Health Wellness
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We’ve all seen some wild stuff out on this here internet, but one of the most sinister things lurking in plain sight is the wealth of bogus health information. While Twitter is in no way the best source for health-related advice, a gynecologist took it upon herself to debunk an old-wives-tale-turned-at-home-internet-remedy in a Twitter thread entitled, “Why you should not put garlic in your vagina.”

Yes, seriously. Apparently there were people out there suggesting that inserting garlic into your vagina is a “natural at-home remedy” for a yeast infection.

Canadian-born OB/GYN Dr. Jennifer Gunter frequently uses her platform to debunk false health claims and did so this week in eight tweets where she explained that not only will inserting garlic into your vagina not cure a yeast infection, it opens you up to a host of other, more serious problems. She explains that while garlic contains an anti-fungal compound, it won’t work in the way you might want it to.

Gunter added that the anecdotal evidence online can be explained simply—women probably either experienced a placebo effect after using the garlic or didn’t have a yeast infection to begin with (it’s easy to mistake vaginal discomfort for an infection if you’re not a doctor).

The bottom line: see a doctor before self-diagnosing and self-medicating.

While many Twitter-users were horrified that, in the year 2019, Gunter even needed to address this myth, it’s actually pretty prevalent online. In 2017, the website Medical News Today published an article about yeast infection remedies which included this very garlic method as well as other topical remedies using yogurt, tea tree oil, coconut oil and oil of oregano on the infected area. DON’T DO THAT.

Thankfully, we’ve also been debunking this for a while. Last year, Self asked a doctor if any at-home remedies are okay and the answer was no. They even specifically mentioned the garlic myth. Mayo Clinic explicitly states under its “Alternative Medicine” section for yeast infections, “No alternative medicine therapies have been proved to treat vaginal yeast infections… Talk to your doctor about what alternative treatments for vaginal yeast infection may be safe for you.”

This problem of misinformation surrounding yeast infections hints at a much larger and harder to combat issue—the general lack of information and research into women’s health. Historically, medical science has focused on the male body with the female body either presumed to be similar enough for the same principles to apply or just not important enough to warrant its own research. It’s a blind-spot that still prevails in science today—Amy Schumer even mentioned it in a recent Instagram post about her pregnancy and hyperemesis gravidarum.

In conclusion: women’s health research is woefully underfunded (though it’s much better than it was in the past) but one thing we DO know is that garlic should not be used as a treatment for yeast infections. Thank you.