A Recounting of the Morning I Spent Digging Garlic Out of My Vagina

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My vagina and I get along most of the time. We know our routines, the things each of us like (orgasms and panty-free nights) and the things we don’t (periods and hard fingering meant to be pleasure inducing) but occasionally one of us fails each other. Like this morning, when I spent the better part of three hours trying to get a garlic clove out of the most sacred of my holes.

Why the garlic clove in sacred hole in the first place? Recently returned from a beach vacation — where I had spent the majority of my time in a bikini, frolicking between the Indian Ocean and the swimming pool at my Airbnb — I had developed the beginnings of a yeast infection (reminder: don’t hang out in wet or otherwise barely breathable material for six straight days. Your vagina needs to breathe!). Now, as a freelance writer, leaving my house on a day when I don’t have meetings or social engagements is one of those things that requires all the effort. Throw in a severe bout of vacation hangover, and that 10-minute walk to the nearest pharmacy to get a quick prescription might as well have been an obstacle course.

Then a light bulb came on. “Remember that time you were 24 and too broke to afford paying for an OTC prescription for your yeast infection?” A quick google search confirmed what I vaguely remembered: garlic is the perfect home remedy for a yeast infection (it kills yeast and something about bakers knowing when to add garlic to garlic bread).

Patting myself on the back for finding a safe, all-natural home remedy, I sauntered into my pantry to find all the garlic a girl could need for a life time of yeast infections, plucked a single clove, peeled it carefully, sliced into it a few times to maximize the potency of the garlic and disappeared into my bathroom. Five minutes later, with the taste of garlic already infiltrating my mouth (there is a connection between the vagina and the mouth so that garlic flavor comes on pretty quickly), I sat down at my dining table to continue procrastinating working. Now, the internet advises that you use this ‘treatment’ at night, but with a very promising date in two days, time was of the essence!

So goes Garlic Clove One: Sit with it wrapped in gauze in vagina all day. Wonder if it will fall out as I walk or pee. Be reminded of how strong of a flavor garlic is every time I pee. Keep tasting garlic in mouth. Remind myself of my hot date, and that no one likes to taste garlic breath or garlic pussy (persevere!!). Obsessively check the internet again to make sure I’m not crazy.

Garlic Clove One proved easy to pry out of my most sacred of holes at the end of the day. A slight hooking of fingers around the gauze I had wrapped it in and voila! Now it was time for Garlic Clove Two, aka the Bedtime Clove. I had gotten brave over the course of the day, so I figured I’d go all out. I sliced Bedtime Clove into halves, skipped the gauze because I needed all that garlic in my vagina stat, rubbed it around the inside of my walls for extra measure and slid into bed with dreams of a yeast-free vagina by morning.

When you go to bed with garlic in your vagina, the very first thing you think about when you wake up is, “There’s garlic in my vagina. It needs to get out.” I disappeared into my bathroom and with my fingers easily located the first half of the garlic clove, plopping it into the toilet bowl. Then the other half. Hmmm… it should be… somewhere… oh shit… that’s really far back… fuck, I pushed it even farther… fuck, fuck, fuck, I can’t reach it. Shit, it’s definitely gone too far.

Now there’s a crucial step to this whole garlic in vagina business that I had skipped — that is, to tie or sew a thread or piece of dental floss onto the garlic clove before insertion for easy retrieval. Hindsight, you guys. Hindsight is everything. This is how the next three hours of my life proceeded:

  1. Don’t panic, don’t panic, don’t panic. It’ll come out the next time you pee.
  2. Peeing again. Fuccckkkkkkkkkk, I still can’t get it out. It’s all the way up there!
  3. Returning to the internet. Okay, so if I just poop, it will fall out.
  4. Drink three cups of coffee and furiously chew granola.
  5. Godammit, it’s still there. Developing tears in eyes as finger tips only succeed at pushing Bedtime Clove further up my cervix.
  6. Returning to the internet. Okay, masturbation and kegel exercises.
  7. Furiously masturbating and doing more kegels than in the last five years combined.
  8. I can’t get ahold of it. Oh God, I might actually have to go to a Kenyan doctor and explain how I got garlic stuck up my vagina.
  9. How much is an ER visit in Nairobi? I should seriously buy health insurance. Why do I still not have health insurance? You are an adult, Kari, adults have health insurance!
  10. Returns to internet. Marvels at just how many forums there are for garlic stuck in vaginas.
  11. Internet says “be calm.” How can I be calm WHEN THERE IS HALF A GARLIC CLOVE STUCK IN MY VAGINA?
  12. Try squatting for better reach. I swear this garlic clove just wants to live in my vagina. I am never having sex again, I’m pretty sure. I should just cancel my date.
  13. I swear I am not sticking a spoon up my vagina. I guess this is why people date, so you can ask your partner to help you find the garlic in your vagina. That sounds like a dirty game; hey, I still have humor!
  14. I’m gonna have to throw that spoon away. Most definitely.
  15. This is too stressful. I’m gonna take a nap, and the internet says I should only worry after 48 hours.
  16. Wake up one hour later with the determination to be calm, reach into vagina and slowly… but surely… pulls out remaining Bedtime Clove.
  17. Immediately start writing this article.

Brave comrades, let this serve as a lesson to anyone considering garlic as a remedy to yeast infections: wind that clove up with some dental floss so, so tight before you stick it up your vagina. Did the garlic work? I don’t know, and I probably won’t know for another day, but right now all I have is a bruised vagina from all that prodding and the desire to go back to yesterday morning and take that 10-minute walk to the pharmacy instead. As far as science goes, they’re skeptics, but there are women, doulas and midwifes across the internet who swear by garlic as a cure for yeast infections. And 24-year-old me who still remembers Three Nights of Garlic.


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Kari is a creative writer born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya who spent her formative years in Minnesota—where she often dreamed of warmer weather. She is an avid traveler, perpetual list-maker and sometimes performer. Her words have appeared all over the internet, on the radio and on stage. For more, check out her website, The Warm Fruit, or follow her on Twitter.

Kari has written 9 articles for us.

67 Comments

    • Yes! While I definitely don’t want to put a clove of garlic in my vagina, I also kind of desperately want to in order to see if it’s actually true.

      But then if it is true that’s seriously cool and I’d want to tell everyone I’ve ever met, which of course would mean telling people I put a clove of garlic in my vagina to see if I could taste it.

      I should probably log off Autostraddle for a while and forget all about this article, for my own good.

  1. I have tried this! I found the gauze like… putting barbed wire into my already angry vag! And the garlic odor lingered for days…. Sometimes when I eat something super garlicky I’ll smell it in my crotch and have a flashback to yeast infection garlic treatment. I can’t remember if it worked. I probably ended up getting some Monistat. My yeast infections are a force to be reckoned with (when I actually get one.)

    Also, while we’re talking about yeast infections, and just for hilarity,…. my last yi was from an antibiotic and it…. started in my asshole. WTF!? By the time it showed up in my vag I was way beyond the realm of the Diflucan. One of the worst I’ve had. It was like pooping hot wires for days.

  2. My takeaways:

    The human body is marvelous and amazing

    Don’t stick garlic up my vagina

    Do buy traveler’s medical insurance before I go to Nairobi next month (because I don’t know how much a visit to the ER in Nairobi costs either)

    My vagina itches (please let it be sympathetic itching and not the beginning of an infection)

    Art heals!

    I love that you started writing this as soon as your ordeal ended. Reading it brought joy to my Monday morning.

    • Can’t wait for you to come visit us in Nairobi! If it’s any reassurance medical care in Kenya is definitely much cheaper than in the U.S. (ignoring the fact that doctors have been on a nationwide strike for 2 months now 🙁 )

      Thanks for reading!

    • Fun fact: US Helath Insurance Plans have to cover emergencies when you’re traveling abroad.

      You can look on your Summary of Benefits and Coverages (SBC) for more info.

  3. This was deeply appreciated. I’m not saying that I personally have ever been in a similar situation, but *ahem* all those internet forums exist for a reason.

    Unfortunately, my experience is that while garlic works well for mild yeast infections that you catch early, even very slight abrasions in your vagina make yeast very, very happy. So if you spend a lot of time poking and prodding to get the damn clove out, the yeast usually has a field day and you need antibiotics to end the saga.

  4. I once did this for TWO WEEKS. (Put garlic in my vag). Gf was not a fan and was like “ffs can I get you a prescription to whatever” and I was like NO NO WAY.

    I smelled like garlic from the waist down and referred to my cooch as the Olive Garden, and told everyone I wouldn’t be taking reservations until after the 10th.

    I never lost any garlic cloves, but uhhhhhh it’s a short trip, so that may be the difference.

    • +1 for boric acid; it’s a life-changer. I got some for my medicine cabinet to stock up before I had an infection, & practically looked forward to it. I ordered a 1 lb bag of powder online (much more economical than pre-filled capsules//it’s enough for a lifetime//there’s surplus so that I can offer it up to any & all vagina-havers during social situations in order to force casual party conversation to vagina-maintenence). It’s now a staple of my first-aid kit for backpacking/bike touring.

      I’ll let someone else do the lord’s work of linking to ample articles urging folks “no wait a minute, please don’t stick garlic in there,” & it’s the ultimate fuck-you to $20 one-time drugstore treatments. Boric acid works so well I want to scream it from the rooftops

      • yup i often make boric acid capsules for my friends/partners because i am like YOU MUST TRY THIS I PROMISE IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. and it does! plus even if you’re not 100% sure you’re having one or about to have one, it’s not a huge smelly mess the next day, so you can use it preventively without suffering

    • I had Boric acid capsules prescribed when I was having constant recurring (mild but observable and really, really annoying) bacterial infections, which alternated with yeast infections. This was an emotional life saver – I was absolutely miserable. They kept treating me with harsh antibiotics for the VB, which then brought on yeast infections, and then DIDN’T PREVENT RECURRENT BACTERIAL INFECTIONS, and I read a bunch of research which all pretty much said “you’re out of luck! THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN REALLY DO ABOUT VB!” (and was also super sex negative, ew).

      And then an amazing NP told me that was a lie and that boric acid would fix things and IT DID. There’s like one local pharmacist who makes the capsules here (Boston area) – they’re not typically covered by insurance but they’re also like $12 for a 30 day supply. I wasn’t a super huge fan of sleeping with paper towels down my pjs because watery discharge, but on the other hand, I’ve now been nearly a year without infections, and oh gosh it is such a relief.

    • YES YES I’m here to join the boric acid praise choir. I swung back and forth from YI to BV to cytolitic vaginosis for years, trying to find the right balance of treatments that would stop one microbe and not encourage another, until I finally discovered boric acid that just KILLS ALL THE THINGS.

  5. Firstly – sorry about your experience and I’m glad you managed to eventually retrieve said garlic!!

    Secondly – I cannot thank you enough for sharing this experience with us because it sure brightened a few minutes of my day, especially since my internal dialogue would have been exaaaaactly the same!!

  6. As the current possessor of my 16th or so (?!!!?! Alsjfjalfns) yeast infection in the past three years, I am sad to say that garlic hates me and has never worked but that the universe loves me, for it has brought this piece into my life. Kari, you are delightful – never change.

  7. I do this every time I have an inkling of a yeast infection! But, I’ve never gotten it stuck. Do I have a shallow vagina? Because it wasn’t *actually* in your cervix right? Like gynos have to use a tool to keep the cervix open in order to insert an IUD, which is much smaller than garlic. Right? I just know people who think their vaginas are never ending tunnels into the ether of their bodies but…they’re not.

  8. Thank you for sharing this story. I’ve been there with how do I explain this to doctor and my parents(cause leaving the house at 12am needs an explanation). Problem was solved sans a doctors visit; but I will never be attempting to use style of equipment again no matter how trans woman friendly the item is marked.

  9. Bless you for this gift of a story. Now add in heavy menstruation, an errant plastic semisphere, and the partner-with-spoon scenario alluded to in #13, and you will know why I will never, ever again be convinced to give the Diva cup another try.

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