As women, we’re bombarded with lots of messages from the media on how to look our best, stay healthy, and practice self-care – both outside and inside our bodies.
Enter vaginal steaming – the newest bodily self-care trend being promoted by celebrities and other holistic health practitioners. But is vaginal steaming safe?
What is vaginal steaming?
Vaginal steaming is pretty much what it sounds like – a woman sits over an opening where herbal steam flows into her vaginal area. There’s both professional steaming – offered at spas – where one sits on a special chair and the process is timed and controlled (not to mention costly!), or at-home steaming, where one creates a DIY basin of hot water, fills it with herbs such as mugwort, wormwood, and chamomile, and squats over it, allowing steam to penetrate the vaginal area. Spa services even include packages and “V parties” where you can invite your friends to partake in the experience.
So exactly how safe is this practice? And what are the benefits? Let’s break it down and separate the claims from the facts.
Is it good to steam private part: Myths and facts
Myth: Vaginal steaming is a good way to cleanse and detoxify the vagina.
Fact: The vagina is naturally self-cleaning.
Proponents of vaginal steaming claim it’s a great way to clean your vagina, rid it of toxins, and flush out dried blood from previous periods.
But the truth is, most of the time our vaginas act as self-cleaning ovens. Vaginal secretions work to clean the area and maintain the right amounts of bacteria in our systems. In fact, steaming the area with herbs or perfumes may actually disrupt pH levels, leading to infection – similar to what can happen when using douching products.
In short, you shouldn’t need a vaginal spa session to keep your vagina clean. Just follow regular hygiene practices by washing the area with water, caring for your intimate skin with a moisturizer, and noting any unusual smells. Our vaginas are self-cleaning, but they may need care and maintenance to function properly (i.e., clear out infections).
Myth: The heat from vaginal steaming increases blood flow to the pelvic area, which in turn increases sexual arousal and promotes healing.
Fact: There’s no conclusive evidence to support this, and the heat from the steam can be dangerous and cause burns.
Another purported claim of vaginal steaming is that the heat from the steam increases blood flow to the area and improves sexual arousal. Claims of this nature have been anecdotal only, with limited evidence to support them. In addition, the heat from the steam can cause burns that require medical treatment. This is especially dangerous for pregnant women, as any heat or heating device can cause damage to a developing fetus.
If you’re someone who enjoys and benefits from heating the genital area, we recommend relaxing in a warm bath.
Myth: The herbs in vaginal steaming treat infertility, regulate periods, and treat other hormonal issues in the female reproductive system.
Fact: None of these herbs have been conclusively shown to treat hormonal issues and some may even be harmful.
Some claim that the herbs used in the vaginal steaming process provide health benefits and even cure common reproductive ailments such as infertility or irregular periods. But again, these alleged benefits have been coincidental or anecdotal – no scientific evidence has been shown to support the claims.
And even if this were the case, it’s unlikely that 1) the steam could penetrate the vaginal tissues in the same way and through the same mechanisms that medications do, and 2) the steam isn’t forceful enough to travel through the vaginal to your uterus to provide the indicated reproductive benefits.
In addition, some herbs can be toxic or harmful. Even if they don’t penetrate the skin, they could enter via open wounds and cause damage.
In summary, there hasn’t been sufficient research or evidence to support the benefits of vaginal steaming, and it may be unsafe.