In recent years, a procedure called yoni-steaming, or, more simply, a spa for the vagina, has become widespread among women. A big fan of her is the Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who argued that periodic steaming is beneficial for the vagina. However, doctors have a completely different opinion – they do not recommend practicing yoni-steaming. We talk about the essence of the procedure, its origin and danger in our material.
Origin of the procedure
The origin of the vaginal steaming procedure is unclear. There is speculation that it could be a centuries-old Korean practice or a fumigation-based practice that dates back to the classical period in Ancient Greece.
In 2011, a World Health Organization study on intimate care traditions in South Africa, Indonesia, Mozambique and Thailand found that the practice was relatively common. For example, two-thirds of women in the Thai province of Chonburi practiced vaginal steaming as a way to “maintain well-being and their female identity.” In Southeast Asia, 86 percent of women reported practicing vaginal steaming for self-care and postpartum recovery. Cultures of South and Central America also promote this practice as a postpartum healing agent to tone the uterus and repair damaged tissue. Finally, a study found that women who practiced vaginal steaming in Mozambique did it to narrow the vagina.
The procedure can now be done in spas. However, some women do it themselves at home.
The essence of the procedure
The essence of yoni-steming (“yoni” literally translates from Sanskrit as “womb”, but is used to refer to the vagina, and “steaming” comes from the English word steam, which means “steam”) is that a woman sits over a special hot bath with herbs that have a sedative and anti-inflammatory effect (such as wormwood, rosemary or basil) and sit for about 20 to 45 minutes.
Proponents of vaginal steaming believe that the penetration of herbal steam through the pores into the body can increase blood flow and promote healing.
Gwyneth Paltrow, a fan of yoni-steaming, said that after the procedure she received an “energy release.” And Chrissy Teigen, who was not sure that the procedure had any positive effect on the body, nevertheless was not afraid to do it.
Don't know if this works. But it can't hurt, can it?
– she noted.
Despite the lack of scientific evidence to indicate its effectiveness, vaginal steaming has become a popular comprehensive treatment. Its proponents argue that, in addition to cleansing the vagina, the procedure relieves pain during menstruation and also restores hormone balance. Other unproven benefits include reducing stress, increasing fertility, relieving symptoms of menopause, treating hemorrhoids, increasing energy, recovering quickly after childbirth, and reducing headaches.
Why do women practice it
According to Sarah Twogood, MD, the popularity of the procedure is just a result of marketing. In her opinion, Gwyneth Paltrow, who spoke about yoni-steaming in her Goop project, also played a big role in this.
However, the trend for the procedure, in her opinion, is also due to the fact that in recent years women have become worried not only about their appearance, but also about their health in general.
Her colleague Kelly Culwell adds that concerns about vaginal care are inherently not all that surprising, as women's health is an unexplored area.
There are many health problems that people with female reproductive organs face (such as recurrent vaginal infections, endometriosis, or severe recurrent seizures) for which there are not many options for treatment. Very often, however, brands or celebrities resort to cultivating a problem, which often leads to desperate people looking for solutions outside of traditional medicine.
– she notes.
The problem is that practices such as vaginal steaming are marketed as a non-medical way to improve the health of the vulvovaginal area.
I have heard that some of my patients do this out of curiosity or simply to say that they have tried it. I have had several patients who have struggled with what they perceived as foul odor or abnormal discharge and wanted to see if that would improve their symptoms.
– says Sarah Twogood.
Culwell notes that women steam their vaginas, greatly under the delusion that they will deeply cleanse them.
There is no evidence that this works and it doesn't really make anatomical sense. The walls of the vagina are closed from each other unless something is placed inside it. Steam does not “open” the vagina. It doesn't penetrate deeply, and even if it were, the cervix is designed to keep out anything from the outside to prevent infection. So the steam cannot get inside the womb,
The danger of yoni steaming
Not only is vaginal steaming ineffective, it can be harmful to your health.
Anytime anything gets into the vagina, it can cause an imbalance in natural bacteria, which can eventually lead to irritation or bacterial vaginosis.
– says Calwell.
In addition, this procedure can lead to burns.
You can burn the delicate tissue that is inside the vagina. It is much thinner and more sensitive than any other area of the body and absorbs chemicals more easily. Herbs can irritate this tissue and contribute to scarring.
Another danger is infection.
Heating can cause yeast infections and lead to the growth of other harmful bacteria, which will disrupt the microflora of the vagina,
– notes obstetrician-gynecologist, MD, Kim Landgdon.
In addition, the equipment used during the procedure can become a favorable breeding ground for bacteria. And spa sanitation is often questionable.
And, of course, pregnant women should avoid vaginal steaming, as it is not known how this practice can affect the development of the child.
Alternative to vaginal stimulation
Doctors recommend maintaining vaginal hygiene with simple daily practices and avoiding others – especially those not used in traditional medicine.
Do not use perfumed products outside or inside the vagina. I mean soaps, lotions, perfumed tampons and / or pads. Don't douch. Wear breathable clothing. Avoid clothing that retain moisture or sports clothing. Change your diet according to your cycle and recommendations. Taking a bath of moderate temperature for 10-15 minutes three times a day will help with irritation of the vulva or vagina,
– says Sarah Twogood.
Her colleagues note that the vagina is a unique organ that is capable of self-cleaning, so you can do nothing with it at all.
Leave the vagina alone. It does not need to be cleaned. Only the external genitals (vulva, labia and perineum) should be washed with warm water and soap and rinsed,
There is no scientific evidence to support the benefits of vaginal steaming, as we said. And most obstetricians-gynecologists and other doctors strongly recommend giving up this practice. In any case, we do not recommend experimenting with your health and first we advise you to consult a doctor.