Using contraceptive pills and condoms are among the most effective and widely used methods of preventing pregnancy among couples, but a woman from Honda, Colombia, adopted a rather bizarre means of contraception. She inserted a potato inside her private parts to avoid getting pregnant.
The 22-year-old woman was hospitalized because of severe lower abdominal pain this week and it turned out that the cause was her potato contraceptive. Carolina Rojas, the nurse who examined the woman, initially thought that it was some sort of a joke when she saw roots emerging from the woman's vagina, but the patient said that she had indeed inserted the potato inside her to prevent pregnancy.
The woman's mother is apparently to blame for giving the advice to her naive young daughter.
"My mom told me that if I didn't want to get pregnant, I should put a potato up there, and I believed her," the woman said.
About two weeks after inserting the potato, the woman started to experience intense pain in her lower abdomen because the starchy tuber had germinated and was growing roots inside her private parts.
Although plants do not normally grow inside the human body, the potato grew inside the patient's vagina likely because potatoes are tubers that thrive in the dark. The plant, in fact, typically grows under the soil where it is dark.
Fortunately, the patient did not have to go through expensive and life-threatening surgery to remove the plant. Doctors said that they expect no lasting effects on the woman's body.
The woman's ignorance about contraception highlights the lack of sex education in Colombia. Studies conducted by the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare reveal that many young people in the South American country lack awareness about contraception, and young women are pressured to engage in unsafe sex, which increases the risks for unwanted teenage pregnancy.
Although sexual education became required in Colombia in the 1990s, some parents did not approve of the content of the lessons and protested against them.
Nonconventional means of preventing pregnancy do not just exist in countries such as Colombia. People in developed countries also adopt unusual forms of contraception. A survey conducted by Bayer Healthcare involving 1,500 women in Britain who were between 25 and 34 years old revealed that some people use sandwich bags, cling film and latex gloves as contraceptive tools in place of condoms.