You’ve read our warnings about and jade eggs. Now there's a new addition to the list of things you shouldn’t put in your vagina: Wasp nests (yes, wasp nests) known as oak galls or oak apples. San Francisco-based ob-gyn Jennifer Gunter, MD, recently noticed this product for sale on Etsy, and wrote a blog post highlighting its risks, including burning and drying (ouch).
But first, what are oak galls, exactly? “They are balls of bark and wasp excreta that once nurtured a wasp larva,” Dr. Gunter explains on her site, and they “grow when a gall wasp punctures an oak tree and deposits larva.” This irritates the tree and causes it to release tannic and gallic acids, which form the round oak galls.
Next question: Why would you want to put oak galls anywhere near your lady parts? In her post, Dr. Gunter included instructions from Etsy retailer Heritage Health Shop, where she first found oak galls for sale. The company said women use the natural remedy to improve their sex lives and tighten their vaginas. The suggested uses include applying a ground-up oak gall paste to an episiotomy cut (the surgical cut between the vagina and anus sometimes made during childbirth), and boiling the oak galls to create a feminine wash.
The retailer's page did warn that your vagina may sting after application of an oak gall paste, to which Dr. Gunter responded: “Here’s a pro-tip, if something burns when you apply it to the vagina it is generally bad for the vagina."
But stinging isn’t the only problem. This product acts as an astringent—meaning it will dry out your vagina (*cringes*). Not only does this make sex way less pleasant (hello, we want more lube, not less), but as Dr. Gunter explained in her post, it can also mess with your vagina's good bacteria, destroy the protective mucous layer, increase the risk of abrasions during sex, and heighten your risk of contracting HIV.
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In other words, this natural treatment could do some serious harm. Heritage Health Shop has since removed the product from its store. Health reached out to the company for comment but did not receive a response before time of publication.