Please Don't Put Garlic In Your Vagina

Photographed by Jessica Nash.
In the list of things you shouldn't put in your vagina, here's one we never thought we'd have to explain: garlic. But, as Jen Gunter, MD, writes in a recent blog post, women are attempting to treat vaginal yeast infections with garlic. And no, that is definitely not a good idea.

Yeast is a fungus, so yeast infections are fungal infections. And garlic does seem to have some anti-fungal properties, which is where the whole clove-in-vag theory comes from, Dr. Gunter explains. But there are more than a few issues here.

First off, you'll have to chop the garlic up to get any sort of effect. "So putting whole clove in your vagina will do nothing except expose your inflamed vagina to the possible soil bacteria (like Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes botulism) that still could be clinging to the garlic," writes Dr. Gunter.

But if you're planning to chop up your cloves, stuff 'em in gauze, and then put that inside you, that's also not a great idea: The garlic won't be in close contact with your tissue, so it's unlikely to have any major effects, and the fibers from the gauze may cause irritation.

The best way to treat recurrent yeast infections is still with the help of a medical professional. Dr. Gunter suggests asking your doctor to take a swab of the yeast in your vagina to make sure that a yeast infection is really to blame for your issues. These can be easily confused with other conditions, such as bacterial vaginosis (which requires antibiotics, not anti-fungal medications), so getting an accurate diagnosis is key. If it's a recurrent infection, testing to reveal the specific strain of fungus causing the infection can help your doctor pick appropriate (and more targeted) medications.

Of course, you can always just eat the garlic. Studies haven't found any conclusive evidence that doing so will affect the yeast in your vagina, but that doesn't make your favorite pesto taste any less good.

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