In a recent episode of Red Table Talk, the hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter Willow Smith and mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris can be seen seated over a bowl of steam wearing a purple silk dress. They seem to be appreciating the experience of vaginal steaming.
A few years ago, an American model Chrissy Teigen captioned a picture of herself indulging in vaginal steaming on Instagram as "I don’t know if any of this works but it can’t hurt right?”
The popularity of vaginal steaming began with actress Gwyneth Paltrow extolling the benefits of vaginal steaming in 2015.
But what is vaginal steaming all about? How do you do it? Are there any benefits? Is it risky?
These are some questions that would be coming to your mind.
Read on to find out
What is vaginal steaming?
Vaginal steaming or V-steaming also called yoni steaming is an ancient technique practiced in various cultures like African, Mayan, Greek, Filipino, Japanese and few Asian countries.
The technique involves sitting or squatting over a pot of steaming water infused with herbs like basil, mugwort, rosemary, wormwood. Many Spas offer this treatment or it can be done at home.
For this to be done at home you will require- a basin or a special seat that has a hole for the steam to pass upwards, some herbs and hot water.
- Add a cup of herbs to the hot water.
- Place the hot water in the basin or the special seat making sure that the vaginal opening is above the hole that lets the steam pass upwards from the basin.
- Remove your clothes waist down and sit or squat over the basin.
- Put a towel around your legs to prevent the steam from escaping.
- You can sit over the steam for about 20 to 60 minutes depending on how fast the water cools.
The word ‘yoni’ in Sanskrit means sacred temple or pathway.
The treatment claims to provide benefits like
- Increases the blood supply to the vagina.
- Reducing menstrual cramps, bloating.
- Improves fertility.
- Better healing after childbirth.
- Treats hemorrhoids.
The technique has been in practice since ancient times and many people swear by the benefits it offers.
However, it is important to remember that there is no scientific evidence to back these claims. There are not enough studies performed to prove these benefits.
Modern scientific experts claim that there is no real benefit except perhaps improving the blood supply to the perineal region transiently. This too needs to be done in a very controlled manner & excessive heat can cause burns rather than improve blood circulation.
Do you really need a “facial” for your vagina?
The vagina undergoes a lot of changes throughout your lifetime with childbirth, perimenopause, menopause and hormonal fluctuations. It is a common perception that your vagina needs cleansing.
But the amazing truth of the vagina is that it cleanses itself. The good bacteria present in the vagina maintains the pH balance and prevents the growth of bad bacteria and infections.
The vagina does NOT need any artificial cleaning, let alone, ‘steam cleaning’.
Doctors’ advice against V-steaming or any such techniques of ‘promoting vaginal health’.
There is no scientifically proven way by which the herbs in the water could penetrate your skin and balance your hormones or improve fertility.
Besides, there are serious risks involved in cases where such techniques go wrong
- The heat and the moisture from the steam affects the normal vaginal pH and favours the growth of bacteria and yeast which leads to infection.
- Overheating of the vagina can also cause superficial or deep burns.
- The herbs used can cause an allergic reaction in the vaginal tissues or the perineal skin.
- Improper sterilisation of the equipment used for V-steaming at the spas can lead to transmission of various infections from one woman to another.
The vagina is a delicate and sensitive organ and the last thing you would want is burns or infections which will need further treatments.
A case study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada elaborates about a 62 years old woman who suffered from injuries after sitting over boiling water for 20 minutes on 2 consecutive days. She suffered second degree burns and underwent prolonged treatment for the same.
It is advisable for pregnant women to not try vaginal steaming since little is known about the effects of the herbs and the steam in pregnant women and on the growth of the baby in the womb and also due the adverse effect of possible scalding .
What are the other safety considerations?
The risks and adverse effects of Vaginal steaming can be quite serious, however, if you still wish to experiment with it, you should make sure to follow certain precautions
- If you want to get vaginal steaming done, ensure that the equipment used at the spa or at home are kept clean to minimise the risk of infections.
- If the steam is too hot or uncomfortable, move away from it. Avoid using water that is too hot.
- If you have had pelvic infections in the past, consult your doctor before getting the vaginal steam.
- To restore the vaginal pH, there are prescription medications or treatments available which are safe and effective.
- It is a myth that your vagina needs cleansing. Vagina has its own mechanism of taking care of itself.
- The evidence supporting the effectiveness of v-steaming is inadequate.
- Avoid using steaming, douches, perfumed soaps to clean your vagina.
- There are safer alternatives available to manage period cramps, bloating, haemorrhoids like heating pad, sitz bath, simple home remedies and over the counter medicines.
- If you want to try vaginal steaming, discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor before you experiment.
For more information on Menstrual Health & Hygiene, please check our other videos.
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