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If you’re pregnant, you’re probably very aware that your vagina is about to go through a lot very soon.

That’s why some people become interested in natural remedies and detoxes, like yoni pearls, to help prepare or cleanse their vagina before delivery. But are yoni pearls safe? And can they cause miscarriages?

We’ll give you the bottom line first: There are no documented cases of yoni pearls causing miscarriage, but it’s possible due to the risks associated with using them.

We’re here to answer all your questions.

Yoni pearls, also sometimes called vagina detox pearls, are small, cloth-covered balls full of herbs, such as:

These cloth pearls are inserted into your vagina for 24 to 48 hours using a plastic applicator.

The pearls are marketed as a natural, holistic ways to cleanse or detox your vagina or uterus of “toxins,” negative emotions, past sexual partners, and hormonal imbalances.

They’re also said to help with heavy periods, endometriosis, yeast infections, and bacterial vaginosis.

The internet is full of testimonials from people who claim they do, but there’s no evidence to suggest that any of this is true.

“The vagina is a self-cleaning organ, and as such does not require a ‘detox,’” says Dr. Kecia Gaither, an OB-GYN and specialist in maternal fetal medicine, and director of perineal services at NYC Health and Hospitals/Lincoln.

It’s completely normal to have a slight odor or vaginal discharge whether you’re pregnant or not — and you shouldn’t be trying to cleanse your vagina of either.

“Normal vaginal discharge basically consists of water and vaginal cells,” Gaither explains. “Depending on what time course of the menstrual cycle, the color may vary from clear, to white, to off-white, [and] the consistency of the secretions [can vary] from thin and watery to elastic and stringy to thick and gooey.”

All of these colors and consistencies are normal.

Your vagina also goes through a lot of changes when you’re pregnant: The pH changes (so you smell and taste different), and you might experience more vaginal discharge than you usually do.

Whether or not you’re pregnant, when you try to “detox” or “cleanse” your vagina with yoni pearls (or any other remedy, like douches, steaming, or jade eggs), you can kill the natural bacteria inside your vagina that protects it from infections and balances the pH.

That’s why, if you’re concerned about your vaginal discharge or odor, it’s best you talk to your OB. They can tell you if you actually have a problem and suggest a treatment that will actually work.

There are no documented cases of yoni pearls directly causing a miscarriage. However, that doesn’t mean they’re safe to use when you’re pregnant — or to use generally.

Yoni pearls haven’t been widely studied, but research from 2002 noted that douching — which is also done to clean the vagina using water and liquids— can cause pregnancy problems, including miscarriage and early childbirth.

Certain herbs can also cause miscarriage.

In fact, it’s generally recommended that you avoid any scented products when you’re pregnant, including scented pads, tampons, or personal care products.

Yoni pearls aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration and aren’t considered safe by doctors for a number of reasons.

That’s why, in 2019, the government agency Health Canada banned the sale of yoni pearls, calling them harmful and “very predatory” because they make misleading, false, and deceptive claims.

There is also a Florida class action suit against one major company that makes yoni pearls because they contain “at least one ingredient that has been recognized as toxic.”

This toxic ingredient is borneolum syntheticum, a synthetic version of borneol. According to CBC/Radio Canada, Health Canada says there’s been at least one report of someone having a serious adverse reaction to it.

Yoni pearls can also increase your chances of developing an infection.

“Yoni pearls are foreign objects,” explains Gaither. “The mesh is an irritant, which can scratch the vagina,” which in turn, can cause injury or chronic irritation.

In addition, she says, yoni pearls “can serve as an industrial for bacterial growth, and can increase the risk of infection.”

This is because yoni pearls kill “good” bacteria, like Lactobacillus acidophilus, a bacteria that produces lactic acid in the vagina to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

When you’re pregnant, your vagina is already more vulnerable to infections, such as yeast infections, thanks to increased estrogen levels and changes in your vagina’s pH levels.

In addition, studies do suggest that some common vaginal infections, such as bacterial vaginosis, can increase your risk of miscarriage in the first and second trimester.

And to “detox,” yoni pearl instructions dictate that they should be left inside the vagina a long time (24 to 48 hours). This is dangerous and can severely increase your risk of dangerous infection.

Tampons, for comparison, aren’t supposed to be worn for more than 8 hours because they can lead to toxic shock syndrome, a serious bacterial infection that can be life threatening if left untreated. Yoni pearls are left in even longer, putting you at even greater risk of this dangerous infection.

Yoni pearls can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can do a lot of damage to your reproductive system, leading to ectopic pregnancy, long-term pain, and infertility.

It’s difficult to say for certain, but you should know that most miscarriages occur because of things outside your control.

In other words, miscarriages are generally not the result of something you did or didn’t do. So try not to blame yourself if you have one.

“Most miscarriages are caused by a genetic issue,” says Gaither, such as a chromosomal abnormality in the baby. In fact, estimates suggest that between 50 percent and 70 percent of spontaneous miscarriages occur for this reason, most within the first trimester.

That said, as noted above, infections can increase your chances of a miscarriage. But there are lots of other factors that can lead to miscarriage too, including:

  • malnutrition
  • tobacco, drug, or alcohol use
  • high caffeine intake
  • maternal age or weight
  • hormonal issues
  • thyroid disease
  • diabetes
  • cervical problems
  • uterus anatomy
  • high blood pressure
  • trauma
  • food poisoning
  • certain medications

Sometimes, the cause of a miscarriage just isn’t known.

If you’ve had a miscarriage, your doctor might be able to do a genetic analysis to see if there was a genetic anomaly. And if you’ve had multiple miscarriages, Gaither says that you should talk to your doctor to see if something else is going on.

A lot of yoni pearl users post graphic images of their “detox,” including photos of thick grey discharge that smells bad. But this can actually be a sign of an infection — not that the pearls worked.

Signs of infection to look for include:

  • vaginal itching
  • more vaginal discharge than usual
  • grey, white, or greenish-yellow discharge, especially if it’s frothy or cottage cheese-like
  • a strong odor, especially if it smells fishy
  • pain or burning during urination and intercourse
  • spotting or bleeding (this always warrants a call to your doctor or midwife during pregnancy)

If you experience any of these symptoms after using yoni pearls, contact your doctor for treatment.

In addition, be on the lookout for symptoms of toxic shock syndrome, including:

  • confusion
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • muscle aches
  • nausea
  • rash
  • seizures
  • vomiting
  • redness around your mouth, eyes, and throat

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of these.

Yoni pearls don’t detox, cleanse, or help medical conditions. In fact, they can cause infections, which can be dangerous to your health and the health of your pregnancy. While yoni pearls may not directly cause a miscarriage, these secondary infections could, at least in theory.

If you’re worried about vaginal odor or discharge, talk to your doctor before trying any at-home or “natural” remedies.