Did you know that just as you steam your face to give it a cleanse, you can do the same to your vagina too? Yes, you read that right. This interesting method of cleaning is called vaginal steaming.
While this is an age-old remedy that cleanses the vagina, regulates your menstrual cycle and eases bloating and cramps, it only became a fad when Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow raved about it.
“You sit on what is essentially a mini-throne, and a combination of infrared and mugwort steam cleanses your uterus, et al. It is an energetic release – not just a steam douche – that balances female hormone levels,” she shared on her lifestyle website Goop.
But other than cleaning, does it have any other advantages? More importantly, is it safe for your sexual health? Well, keep reading to find out.
What is vaginal steaming?
Vaginal steaming is a method where you direct herb-infused steam into your vagina. If you are willing to shell out some hefty bucks, you can get this done at a spa. But some experts believe that vaginal steaming is not really necessary.
Dr Anna McNulty, director of Sydney Sexual Health, told The Sydney Morning Herald that it’s best to do nothing to your lady-parts. “Your vagina is very good at keeping itself healthy. Just leave it alone,” she said.
“It’s quite a delicate balance of bacteria. Any intervention – like the trend of douching – can wash away the normal bacteria that keeps your vagina healthy,” Dr McNulty added.
But if you are still keen to do this, you may try it at home.
What herbs are used in vaginal steaming?
You can use lavender, rosemary, chamomile, yarrow, dandelion root, calendula, oregano, jasmine, peppermint, thyme, sage as rose to prepare your own concoction. | Image courtesy: YouTube screengrab
In fact, the process isn’t difficult. All you need to do is squat over a container filled with herb-infused steam. As for the herbs, Paltrow suggests that for a mugwort vaginal steaming, spas usually use these following herbs:
The herbs listed above do have their individual benefits. For instance, according to Chinese medicine, burnt mugwort is used over problematic areas of the body. This alternative therapy process is called moxibustion, and mugwort is believed to treat reproductive problems. Therefore, it is often used in vaginal steaming. Similarly, all the other herbs listed above also have their own special properties.
But you do not have to stick to only these. Dr Rosita Arvigo, a naprapathic physician and herbalist, suggests that you can also use lavender, rosemary, chamomile, yarrow, dandelion root, calendula, oregano, jasmine, peppermint, thyme, sage as rose to prepare your own concoction.
How can you steam your vagina?
As seen here, you can place the basin or the container over the toilet and sit on it.| Image courtesy: YouTube screengrab
Once you have all these herbs in place, the preparation of the steam and the process itself is quite simple. Here’s how you do it, according to these practitioners of the process.
- Take some hot water in a container or a basin and add one cup of the herbs.
- Let the herbs steep in the water for a minute or two.
- Without any clothes on from the waist below, stand or squat directly over the container or the basin. Likewise, you can place the basin or the container over the toilet and sit on it.
- Place a towel over your legs (just as you do when you steam your face). This prevents the steam from escaping.
- An average session for vaginal steaming could last anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes.
As Paltrow mentioned, vaginal steaming can cleanse the vagina and even balance out hormones. But the process has a few more benefits.
What are the benefits of vaginal steaming?
Apart from cleaning your vagina and helping ease cramps and bloating, Dr Arvigo lists the following benefits of vaginal steaming. She says historically, here’s how this process helps.
- Reduces bloating and discomfort due to menstrual cycles
- Decreases menstrual flow and reduces dark purple or brown blood that you may notice at the onset or end of your cycle
- Regulates irregular menstrual cycles
- Increases fertility, especially if you combine it with a Mayan (abdominal) massage
- Helps in speedy healing of the vagina after natural birth
- Treats uterine fibroids, prolapse and ovarian cysts
- Heals hemorrhoids
- Treats chronic vaginal/yeast infections
- Maintain healthy odour in the vagina
- Removes any hormone imbalances
- Takes care of digestive issues
- Eases pain in the body
Although vaginal steaming (also called yoni steaming) is popular in Asia and parts of Africa and Central America, experts have reservations about the process. That’s because there is no scientific evidence to prove that it cures all the aforementioned ailments.
For instance, Dr Manny Alvarez, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, says, “The illusion that any hot air infused with some herbal spice would penetrate the vaginal barriers of your body and improve fertility, regulate hormones does not hold any water with me.”
“Vaginal irritation is a reality. If there is a precancerous condition in the vaginal area, vaginal steaming could exacerbate a potential deadly condition,” he added pointing to the safety concerns of vaginal steaming.
How safe is vaginal steaming?
Since there is no scientific proof that suggests you need vaginal steaming, the decision to try it can be purely based on curiosity. The only thing you need to remember is that your vagina has very delicate skin. So unless you are consulting an alternative therapist for a reproductive procedure, it’s best to let your vagina be. Try this only if you just want to clean your vagina and experience how it feels.
And as with any natural remedy, make sure you are careful about the heat. If you have wounds in your vaginal area, stay away from this process because it can further irritate that area. Also, vaginal steaming can alter the balance between good and bad bacteria that naturally keeps your lady parts healthy.
So if you are curious, consult with a doctor to better understand how this process will impact you.
For now, take a look at the video to see how to steam your vagina at home.
Sources: Healthline, The Sydney Morning Herald, Harvard Health Publishing, Fox News
ALSO READ: 7 vagina facts you didn’t know but should
(Feature image courtesy: YouTube)