There’s a lot of bad birth control advice out there in the wilds of the Internet. On YouTube, people might tell you that drinking garlic milk will prevent pregnancy. (Spoiler alert, it won’t actually do that.) In fact, garlic can actually make birth control pills less effective. The only way it might work is if it makes your breath so repulsive that nobody comes near enough to make pregnancy a risk.
But recently some viral advice has been even worse than merely ineffective, moving into the “actively dangerous” category. In a tweet that received thousands of likes and shares, one Twitter user posted some pretty alarming “natural birth control options”.
Though there were quite a few people trusting the tweet at face value, there was, fortunately, a healthy dose of skeptical people out there to point out that these “options” are ineffective and even dangerous.
And to just mock the tweet.
None of the ingredients listed have been clinically tested or proven by science to prevent pregnancy.
“There’s no science or medicine to it at all,” OB-GYN Nathaniel DeNicola told BuzzFeed News. “It’s hardly even worth diving into it because it’s so unsupported by science.”
However, the ineffectiveness of the advice is not the worst part of the tweet.
The tweet was eventually taken down after it was reported a number of times under the “encourages self-harm” category.
The reason behind this is the inclusion of pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium).
“Pennroyal promotes menstrual flow and helps initiate self-abortion,” the entry reads. “Often it is prescribed with other herbs to prevent pregnancy. Boil 8 ounces of distilled or spring water.”
The plant can cause – amongst other problems – serious kidney, liver, and nervous system damage as well as nausea, stomach pain, high blood pressure, lung failure, brain damage, and vomiting.
Especially concerning is that the post contains no measuring information, leaving the reader to take a wild guess at what boiling “8 ounces of distilled or spring water” could mean. The plant has been attributed to a number of deaths through the years, including one otherwise healthy 18-year-old who took 28 grams (1 ounce) of concentrated pennyroyal oil to try to induce an abortion, and a 23-year-old who died after swallowing a tablespoon of the plant to try to induce menstruation.
All in all, best to avoid contraception advice from an Internet chart that includes a known poison. If you want something that will work, maybe try condoms instead, or any of the other available and scientifically proven (and safe) birth control methods.