Vaginal steaming, sometimes shortened to V-steaming, and also known as yoni steaming, is an alternative health treatment whereby a woman squats or sits over steaming water containing herbs. It has been practiced in Africa (Mozambique, South Africa, Asia (Indonesia, Thailand, and Central America (among the Q'eqchi' people.
Vaginal steaming is described in spas as an ancient Korean treatment for reproductive organ ailments and is claimed to have other benefits. No empirical evidence supports any of these claims.
It has become a fad for women in the Western world. In a paper for Culture, Health & Sexuality, Vandenburg and Braun argue that the rhetoric of vaginal steaming mirrors includes sexist Western discourse about the supposed inherent dirtiness of the female body, and that its claims of improved fertility and sexual pleasure continue the view that the female body exists for male sexual pleasure and childbearing. There is no evidence that vaginal steaming has any benefits, while there is evidence to show it can be dangerous.What is vaginal steaming?
Let’s face it — between menstruation, sexual intercourse, and childbirth, the vagina withstands a lot. When you add changing hormones and pelvic floor issues to the mix, sometimes the vaginal area is anything but comfortable.
Vaginal steaming is an age-old natural remedy said to cleanse the vagina and uterus, regulate menstruation, and ease period cramps and bloating. After receiving high praise on Gwyneth Paltrow’s website, Goop, the practice has surged in popularity.How is it supposed to work?
Vaginal steaming directs herb-infused steam into your vagina. For a hefty fee, some upscale spas offer the process. You can also do it at home, although most doctors do not recommend it. The process is simple - you just sit or squat over a container of herbal-infused steam.
Most spas have a special seat (Paltrow called it a “throne”) with a hole for the steam to come through. It’s a little more challenging to do at home.What are the benefits?
Vaginal steaming is used as a natural remedy for cleaning the vagina, uterus, and the entire reproductive tract. But the purported claims don’t stop there.
It also allegedly relieves:
- hormone imbalances
- digestive issues
- generalized pain
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that vaginal steaming helps any condition. According to OB-GYN Dr. Jen Gunter’s website, it’s clear as mud how steaming herbs are supposed to gain access to your uterus through a tightly closed cervix at the end of your vagina.
The herb used on Paltrow’s vagina was mugwort. In traditional Chinese medicine, moxibustion is the process of burning mugwort on or over a problematic area of the body or pressure point.
Moxibustion is used as an alternative therapy to treat a range of reproductive system problems. A 2010 look at several systematic reviews found that except for correcting breech presentation in pregnancy, research on mugwort is contradictory and inconclusive. There is no research supporting the idea that vaginal moxibustion is helpful.Is it safe?
There is no scientific research to prove whether vaginal steaming is safe. But your vagina is not meant to be steam-cleaned. An overheated vagina may provide the perfect environment for bacteria that cause yeast infections and other vaginal infections to thrive.
Vaginal skin is delicate, sensitive, and easily traumatized. Using it as target practice for a plume of warm steam may cause vaginal burns or scalding.
There are not any accepted medical guidelines for steaming your vagina. This means unless you consult an alternative health practitioner, you are on your own to figure out which herbs to use and how often.
As with most natural remedies, searching the internet for how to do a vaginal steam provides contradictory information. Most advice comes with a disclaimer that it is not proven or meant to diagnose or treat any condition. This makes you wonder how anyone can recommend it for healing almost all that ails you in the first place.
It is true some alternative therapies are helpful and well-studied, but vaginal steaming is not. When it is used to treat a medical condition, you may end up skipping mainstream medical evaluation and treatment, and your condition could worsen as a result.
It is unknown how vaginal steam impacts you or your developing baby if you’re pregnant. Some herbs may cause miscarriage. So, you should not use steam or herbs on your vagina if you’re pregnant.Does Essence of Nature sell it?
It's fun to do with your girlfriend as a group, alone in a meditative state, It’s different, it is fun to do, It feels good afterwards. It’s like it’s like giving your “Vajayjay” a facial steam, it’s just downstairs below. We do not make claims of steaming to help with different ailments. We also give strict instructions for the customer to follow. We will never recommend boiling water. Simmer YES. Women have delicate tissues down there; you don’t want to burn. And there are certain herbs we avoid for steaming downstairs below. Some herbs are extremely potent; you do not want or need those types of herbs. Also, some herbs are allergenics (Know your own skin). We also don’t suggest steaming for an hour. We do suggest waiting till you are off your monthly to steam.Bottom Line:
Your vagina is a self-cleaning machine and does not need help from an herbal steam session. Its possible vaginal steaming may make you relax and ease cramping like a heating pad does, but evidence that it cleanses your vagina or uterus, improves fertility, and balances hormones is purely anecdotal.
Vaginal steaming may increase your risk of vaginal infection by altering the vaginal bacteria ecosystem. That’s not to say some herbs can’t improve reproductive health, but there’s no evidence steaming them into your vagina does so.
Herbs may be natural, but they are also potent. Used topically, they may cause allergic reactions. And the last place you want an allergic reaction is your vagina.
There are safer ways to use heat and herbs for period relief. Try using a hot water bottle on your pelvic area and sip a warm cup of herbal tea.
If you want to try vaginal steaming, talk to your doctor or a qualified alternative health practitioner to weigh the pros and cons for your situation.References:
Ghose, Tia (January 30, 2015). "No, Gwenyth Paltrow, Vaginas don't need to be steam cleaned". LiveScience. LiveScience. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
Hull, T; et al. (July 2011). "Prevalence, motivations, and adverse effects of vaginal practices in Africa and Asia: findings from a multicountry household survey". Journal of Women's Health. 20 (7): 1097–109. doi:10.1089/jwh.2010.2281. PMID 21668355.
De Gezelle, Jillian (2014). Q'eqchi' Maya Reproductive Ethnomedicine. Springer. pp. 21–22. ISBN 9783319107448.
Robinson, Ann (30 January 2015). "Sorry, Gwyneth Paltrow, but steaming your vagina is a bad idea". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
Oliver, Dana. "I Tried A Vaginal Steam Treatment, And Here's What Happened". Huffington Post. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
Written by Annette McDermott — Updated on September 18, 2018
Vandenburg, Tycho; Braun, Virginia (10 October 2016). "'Basically, it's sorcery for your vagina': unpacking Western representations of vaginal steaming". Culture, Health & Sexuality. 19 (4): 470–485. doi:10.1080/13691058.2016.1237674. PMID 27719108. S2CID 8176129.
McDermott, Annette. Weatherspoon, Deborah (ed.). "Vaginal Steaming: Use, Safety, Benefits, and More". Healthline. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
Robert, Magali (June 2019). "Second-Degree Burn Sustained After Vaginal Steaming". Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada. 41 (6): 838–839. doi:10.1016/j.jogc.2018.07.013. PMID 30366886.
Gunter, Jen (27 January 2015). "Gwyneth Paltrow says steam your vagina, an OB/GYN says don't". Dr. Jen Gunter Wielding the Lasso of Truth.
Beck, Laura Hopper (January 27, 2015). "I Went To A Spa For My Uterus And This Is My Story". Fast Company.
Fox News. (2010). Vaginal steaming: Just a bunch of hot air?
Gunter J. (2015). Gwyneth Paltrow says steam your vagina, an OB/GYN says don’t.
Lee MS, et al. (2010). Does moxibustion work? An overview of systematic reviews. DOI:
Specialty treatments. (n.d.).
Vandenburg T, et al. (2017). ‘Basically, it’s sorcery for your vagina’: Unpacking Western representations of vaginal steaming [Abstract]. DOI:
Photo Credit: Ava Sol