product could “wreak havoc” with the right bacteria in the vagina, as well as increase the risk of HIV transmissions. She added that it’s a dangerous practice with real potential to harm.

Female Renewal Solution, a health website, says that oak gall can help prevent cervical cancer, claiming that is all you need to make the vagina tighter instantly and overnight. On the other hand, an Etsy retailer called HeritageHealthShop advertises the product citing South East Asia Medicine claims that the galls can improve sex lives and be used on cuts.

The retailer, which has sold out of the oak galls, recommended grinding the balls into a paste to be applied to episiotomy cuts, or a surgical cut in the muscular area placed between the vagina and the anus. The procedure used to be done before delivery to enlarge the vaginal opening to prevent the vagina from tearing during childbirth. HeritageHealth Shop warns the paste will hurt when applied due to the ‘galls’ powerful astringent.’

“Here’s a pro-tip, if something burns when you apply it to the vagina it is generally bad for the vagina,” stated Dr. Gunter.

Lactobacillus is considered ‘good bacteria’

The human vagina is unique, even compared with those of other mammals. Most mammalian vaginas contain a diverse mix of bacteria, as they are warm and moist canals exposed to things like penises, babies, and dirt. However, for most women, one or several species of Lactobacillus has become the dominant bacterial resident.

Image credit: Huffpost
Image credit: Huffpost

Lactobacillus is a bacteria that pumps out lactic acid, which keeps the vaginal environment an acidic, low pH that kills or discourages other bacteria and viruses from thriving.

Some studies have even suggested that certain Lactobacillus species reinforce the mucus in the vagina, which acts as a natural barrier to invaders. Researchers studying all Lactobacillus bacteria have realized that there are several types of it. In a 2011 study, scientists found five different types of bacterial community. While several Lactobacillus species dominated four of those, the fifth contained a mix of potentially harmful microbes, may of which are associated with bacterial vaginosis.

Other vaginal products can be harmful to women

It is not the first time the gynecologist has warned women about products claiming to dry, clean or tighten the vagina. Last year she cautioned women not to use herbal “womb detox” products, as they were risking health problems such as toxic shock syndrome. The product, dubbed the Herbal Womb Detox Pearls, are still being sold around the world by Florida-based company Embrace Pangaea. The site says the womb detox products can help with conditions like endometriosis, ovarian cysts, fibroids, and thrush.

The product consists of bags of fragrant herbs, which are directed to be used three at a time for 72 hours, as the ‘pearls’ supposedly cleanse the womb and help to flush out toxins. The company also says that by tightening the womb, the vaginal canal shrinks and results in “heightened sexual pleasure.” The site does warn virgins, pregnant women or breastfeeding women against using the product.

Dr. Gunter claimed the ‘pearls’ were ineffective and that inserting anything into the vagina for too long was dangerous and smelly. She described the vagina as a self-cleaning oven and noted that inserting herbs into it is likely to interfere with its natural balance. The good bacteria can be damaged by doing so, or the lining can get irritated, increasing the risk of contracting an infection.

“Leaving a product that is not designed for prolonged vaginal use (and these are not) in the vagina is a risk for toxic shock syndrome,” wrote Dr. Gunter on her blog. “Just don’t do it.”

Source: Daily Mail