Good news – ESSENCE’s “Ask An OB-GYN” series is back to bring you very public answers to some of your most private questions. When sexual and vaginal health concerns arise, renowned Obstetrics and Gynecology physician Dr. Tosha Rogerswants to ensure you have the answers you need to feel at ease. If you have a sexual health concern or question you want to swing her way, we’ve got you covered.  Email [email protected]with “Ask An OB-GYN” in the subject line and ask away!

Q: I’ve seen detox pearls being advertised everywhere, including social media. They claim to aid in womb health by helping rid your vagina of yeast, old blood clots, dead cells and other “build up.” The question is…do detox pearls really work?

A: This is such a touchy topic. Physicians think the entire idea of detox pearls is absolute foolishness. Patients think doctors’ disproval of them is just a big master plan to hide the silver bullet. But the truth is, it’s not!

For those who may be unfamiliar with detox pearls, they are small cloth-covered balls packed with herbs like Mothersworth, Rhizoma, Angelica, Osthol and Borneol. This cocktail of herbs is promised to rid the uterus and vagina of “toxins,” negative emotions, hormonal imbalances, fibroids, and endometriosis. They also claim to improve fertility and regulate the menstrual cycle. No scientific studies have shown that these herbs help any of those problems. They have been found beneficial in general medicine, but not for the conditions they’re advertised to address. 

Yes, our sisters are searching for natural and effective ways of resolving “recurrent” problems, and companies play on the word “detox” because whenever we think of that term, it has to be good… right? Yes, in some cases. However, that term doesn’t exist with respect to the female reproductive organs. I incorporate as much holistic medicine into my practice as possible, but the concept behind the detox pearls makes no sense.

As a provider, I’m asked about detox pearls all the time. In the spirit of understanding and supporting my patients, I try to listen to all of their questions, but truthfully, there are no “toxins” to speak of. Seriously…name one! The uterus and vagina are self-cleansing. Yes, infection does occur from time to time, but that can’t be cured by the pearls. It has to be treated medically – always! I have seen the graphic pictures online of what the pearls have allegedly extracted out of the vagina. To some people, that signifies that the pearls have worked the magic they’ve promised (likely a placebo effect). This has never been confirmed. In fact, detox pearls pose a risk of harming the vagina, since the mesh cloth can scratch the vaginal walls increase your risk of toxic shock syndrome (the same can happen with a tampon that’s inserted for more than 24 hrs.)

To put it plainly, my advice is to stay away from detox pearls and instead, work with your OB-GYN to keep your area down there healthy and happy.

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