Health practitioners are cautioning the public about a new fad known as the "womb detox," where women insert herbal cleansing balls into their vagina to treat common conditions, such as endometriosis, thrush and ovarian cysts, reported Independent on Saturday.
A variety of packaged herbal cleansing balls are now being sold in the market for $85 to $480, each claiming a purpose, from correcting conditions by getting rid of toxins to tightening the vaginal wall.
Experts claim that the method could cause irritation and can even lead to the life-threatening toxic shock syndrome.
"Your uterus isn't tired or depressed or dirty and your vagina has not misplaced its chakra," wrote gynecologist Dr. Jen Gunter on a blog post. "They want no real help from you unless there is something wrong and they will tell you there is something wrong by bleeding profusely or itching or cramping badly or producing an odor."
Head of communications for the sexual health charity FPA Bekki Burbidge also discourages women from doing the womb detox.
"The vagina is very good at cleaning itself and using perfumed products can upset the balance of the normal bacteria, rather than help," she noted. "Perfumed products have been linked to bacterial vaginosis, which is the most common cause of unusual vaginal discharge, and can also increase the risk of developing thrush."
"If women are concerned about the smell of discharge or notice a change from their normal discharge, it's important not to try and mask this with products as it could be linked to an infection - instead, it's a good idea to get checked out by a doctor," Burbidge added. "The best way to wash this part of the body is to use plain, unperfumed soap and water to clean the vulva (external female genitals). There is no need to use water or products to flush or detox inside the body."
Meanwhile, herbal cleansing ball manufacturer Embrace Pangea defended its product noting that they are encouraging their clients to embrace natural living.
"Our Herbal Womb Detox Pearls is simply a natural herbal alternative that women can make a conscious and informed decision in using," said Tamieka Atkinson, owner of Embrace Pangea. "With all our clients, we do advise them that we are not medical professionals, and that they should seek assistance from their doctor."