Vaginal Steaming: Part 1 Modern Trend or Ancient Wisdom?
As a lifelong learner and lover of knowledge - and herbal medicine - I’m constantly looking for new - and ancient - ways to help you feel your best. I especially love things I can teach you about that you can then do for yourself at home.
One such thing is the V-Steam. V as in Vagina.
Or Yoni Steam if you’re more the Earth Goddess type, and depending on what corners of the internet you frequent, you may have heard about this.
Gwyneth Paltrow has talked about it on Goop and Chrissy Teigen Instagrammed a picture of herself V-Steaming after her baby was born.
It sounds weird. I know. Why would you want to steam your vagina? Isn’t it hot? Do you have to be naked? Is it like a facial for your lady parts?
Let me do my best to explain. While it may seem like a brand new trend for famous ladies with money and time to burn, v-steaming goes way back.
Steaming is Your Great-Great-Grandmother’s Medicine
Steaming is a practice that’s been used across the world in traditional cultures from Asia to the New World. It’s the kind of medicine that was practiced in the home, shared from one generation to the next, mother to daughter, sister to sister.
Of course with the rise of Modern Medicine the practice fell out of favor in the West, dismissed as ‘Unscientific” and replaced by the male dominated field of gynecology, which if you go digging around, doesn’t have a very nice backstory.
In Asian cultures however, V-steaming is still practiced regularly in hospitals, specialty clinics, wellness centers, and at home.
Here in the US, you can find V-steams in Asian spas and in some acupuncture clinics (like mine!).
In Chinese Medicine the practice dates back several thousand years and falls under the treatment method of fumigation. Vaginal fumigation sounds even less pleasant than vaginal steaming though, so I’m glad this recent resurgence is going with the latter.
Fumigation is the practice of burning herbs to produce smoke, or boiling herbs to produce aromatic steam for the purpose of delivering the aromatic, bio-active compounds, or essential oils, of a plant to the surface of the body.
Fumigation is usually used to treat skin issues, or imbalances in areas that have a mucous membrane like the nose, the respiratory tract, and the vagina. Mucous membranes are highly absorbent so this delivery method works especially well for getting these antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, astringent, and nourishing compounds into the body.
Why Should You Steam
V-Steaming can be done to support and enhance the normal function of your reproductive organs or to treat acute imbalances and chronic conditions.
That means you can steam to balance and regulate your period, reduce cramping and heavy flow, improve fertility, and reduce the complications of fibroids and endometriosis, to name a few of steaming’s wide applications.
There are two basic protocols that are safe for most women.
For some women, or under specific circumstances, steaming can cause increased bleeding or interfere with some contraceptives.
These circumstances are very easy to screen for and I’ll get to the specific contraindications in a minute. For now, I just want you to be aware that you should be fully informed and prepared before you go sitting over a pot of steaming water.
Always be discriminating when it comes to your vagina.
The first basic protocol is to steam once a week during each of the four phases of of your period.
The second basic method is to steam for three days in a row starting 5 days before your expected period and then again for up to three days after you’ve stopped bleeding.
These two protocols are generally balancing to your reproductive system and are safe for women who don’t have any of the following contradictions.
When Not to V-Steam
Don’t Steam if you:
Are currently on your period.
Are currently having any fresh red spotting.
Are currently pregnant.
Have already ovulated this month and you’re trying to get pregnant.
Bleed more than two times per month.
A couple other things to be aware of, that aren’t necessarily deal breakers for a short mild steam, but more of a Proceed at Your Own Discretion type situations are as follows.
Proceed at your own risk and discretion if you have:
An infection with burning sensations. Steaming the area may aggravate the condition unless you’re working with a practitioner that can prescribe you a customized herbal formula (like me!)
Had a tubal coagulation to prevent pregnancy. Be aware that steaming can help your body clear and repair the coagulated portion of your fallopian tubes and your birth control can fail.
The nexplanon arm implant. Again, the effects of steaming can counteract the ways in which this form of birth control is effective and you do run a small risk of birth control failure.
Short menstrual cycles. If you get your period more frequently than every 26 days, be aware that steaming can cause your period to come even earlier. If you decide to steam, make sure not to steam for more than 10 minutes and don’t use an external heat source to sustain the steam.
Once you’ve screened yourself and feel like steaming is appropriate for you and your current situation you can gather your supplies and get steaming!
Up Next: Part 2: How to Steam Your V