Health officials have warned women not to insert tobacco in their vagina after the method was claimed to increase sex drive.
Doctors warned the practice has no effect on fertility and libido but can result in scarring and vaginal opening to close up.
In addition, it is also believed to increase the risk of cancer and stillbirth.
A popular practice in West Africa, ‘vaginal tobacco’ is said to increase sexual pleasure, shrink the genitals, and raise the chances of getting pregnant.
Gynecologist Dr. Abdoulaye Diop says the practice only gives women the feeling their genitals are shrinking as the chemicals cause vaginal muscles to retract.
“This feeling is transient and misleading, because the vaginal mucosa that is attacked will eventually develop changes that are the gateway to cancer,” he added.
Prof. Pascal Foumane also said: “These products often create ulcers which, by scarring, shrink the vagina, make it hard and can go so far as to close it completely.
“It can even make the normal flow of menstruation impossible.”
The vaginal tobacco is particularly common in Senegal, where the substance for ‘sending your man into seventh heaven’ or ‘increasing sexual pleasure tenfold’ is sold for 13p per sachet.
Made from the roots of a tree called tangora and dried tobacco leaves, the sale is so discreet that it is sold under code names.
Some women who have used the product say they felt burning sensations followed by vomiting, dizziness and fainting.
Neyba from Senegal said: “I told an aunt about my difficulty getting pregnant and she recommended this product. After using it I was able to have a child. Even the doctors were surprised.
“I feel heartache and unbearable pain every time I apply the product. But once the effect has passed, I feel really good.”
But a reproductive health coordinator, Gnima Ndiaye, said there are so many cases of women admitted to emergency rooms after fainting due to vaginal tobacco use. Most of the patients seek medical attention for inflammation of the vagina or cervix, and in some cases, recurrent sexually transmitted infections.
She also said that a 36-year-old woman had a stage three cervical cancer.
“The same year, I received a 25-year-old girl who had vaginal lesions and who bled on contact with the speculum [a medical tool used for vaginal examinations],” the health worker added.
“In both cases, they said they used tobacco.”
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