Vaginal steaming which is also known as V-Steaming is an age old health practice whereby a woman sits or squats over steaming water containing herbs such as mugwort, rosemary, wormwood and basil. In Nigeria, it is usually practiced amongst new mothers who delivered vaginally and may have been torn during the process. They sit over steaming water mixed with salt and disinfectant. The steam from the water is said to aid the healing process of the vagina tearing and prevent infection.
Vagina Steaming has been reported to have been practiced in different civilisations from times past such as: Asia, Africa and Central America. In Southern Korea, it is referred to as “Chai-Yok” and “Bajos” in South and Central America. While applying steam to your vagina can be quite painful, for some reason it is getting quite popular. With celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow touting its “wonder working powers”, a lot of ladies are following the trend of vaginal steaming once again. Vaginal steaming is said to have tremendous benefits. According to individuals that have undergone the experience; vaginal steaming allegedly relieves:
That’s quite a list! Dr. Arvigo Rosita, a naphrapatic physician, author and teacher of Mayan Medicine in an article in Mind Body Green, says that vagina steaming is extremely popular in Mayan culture and is quite effective. She explained that the tissues of the vagina are very porous and absorbent and that the warmth of the steam works to soften and open them up. According to her, when the herbs are placed in hot water, their medicinal properties including volatile oils are released and carried to the surface of your skin, and to the inside of the vagina, from where they are absorbed into the blood stream and ultimately into the uterus.
This medicinal herbal steam that has supposedly gone into your system increases circulation, thins mucus and cleanses the entire reproductive system, causing it to shed unnecessary membranes and build ups. By doing this, we allow the uterus to function at optimal capacity reducing the amount of work it has to do, thereby reducing discomfort.
But, don’t get your hopes up yet, because there is no scientific support for all the wonders that vaginal steaming is touted to be capable of. Medical experts are sceptical about it and in fact advise women to not engage in this trending practice. It is very important to note that the vagina like all other porous parts of the body is a self-cleaning agent and as such naturally cleans itself. Mary Jane Milkins, MD and Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Yale School of Medicine in an article on Women’s Health Magazine says that all the alleged benefits of getting your vagina steamed are totally “bogus” and that undergoing a treatment like that could harm your vagina. Here are some reasons to refrain from vagina steaming according to Dr. Milkins:
You could get burned: The steam used during V-Steaming is quite hot and it could lead to burns “down there”. The vagina sits right next to your bladder and rectum and a bad burn could damage the lining between the two of them leading to some serious issues.
It could get rid of the good bacteria: Not all bacteria are bad guys, some of them are actually good guys and V-Steaming could actually get rid of the good guys. Like regular douching (which is also not encouraged by medical experts) trying to cleanse your vagina with steam can make it dry and disrupt the natural bacteria that live there. The vagina is a self-cleaning machine; you don’t actually need to do anything to make it act that way. Besides, Milkins says that it is highly unlikely that the steam from the hot pot of boiling herbs could reach the uterus and even if it could, the bacteria in the lining of the uterus are actually quite small in number and do not need to be “cleansed”.
It won’t balance your hormones: The first thing to note is that your vagina and uterus do not produce any hormones. Hormones are produced in the ovaries and experts say that steam cannot balance those hormones there.
V-steaming is just similar to getting a sauna treatment, the difference being the fact that the heat is concentrated on one part of the body. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever on the effect of steam on the long term biological or psychological effects of steam on the body. However, things like stress, pain, orgasm, digestive issues etc. also have emotional and psychological implications. So, anything that makes you feel good could also help relieve those symptoms.
Therefore, most of the advantages of v-streaming are actually just good feeling effects rather than any biological or physiological effect.