An OBGYN has had to come out on Twitter to tell women not to put garlic in their vaginas. So we asked an expert: what other old wives tales are harmful to women’s health?
Above video: Endometriosis and how it effects women's health.
A US gynaecologist has gone viral online after debunking the myth that a clove of raw garlic, vaginally inserted, can cure a yeast infection.
The responses to Dr Gunter’s Twitter thread range from the grateful;
To the bizarre;
To the very concerning;
The internet is rife with advice for natural remedies that people swear cure everything.
With so much misinformation out there about women’s health we’ve gone to an expert to clear some things up.
Myths & Misconceptions
Helena Teede is a Professor of Women’s Health at Monash University.
She’s heard a multitude of old wives tales that concern women’s health. From the very easily debunked (“No, fennel does not cure menstrual cramps,” she assured The Feed) to the downright dangerous.
“Pregnant women do not need to eat for two, this is causing a really big problem,” Teede said.
The old story of 'I’m pregnant so I need to eat twice as much' is actually contributing to the fact that over half of pregnancies see women gain an unhealthy amount of weight.
This misconception coupled with the old insistence that pregnant women need to be constantly resting are causing headaches in delivery rooms.
“Women become very sedentary and then they’re not fit enough for labour. They’re not fit enough to have a baby. Actually, we should be quite active in pregnancy,” Teede explained.
Teede debunked a few other tales she’s come across:
Natural remedies help, but education is key
However, there are some natural remedies that can help some ailments.
There is some truth in cranberry juice and UTIs.
“But even then, it’s not so much the cranberry juice as much as it is changing the acidity of your urine. So it’s not going to cure it but products that change the acidity of urine can help a UTI.”
Natural yoghurt, another common internet cure for a yeast infection, also holds some truth.
“The natural probiotics in yoghurt can change the natural flora in the vagina which can have some benefits,” Teede said.
One of the biggest concerns for Teede is that women don’t know what ‘healthy’ looks like.
“Women need to be aware of what’s normal and when they need to get help,”
It’s normal to have irregular periods when you first start out but if your cycles are not coming on a regular basis after two or three years then you need to see a doctor.
“It’s normal to have a little discomfort on your period but if you are getting pain that requires more attention than a Panadol and a hot water bottle that's not normal and you need to get that checked out.”
Teede concludes that the most effective way to avoid having a mishap with a garlic clove is for women to make a plan for their sexual and reproductive health.
“We all plan for retirement but we don’t plan to be healthy. Understanding normal and planning across your reproductive life is the best thing women can do.”