Women might be getting some misleading health advice from YouTube videos.
YouTube has pages of "Vagina Hacks" videos, which provide do-it-yourself health cures for health issues ranging from odors to yeast infections. Some of these videos even claim that these tips could "save your life."
And while some of the advice might be good — such as changing your underwear after you workout — some of this advice, such as dipping your tampon in yogurt to reduce odors is not recommended by doctors.
"In this day and age so many people look for advice of all types on line, whether it’s medical advice or other types of 'how to' or DIY projects, in the medical world I would hate to see someone missing a serious issue, like an infection or problem because they read something on or saw something on YouTube that they thought might be helpful."
Dos and don'ts for odors, or yeast infections.
Many videos suggest using masking sprays as part of your daily routine to get ride of vagina odor. However, according to Dweck, "a foul odor or something bad enough to require a masking spray may actually signify a problem that needs to be checked out."
Some of these videos even recommend inserting cloves of garlic into the vagina to cure yeast infections.
Dr. Laura Streicher, Associate Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University medical school told ATTN: that many people think that the bacteria (lactobacilli) in yogurt is good for your vagina, because lactobacilli is also found in your vagina. However the strain of lactobacilli found in yogurt is not the same strain found in your body.
"It is a complete waste of time," she said. "If you have something else going on it's going to delay the proper treatment."
In fact, according to Streicher, many women who think that they have yeast infections, actually don't.
"Bacterial vaginosis is far more common than yeast, and it's confusing, because when women have irritation, a little odor, or something doesn't feel right, the first thing they think 'yeast' because that's what their familiar with." She said. "Every study has show that for every women who has a yeast infection and treats it, someone else who treats it doesn't have a yeast infection."
Streicher further emphasized that she "never" recommends putting food up your vagina.
"If you are unsure about what's going on and you're itchy, again, you should go to your gynocologist." Dweck said. "[Doctors] don't recommend putting food substances in your vagina because they can be difficult to retrieve and can lead to infections."
Another hack encourages girls who are having issues inserting a tampon to use saliva as a lubricant. Again, this is not recommended by a doctor.
"The mouth has a lot of bacteria," Dweck said, "I would sooner say put some water or lubricant on the opening of the vagina to make that process easier." Dweck also added that if it is difficult to insert a tampon this could be a sign of an anatomical problem that should be checked out by a doctor.
Dweck told ATTN: that vagina steaming, which was endorsed by Gwyneth Paltrow, is especially troubling. The process, which involves blowing herb-infused steam into the vagina can lead to burns and allergic reactions.
According to Dweck, the mucosa — or skin of the vagina — is more sensitive that the skin on the outside of your body, so some people might react differently to herbs or products. "Everyone is different" Dweck said, "some women can use any product, some are more sensitive."
Overall, Dweck says most of this comes down to common sense "if you have real concerns, or if a problem persists, you should see a doctor," she said.