In a bizarre incident that appears to show the importance of making correct birth control information available to young people, a 22-year-old woman in Colombia said she used a potato as contraceptive device, because her mother advised her to.
When she later visited doctors after complaining of abdominal pains, what they found proved exactly how misguided that maternal advice had been.
“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 told a Colombian news site.”
Fair enough. But after she left the potato in place for a couple of weeks, she started getting crippling pains in her lower abdomen. So she naturally went to have the issue checked out. She went to a hospital where nurse Carolina Rojas examined her.
“But it didn’t take long for Rojas to diagnose the problem. Because when she asked the patient to disrobe for the examination, she saw roots growing out of the woman’s vagina.”
Rojas at first thought that someone was playing a prank on her — but the case was 100 percent real, and actually, not too surprising given that the woman and her mother were so poorly informed about contraception that they believed a potato inserted into her vagina was an appropriate method of birth control.
In fact, the potato was only doing what potatoes do. It had started to germinate, sprouting roots that extended into the woman’s vaginal wall.
Fortunately, doctors were able to remove both the errant potato and its roots from inside the woman — who understandably declined to be publicly named — without surgery. The woman is reported to be doing just fine, having suffered no permanent damage to her reproductive system.
In the Colombian media, Rojas blamed the woman’s mother for dispensing some of the worst birds-and-bees advice that she’d ever heard. But the problem is not confined to just one misguided mom.
According to the Colombia Reports news site, while the country attempted to institute mandatory sex education nationwide about 20 years ago, parents across Colombia freaked out, protesting that the sex ed classes would somehow make their children gay.
Colombian society, as is still the case in large segments of U.S. society, still holds a strong taboo against parents discussing sex with their kids, according to Maria Eugenia Rosselli, a sociologist with the country’s education ministry.
In the United States, where reports of potato birth control have yet to emerge, teen pregnancy rates have dropped sharply in recent years, hitting all-time lows thanks mainly, experts say, to widely available sex education and contraception.