Doctors concerned about women’s health are criticizing women’s magazine Marie Claire for suggesting that women who want their periods to come early insert something into their vaginas that you normally find in the grocery’s produce section: parsley.
The article in Marie Claire, which has been deleted, instructed, “’While few of us would feature parsley as the main part of a dish, it turns out the herb is a mild emmenagogue and can help to kick-start your period, so you might want to look into some parsley recipes ASAP. Parsley can help to soften the cervix and level out hormonal imbalances that could be delaying your cycle, helping your period come faster. If you’re struggling to find a dish based on parsley, don’t panic – the most effective forms are said to be parsley tea and parsley vaginal inserts,” according to The Daily Mail.
In April 2015, Bustle wrote of various ways to induce an early period, and one of them was parsley: “As any herbalist will tell you, emmenagogues are a family of herbs that stimulate blood flow in the pelvis and uterus, and can sometimes make your period come sooner. To safely induce your period, you can try some mild emmenagogues like parsley, ginger, yarrow, rosemary and sage. The recommended dosage for these herbs is two to four cups a day, taken in tea form. Although these herbs are not toxic to adults, you still want to be wise about using them. Don’t go over the recommended dosage, and consult an herbalist before taking them.”
But inserting parsley directly into the vagina crossed the line for some doctors, apparently. The Independent spoke to Dr. Shazia Malik, who warned, “There is no evidence of any benefit to a woman of doing this, and clear risk of significant harm as deaths have been reported. I would urge women not to insert anything unless they have taken proper medical advice.”
Dr. Sheila Newman echoed to The Independent, “That is not something that is recommended by gynaecologists. There are only a few things that should go in your vagina and vegetables generally aren’t one of them … There are ways to manipulate your menstrual cycle and avoid having your period at certain times but they should be discussed with your gynaecologist.” She added that Marie Claire’s suggestion was “irresponsible.”
Karin O’Sullivan, clinical lead at FPA Charity, told Metro.co.uk, “It’s a bad idea to put herbs inside your vagina. Your vagina has a natural healthy balance which can be upset by the introduction of foreign objects. ‘When it comes to plants or food, hygiene can be an issue, with the introduction of new bacteria. ‘More importantly, whatever goes inside your vagina must be something that can be taken out intact. ‘Anything left behind in the vagina requires an immediate trip to A&E or a sexual health clinic to be removed. Otherwise this can cause infections and even lead to toxic shock syndrome, which can be deadly, so it’s unwise to insert parsley into your vagina as a means to induce your period.”
In August, a report stated that a 24-year-old mother-of-two in Argentina had died attempting to cause a miscarriage by using parsley.
Using parsley to induce abortions was discussed in a 2003 scientific paper, which warned, “The purpose of this report is to describe the herbal products used to induce abortions, and to enhance awareness and understanding of their toxic effects … The species most frequently involved were ruda (Ruta chalepensis/graveolens), cola de quirquincho (Lycopodium saururus), parsley (Petroselinum hortense), and an over-the-counter herbal product named Carachipita.”
There have been other novel suggestions for women; actress Gwyneth Paltrow touted women inserting jade eggs up their vaginas for various reasons, including strengthening the pelvic floor, but gynecologist Dr. Jen Gunter warned in January 2019 that such an action could induce bacterial vaginosis or deadly toxic shock syndrome.
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