Dr Miriam Stoppard: Self-treating a vaginal yeast infection with garlic is most unwise - Miriam Stoppard 1

Why would you risk putting a clove of garlic in your vagina ? Because some old wives’ tale says it overcomes yeast infection?

No it doesn’t, but even if it did, why would you even consider doing this ? Because some website says the active principle in garlic, allicin, has anti-fungal activity? Surely not.

How on earth could your vagina be the perfect place for a clove of garlic, especially as the veg may even be contaminated with dirt and bacteria? Included in those could be ­botulinum, a deadly bacterium, that would do very nicely in those warm parts, but could actually end up leaving you paralysed.

I have been saying for decades that the vagina is a self-cleansing organ and has no need for interventions in the form of “feminine products” to ensure its health. Nor veg.

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Dr Jen Gunter, a health columnist and author of a book called The Vagina Bible, has come out all guns blazing against the garlic lobby, saying “do not take medical advice from anyone recommending vaginal garlic for yeast or anything else”.

A real concern about the dubious practice is botulism, which is caused by a bacterium known as Clostridium botulinum. This bug is especially ­virulent because it can lie dormant then start multiplying under the right conditions – and when it does it produces a viciously poisonous toxin.

This serious illness results in hospital treatment as the toxins attack the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

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And the infection is fatal in five to 10% of cases, according to the NHS.

I know every woman thinks she’s an expert on her own vagina and believes she would know if she had thrush.

But self-diagnosis is dangerous and you may be tempted to treat a problem that isn’t there.

As a consequence of this garlic ­practice, the regular balance of the vagina would be destroyed and all manner of bacteria could gain a ­foothold. It’s always wise to seek an opinion from a health professional before self-treating.

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As Dr Gunter says: “50-70% of women who self-treat for vaginal yeast never actually had a yeast infection.”

Your vagina’s acid environment encourages its own bacteria to keep a healthy pH balance, and it creates naturally occurring antibiotics and a chemical that stops invading bacteria sticking to the vagina walls.

When you disturb this well-managed balance, by garlic or anything else, infection may follow.

Leave it alone!

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