Washington - It wasn't that long ago when Gwyneth Paltrow raved about the benefits of vaginal steaming, a non-scientifically proven process of sitting over a hot pot of water filled with herbs for up to 45 minutes to "cleanse your uterus" and "balance female hormone levels," as the actress had put it.
Most recently, Paltrow's lifestyle website Goop, which promoted vaginal steaming, is at it again with more advice for women: putting a jade egg – yes, a solid object about the size of a golf ball – in your vagina, and keeping it there all day or while you're sleeping.
For $66 (about R850) apiece, the jade eggs, once "the strictly guarded secret" of Chinese queens and concubines to please their emperors, would help boost your orgasm and "increase vaginal muscle tone, hormonal balance, and feminine energy in general," reads the beginning of an article titled Better Sex: Jade Eggs For Your Yoni.
But a California gynaecologist wasted no time letting Paltrow – and the rest of the world – know what she thinks of those jade eggs, which, according to the website, are already sold out.
Dr Jen Gunter, an OB/GYN for Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, called the idea "the biggest load of garbage" she's read on Goop since vaginal steaming and worse than saying wearing bras is linked to cancer.
Gunter first took issue with the article's introduction.
"Nothing says female empowerment more than the only reason to do this is for your man!" she wrote in a seething blog post addressed to Paltrow. "And then the claim that they can balance hormones, is quite simply, biologically impossible ... As for female energy? I'm a gynecologist and I don't know what that is!?"
Gunter also talked about the potential health risks.
Jade is porous, she said, so leaving the egg in one's vagina during sleep "could allow bacteria to get inside" and cause bacterial vaginosis or even Toxic Shock Syndrome, a life-threatening complication caused by bacterial infections.
"This is not good, in case you are wondering," Gunter wrote.
Walking around with it inside is another bad idea, she said.
"I would like to point out that your pelvic floor muscles are not meant to contract continuously," Gunter wrote. "In fact, it is quite difficult to isolate your pelvic floor while walking so many women could actually clench other muscles to keep the egg inside."
Goop has not responded to a request for comment from The Washington Post.
The rest of the Goop article is a question-and-answer write-up with Shiva Rose, an actress and beauty guru who said she's been using jade eggs for years. Rose said using jade eggs enhances not only your libido, but also your physical appearance.
"And, this is weird one, but I sometimes feel people are more attracted to you when you're carrying a jade egg," she said. "My 20-year-old daughter was joking about it one day, we were walking down the street and she was like, 'Mom, are you wearing a jade egg?'"
The eggs also create kidney strength, Rose claimed. And jade, as a gem, is a "powerful" material that "takes away negativity and cleanses."
At the end of the article is a disclaimer saying the views of the author "do not necessarily represent the views of Goop, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners."
"The article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice," the disclaimer states.
Gunter's blog post, written on Tuesday, has been viewed about 600 000 times, she wrote in another post.
Another doctor has debunked claims about what jade eggs can supposedly do.
"There are no studies or evidence to show that jade eggs help with orgasms, vaginal muscle tone or hormonal balance," Dr. Leena Nathan, an assistant clinic professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UCLA Health, told Fox News. "Jade does not result in hormonal changes even when inserted in the vagina."
Paltrow, a cookbook author who's been described as a lifestyle guru, launched Goop in the fall of 2008 out of her kitchen as a weekly newsletter. It has since evolved into a lifestyle website offering style tips, recipes and its own line of organic skin-care products. Paltrow also uses the website to give suggestions to readers about where to shop and eat.
Goop has promoted other eye-rolling ideas, like a $15 000 gold dildo and some sex dust to add to your smoothie.
Aside from vaginal steaming, another phrase, conscious uncoupling, was largely unknown to many until Paltrow used it. In 2014, she and Chris Martin announced their divorce through a post on Goop titled "Conscious Uncoupling," which in the simplest term, means divorce without the nastiness.
In 2015, the multimillionaire mom made unflattering headlines when she accepted a challenge to live on a food stamp budget – and failed after only four days.