We’re not sure what it says about Gwyneth Paltrow, but whenever there’s a headline advising people to put assorted foods, beverages, or decorative accessories in their most personal orifices, we assume she’s behind it. And who could blame us: after advocating vaginal steaming, $135 coffee enema kits, and those now-infamous jade eggs, if she woke up tomorrow and Gooped something about reupholstering her own uterus, we’d be zero percent surprised.
But Paltrow has nothing to do with this one, and she’s not the reason why gynecologists are reminding The Entire Internet that flowering herbs don’t belong in anyone’s vagina.
Last week, Marie Claire UK ran an article that listed several things women could do to “kickstart” their periods, and one of them involved parsley. “Parsley can help to soften the cervix and level out hormonal imbalances that could be delaying your cycle,” the article said, and OK, fine, yes, parsley is known as an emmenagogue, which is an herb that can do that whole “kickstarting” thing. But instead of making chimichurri or buying a jar of pesto, the author suggested using “parsley vaginal inserts,” which are exactly what they sound like.
Several doctors quickly responded with a near-universal “NO, YOU SHOULD NOT DO THAT EVER,” and the piece was deleted. Dr. Sheila Newman, a New Jersey-based OB/GYN, told The Independent that Marie Claire’s article was “irresponsible,” due to the health risks of filling your personal areas with leafy garnishes.
“There are only a few things that should go in your vagina and vegetables generally aren’t one of them,” she said. “There are ways to manipulate your menstrual cycle and avoid having your period at certain times but they should be discussed with your gynecologist.” (And, as a general rule, the “how do I better regulate my menstrual cycle” conversation isn’t one you should be having in the produce department. We hope everyone knows that now.)
If you’ve just bought several bunches of parsley and would like a second opinion, Dr. Alyssa Dweck, a gynecologist and the author of The A to Z for Your V, also recommends against putting any kind of food in there. “There is risk of infection in doing so, because any substance can potentially alter the pH of the vagina, or might be contaminated in some way, and lead to an infection,” she told Broadly in November.
Dr. Dweck said that unwashed or improperly washed foods could cause urinary tract infections (UTIs), contact dermatitis, yeast infections, or bacterial vaginosis.
In a statement to The Independent, Marie Claire admitted that the article didn’t “reflect [its] standards,” which is why it was removed. “It was misguided, and we are sorry our usual care and stringency was not followed,” a spokesperson said.
If you are interested in “kickstarting” your period, maybe use that parsley in a nice frittata. You know, the kind you can eat WITH YOUR MOUTH ONLY, right before you call your doctor.