Inserting foreign products for enhanced sexual pleasure, for vaginal tightening or to prevent pregnancy could land you in hospital. This was the message of caution from local doctors who warned women to desist from inserting foreign objects into their vaginas. They said this exacerbates the risk of developing infections and in the long run can cause cervical cancer.This week, reports of a bizarre new fad which sees women inserting soft drink bottle caps in their vaginas as a method of birth control, set tongues wagging on social media. According to Facebook posts, the bottle top caps cover the cervix in order to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. In the past, women have, according to reports, used a number of products, which include a range of medications and general personal hygiene products such as alum, dispirin, Colgate toothpaste, snuff (crushed tobacco), Knorrox cubes and medicines like Staaldruppels (an oral treatment for iron deficiency anaemia and stopping bleeding). Some women believe that these products stimulate their sexual drive, while tightening their vaginas and making them more sexually desirable.General practitioner Sphesihle Ngobese warned that introducing foreign products to the vagina could cause infections.“The risks are very high. You could damage yourself or develop an infection in the process,” Ngobese warned.He said products like alum generate acidity that interrupts the normal pH value of the vagina. “These products cause irritation, which can lead to bruises, trauma and lacerations.” He urged women to stop inserting bottle caps as it could result to infertility.“Although many women are using this as a form of birth control it doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections. “There are safer and free methods of birth control easily available to the general public,”he added.A woman who spoke to Weekend Witness on condition of anonymity, said she had read about mixing Stoney ginger beer and milk in an all-women’s group on Facebook.“There are many concoctions for enhanced sexual pleasure circulating on Facebook. I have only tried the Stoney and milk mixture and it did not stimulate me. I’m sceptical about inserting anything in there.”She added that while some of these products worked for other women it was not always guaranteed.Another woman (23) said she had tried snuff.“There’s a belief that snuff is useful when one has been cheating, so that the real partner does not feel you have been cheating,” she said.Another city doctor cautioned against intravaginal insertion of products.“There are safer ways to enhance sex, women should refrain from putting just about anything in their vaginas. The vagina contains a delicate balance of good bacteria which are there to protect it. If women place foreign projects inside their vaginas they risk disturbing this balance.” The CANSA association said tobacco products like snuff also increase the risk of cancer.According to the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa (Caprisa), Professor Jo-Ann Passmore and Dr Heather Jaspan are investigating factors associated with vaginal insertion practices, specifically tobacco and alum in women at high risk for HIV infection.The study is being conducted in Vulindlela outside Pietermaritzburg.