Doctors say a bizarre health trend where women insert a cucumber in their vagina in attempts to clean it could actually be dangerous.
The practice, called the "cucumber cleanse," involves peeling a cucumber and inserting it into the vagina. DISfunkshion magazine, a digital publication targeted at young women, says the process is meant to "naturally flush the vagina without upsetting its natural process."
"Cut a fresh cucumber down to a size that will fit, peel it and insert it in your vagina," the magazine suggests. "Twist in and out for about 20 minutes."
Other bloggers have said that the fruit will sanitize the genital area because of its high vitamin content, according to the Daily Mail. They also claim the practice will leave a pleasant odor and even reduce the chances of getting an sexually transmitted disease.
But doctors warn that inserting a cucumber into the vagina can increase the chances of infections like gonorrhea or HIV.
"This idea that some kind of vaginal cleansing is required, be it a peeled cucumber or the 'feminine washes' sold at drugstores, is misogyny dressed up as health care and I am having none of it," Canadian gynecologist Dr. Jen Gunter wrote on her blog.
The vagina naturally cleanses itself, and any attempts to clean it with other methods could disrupt its natural pH balance.
"Vaginas are not dirty. Study after study after study tells us that douches, cleanses, steams, vinegar, pH balancing products, aloe, colloidal silver, garlic or whatever else passing as the vaginal snake oil du jour at best do nothing but have real potential for harming good bacteria or disrupting the mucosal surface," Gunter continues.
"By damaging lactobacilli and the mucosa, attempts at vaginal cleaning increase a woman's risk of contracting gonorrhea or HIV if she is exposed."
She also adds that "paradoxically, it will also cause odor."
Cucumbers -- or any other type of fruit or vegetable -- could have fungi or bacteria on them or in them. Gunter writes that even cleaning the cucumber before using it won't help.
"Cucumbers seem prone to all kinds of nasty fungi and I just don't think anything capable of getting blossom end rot [a type of vegetable rot] should go in a vagina," she wrote.
"All in all, I'd say it's probably wise to not introduce an object with unknown plant microorganisms into your vagina."
Instead, Gunter says the best way to clean a vagina is to leave it alone. At most, use water and mild soap around the outside of the genitalia.
"A vagina takes care of itself," says Gunter. "Like a self-cleaning oven."