Just because it's on TikTok doesn't mean it's a good idea.
There is a lot of misinformation that goes viral on social media, especially when it comes to the pandemic. One of the latest suggestions to help prevent COVID-19 is to soak a tampon in a solution of ivermectin and water, and then insert the tampon into the vagina.
Let's set this one straight before we get into the details.
Do not put ivermectin in your vagina.
There are ongoing discussions around the use of ivermectin as a treatment or preventative for COVID-19. If you haven't heard of ivermectin, it is an antiparasitic medication approved to treat infections caused by parasitic worms and head lice, and skin conditions like rosacea, in humans. In short, it's a dewormer.
But, let's get back to the topic. Here is why the experts say you should not soak a tampon in ivermectin and put it in your vagina.
Why are people making this suggestion on social media?
Sherry Ross, M.D., an OB-GYN, women's health expert, author of "she-ology" and co-founder of URJA Intimates skincare, was surprised to learn that people on social media were suggesting ivermectin to be vaginally inserted.
"Ivermectin is being investigated as a treatment for COVID-19. Myths and misinformation are the most common reason nonmedical influencers are falsely supporting this type of recommendation," said Ross.
"As much [as] social media networks are determined by your own biases, these 'news feeds' tend to merely amplify one's perspective and do nothing to inform further," explained Tyler Evans, M.D., M.S., MPH, an infectious disease expert, humanitarian and co-founder at Wellness Equity Alliance.
"It is a closed network of disinformation. The more unconventional the ideas, the more unorthodox the networks. The combination then seems to be picked up (on occasion) by more mainstream conventional news sources, which appears to provide affirmation of those very ideas," Evans continued.
What are the potential health risks of putting ivermectin in your vagina?
Evans warned soaking a tampon in ivermectin and inserting it into a highly sensitive area could introduce chemicals and lead to cell destruction and the disruption of healthy vaginal bacteria. Disrupting the vagina's natural flora could lead to new infection and the possible resistance to certain antimicrobials.
"To put it plainly," Ross added, "inserting a tampon full of ivermectin inside the vagina can cause irritation, inflammation and yeast or bacterial infections."
"It's important to remember that healthcare delivery is provided by a highly educated and trained workforce," Evans said. "The dissemination of disinformation by uninformed networks puts large communities at risk."
"Doctors advise against using ivermectin inside the vagina since it's not indicated nor meant to be used inside the vagina," Ross explained. "There are risks associated with using ivermectin inside the vagina since it's not been studied in this manner. Knowing this information makes the risks of using it inside the vagina significant and harmful."
Is inserting ivermectin directly into the vagina more or less risky than eating it?
"They are both risky in different ways," Evans stated.
"Oral ingestion could lead commonly to rash, swelling of the skin and lymph nodes, headache, disruption of blood count, and more seriously to liver and circulatory damage, as well as severe skin issues," Evans explained.
The FDA approves ivermectin tablets to treat people with two conditions caused by parasitic worms. Additionally, some topical ivermectin creams are approved to treat external parasites, such as head lice.
The FDA advises:
- Taking large doses of ivermectin is dangerous.
- If you are prescribed ivermectin by a doctor, you should fill the prescription through a legitimate pharmacy and take it exactly as prescribed.
Clearly, this particular piece of misinformation is dangerous and could lead to a very uncomfortable and painful vagina.
So, please, please do not put dewormer in your vagina.