Sure, steam cleaning might be a great option for your dirty drapes and carpet -- but your vagina?! Yes, some beauty spas and self-proclaimed “vaginal steam facilitators” are selling “v-steaming” (a.k.a. “Yoni steaming”) to women all around the globe, claiming it can spark fertility, relieve menstrual pain, quell headaches, and provide other benefits.
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow has promoted the holistic practice on her lifestyle blog, Goop, while supermodel and social media maven Chrissy Teigen posted an Instagram picture of herself mid-steam.
But what are the experts saying about this age-old remedy? Other than offering a soothing warmth down under, does it work? Is vaginal steaming safe? Are there better alternatives for vaginal health?
You’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers! Read on to learn everything you need to know about vaginal steaming.
What is Vaginal Steaming?
Vaginal steaming involves a woman sitting on top of a stool or other type of special seat with a hole in the middle. Below the stool, there is a large bowl containing steaming hot water and a combo of herbs, such as mugwort, wormwood, basil, and rosemary. The woman being steamed wears no undies, though usually is covered with a towel. Typically, she’ll sit atop the vaginal steaming seat for about 20 minutes per session.
Fans of this age-old remedy claim the herbal-infused steam not only opens pores in and around the vaginal and vulvar skin but also allows the natural herbs to be fully absorbed into the uterus. They claim v-steaming has been around for centuries in Africa and Asia and that this ancient practice benefits women by providing:
- Increased fertility
- Relief from menopause symptoms
- Relief from period complaints, including bloating, cramps, irregular periods, and heavy flow
- Faster healing after childbirth
- Hemorrhoid relief
- A “refreshed” and “cleansed” cervix, uterus, and vagina
Sounds too good to be true, right?
While the practice has been around for a long time, the truth is that there isn’t really much science to explain why people think it will medically benefit their bodies. In fact, numerous doctors and experts have taken to social media to urge women not to bring hot fire to their internal organs.
The experts cite, among other reasons, the fact that the vagina is a self-cleaning organ that doesn’t need cleanings -- be that with herby steam, harsh soaps, or otherwise.
Let’s also not forget that heating your lady bits above its natural 37-degree Celsius temperature is a really quick and effective way to help bacteria like candida to thrive -- so you’re basically giving thrush a red carpet entry.
On top of the lack of evidence for any tangible benefits to your vagina from steaming, there is also a missing explanation for how the botanicals infused in the steam treatments can balance your hormones. There is no medical proof that the common plants used in v-steaming, such as wormwood and mugwort, can do that.
Vaginal Steaming Risks
Not too long ago, a 62-year-old Canadian woman experienced second-degree burns to her cervix and vaginal membranes after squatting over boiling hot water for 20 minutes two days in a row. You see, she had a vaginal prolapse (a condition in which organs like the cervix and vaginal slip out of position) and read that vaginal steaming might help. Well, let’s just say it didn’t, and the poor woman had to delay her reconstructive surgery while she healed from her intense steam-caused burns.
So, are there risks associated with vaginal steaming? You bet.
Whether you have vaginal prolapse or not, v-steaming can cause painful burns and blisters to the delicate skin in and around the vagina.
Other risks of using herb-infused, steaming hot water include:
- Potential miscarriage if a woman is pregnant. Experts warn that some herbs -- regardless of how natural they may be -- can cause miscarriage. Additionally, there is no evidence that steaming could be beneficial in any way to either the pregnant woman or her baby. So if you’re carrying a tiny tot, avoid this at all costs, as nothing good will come from vaginal steaming while you’re pregnant.
- Upsetting the bacterial and pH balance in the vagina. This can lead to painful irritation and infections, such as bacterial vaginosis (BV), yeast infection, and thrush.
Another risk is losing your hard-earned money for worthless treatments. Experts say vaginal steaming fans overstate the potential benefits, noting that steam can’t penetrate vaginal tissues and or reach the uterus.
So, any claims suggesting that vaginal steaming would promote fertility, for instance, are really far-fetched because the steam can’t affect the hormones that regulate this particular process.
Better Alternatives For Vaginal Health
If your goal is to show your vagina some love by giving it the support it needs for optimal health, put down the steam and check out these healthy habits instead.
Okay, so on top of not steaming your lady bits with boiling hot water, add douching to the “just don’t” list. Douching is another age-old practice that women have used for years to freshen up their under regions.
However, your vagina is an amazing organ and totally capable of keeping itself clean. No douching needed.
Douching eliminates not only the bad bacteria in your vagina but also the good bacteria, which changes the pH level and makes you more susceptible to painful infections -- ouch!
To clean your vagina and vulva, make sure to use non-scented products and only wash the labia majora. The Mini Do It All Wipes from Love Wellness are an excellent way to remove excess sweat or feel a little cleaner without affecting the natural pH of your vagina. Our pH Balancing Cleanser can also help you to clean the vulva without disrupting your vaginal flora.
Check Your Lube Ingredients
It goes without saying that lubricant is pretty amazing. It can take sex to a whole new level for everyone involved.
Still, there are some questionable ingredients that aren’t very healthy for your body -- or your vagina.
Glycerine, for instance, is related to sugar. While it works wonders to keep lubes moist, it can also contribute to bacteria growth in the vagina (yeast loves sugar). Petroleum products are also hard no-nos because they can ruin your vagina’s natural pH level.
Other things you want to avoid include:
- Non-natural oils
Instead, give Sex Stuff by Love Wellness a go. Made with soothing aloe, Sex Stuff is free of ingredients like parabens and glycerin to match and maintain the vagina’s pH balance and good bacteria. Hydrating and super slippery for a good time (wink, wink), Sex Stuff is formulated to support the vaginal environment -- not disrupt it.
Start Taking Probiotics
If you’re not already taking probiotics, you should. Probiotics are good bacteria that are naturally found in your body and are crucial for keeping your GI system in check. Additionally, they also play a huge role in everything from immunity to muscle strength to your mood.
But the benefits don’t stop there -- probiotics also do wonders to fight off bad bacteria in your vagina that are introduced by things like sex, hormone changes, and harsh feminine hygiene products that won’t hesitate to disrupt this sensitive ecosystem. And that’s where an extra dose of probiotics comes in handy, helping to restore the much-needed balance.
When your vaginal ecosystem is out of whack, it leaves you susceptible to infections such as BV, yeast infection, and painful UTIs, just to name a few. Thankfully, a healthy dose of probiotics every day is all you need to keep your pH balanced and infection at bay.
Good Girl Probiotics by Love Wellness is made with eight strains of good bacteria for vaginal health, whereas most probiotics only contain one. It’s gluten-free and supports three key areas: reproductive health organs, the gut, and the immune system -- everything you could ever want from a probiotic and more.
A Final Word
So, is vaginal steaming safe? Is it necessary?
No, not exactly.
In short, your vagina is perfect just the way it is. The practice of vaginal steaming does nothing more than propagate a negative female self-image or the idea that the vagina -- if not actively managed -- is a dirty place, which just plain isn’t true.
Celebrate beauty and celebrate YOU. Love Wellness has your back with personal care ingredients backed by science to actually give your body what it needs to thrive.
So please, ladies -- don’t steam, boil, fry, saute, or slow-roast your vagina, and certainly not with herbs. You’re not a roast dinner (but don’t forget you are certainly a snack!).