Yes, vaginal yeast infections suck. But sticking garlic up there isn’t going to improve anything and could make things worse
In case you haven’t gotten the memo yet, don’t stick garlic cloves in your vagina, no matter what your essential oil-slinging, all-natural, organic-only friends might be telling you. Yes, there are tons of great, effective natural remedies in the world that have been backed by science, but garlic in your vajayjay is absolutely not one of them.
Thankfully, OBGYN, sexpert, and New York Times health columnist Dr. Jennifer Gunter is around to set the record straight, and keep our vaginas as hale and healthy as possible. She jumped on Twitter for a thread today to clear up a few things about the combination of garlic cloves and intimate areas.
Why you should not put garlic in your vagina.
Garlic contains allicin, in THE LAB it MAY have antifungal (i.e. anti yeast) properties. This is in a lab, not even in mice. Just a dish of cells. Your vagina is not a dish of cells. #vaginaisanogarliczone 1/8
— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) April 23, 2019
In other words: there’s just no science backing up that putting a garlic chunk in your vag is going to heal a yeast infection. There’s just a tiny bit of science saying that one component of garlic has anti-yeast properties in a petri dish.
Lots of vaginal garlic aficionados (I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO TWEET THAT IN 2019, BUT HERE WE ARE) recommend inserting a clove. This means they don't understand for allicin to be released the garlic has to be cut or crushed. Sigh. #vaginaisanogarliczone 2/8— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) April 23, 2019
And yep, if you just insert a clove without smooshing it, the allicin doesn’t go anywhere. It’s in the juices.
Garlic could have bacteria from the soil. Bacteria from the soil can be pathogenic -- bad for the body. That's why we clean wounds. If you actually happen to have an inflamed yeasty vagina that soil bacteria would be more likely to infect #vaginaisanogarliczone 3/8— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) April 23, 2019
And: garlic might be dirty. Probably because it’s a plant that grows in the ground? So, you might start off with a yeast infection and end up with an even worse infection when you put unclean foreign objects up there.
So for garlic to work you would have to crush it and stuff it up somehow. There is still the dirt thing. And the cut up garlic on raw tissues thing (OUCH). And the fishing of the garlic out by the gyno thing. #vaginaisanogarliczone 4/8— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) April 23, 2019
Even if you did crush it up, to release the allicin, you should know that 1) garlic juice burns like a motherf*cker, especially on sensitive areas of skin (that are already reeling from a yeast infection) and that 2) crushed up garlic is super hard to fish out of your private parts and it might land you at the gyno’s office in an embarrassing manner.
Garlic can cause biofilms on braces, so could garlic contribute to biofilms in the vagina? Biologically plausible. Biofilms are bad. You do not want them to form especially when you have yeast. Effect of garlic good bacteria also unknown #vaginaisanogarliczone 5/8— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) April 23, 2019
And garlic could throw off the delicate balance of your vag environment, which has already been thrown off by the yeast.
As 50-70% of women who self treat for vaginal yeast never actually had a yeast infection you can't say much, except half of them never had yeast to begin with so the irritation they had may have been a temporary thing and resolving wasn't garlic related #vaginaisanogarliczone 6/8— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) April 23, 2019
Why do people think it works? Well, many women are self-diagnosing their yeast infection, and just think that garlic is solving their problem.
And the placebo effect is strong. If you think vaginal garlic is going to make you feel better, you may very well feel better temporarily. #vaginaisanogarliczone 7/8— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) April 23, 2019
Also, they could just be feeling the delights of the placebo effect, and not the delights of a home remedy.
My advice, do not take medical advice from anyone recommending vaginal garlic for yeast or anything else. If you enjoyed this thread, you will like my book The Vagina Bible (August 27) #vaginaisanogarliczone https://t.co/G3azTcxTaI 8/8— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) April 23, 2019
Bottom line? Stick to over-the-counter remedies that are proven to work, or schedule a visit to your doctor. Also consider looking into Dr. Gunter’s upcoming publication, The Vagina Book, which looks super rad.
If you’re wondering, who in the world thought about putting garlic in vaginas? you should know that it’s a pretty common folk remedy that gets a fair amount of traction on the internet (not unlike the “vaccines are dangerous” rumors).
Why do people believe it? Probably because there is some evidence that one property of garlic is anti-yeast – and because many yeast infections are self-diagnosed or go away all on their own. Also because garlic topical creams are sometimes used to treat external fungal infections like athlete’s foot. But please be aware: they are approved for external (not in your box) uses only.
Why should we stop believing it? Because it isn’t proven to work, it can be painful, and it can lead to complications like infection.
We can’t stress it enough: if you doctor says not to do something, don’t. If science doesn’t back it up, don’t. Your vagina is a self-regulating balance of yeast and good bacteria and all sorts of things: only mess around up there with medications that are deemed safe by your doctor. Use that garlic to make some pasta sauce: everyone will be better for it.
And if you absolutely must harness the power of garlic and allicin, just eat some. It’s not dangerous like putting it in your vag is, and even if it doesn’t work (and there’s little evidence to suggest it): garlic is yummy, and there aren’t side effects unless you eat excess amounts (and don’t do that).