From candles that smell like them to mystical eggs meant to heal them, vaginas are always a hot topic. People are constantly trying to find new ways to improve or polish their “whisper eyes”.
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Recently, vaginal steaming has made its way into chat. But this practice is not new. Vaginal steaming has been around for centuries, and some say it can help increase energy, reduce stress, and balance hormones. So the million dollar question is, should you steam your vagina? Ob/Gyn Talia Crawford, MD, weighs whether this Hot Seat is right for you.
What is vaginal vaping?
“Vaginal steaming, also known as ‘V-steaming’ or ‘yoni-steaming,’ involves crouching or sitting over a pot of hot, steaming water infused with herbs,” explains Dr. Crawford. “Often a blanket is wrapped around the lower body to keep the steam in.”
While this practice is newer in the West, vaginal steam detoxification has been linked to an ancient Greek treatment known as “fumigation.” This method involved sitting over a sealed jar of herbs that was heated in a hole in the bottom. A tube was used to transfer smoke from the jar into the vagina. The ancient Greeks believed that the uterus migrated throughout the body in search of moisture. Fumigation was done to keep it in place. Why? Because a traveling, thirsty uterus was considered the cause of diseases such as infertility and conversion disorder (formerly called hysteria).
In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a cross-country study that looked more closely at vaginal practices in Indonesia, Mozambique, South Africa and Thailand. The study found that some women practiced vaginal vaping or smoking to maintain their well-being and identity. Other women did it for a short time after giving birth. Other reasons for steaming the vagina were for vaginal tightening or a general beauty treatment.
Alleged benefits of vaginal steaming
Some say that vaginal steaming can lead to:
- Balanced hormones.
- detoxification of the uterus.
- Faster recovery after childbirth.
- Relief from hemorrhoids.
- Increased energy.
- Less headaches.
- General pain relief.
- Relief from stress or depression.
dr However, Crawford says there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. One more thing to keep in mind – the steam only reaches the outer part of your vagina. The steam does not penetrate your cervix and uterus.
“Certain medications are well absorbed vaginally. On the other hand, there are no proven health benefits for any of the herbal products used in vaginal vaping. Also, it’s not known if a sufficient amount of the chemical properties of the herbs are absorbed through the vaginal tissues to enter the bloodstream,” says Dr. Crawford.
Is It Safe To Steam Your Vagina?
dr Crawford cautions that vaginal steaming can be potentially dangerous. This is because the skin of your vulva is very sensitive and can suffer burns. She also says that exposing your vagina to steam and scented herbs could change the pH and cause bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections.
“The vagina is a self-cleaning organ, so the use of steam, douches, or other cleaning agents is not necessary or recommended, as they disrupt the natural balance of bacteria,” warns Dr. Crawford.
The equipment used could also cause problems.
“Also, vaginal steam seats or other devices can introduce harmful bacteria that can lead to vaginal infection if not cleaned properly,” she says.
And if you’re pregnant, Dr. Crawford to abandon the practice because excessive heat can cause complications or even birth defects.
Are there alternatives to vaginal vaping?
Not really. Aside from relieving pain after vaginal trauma or childbirth, Dr. Crawford, there are no known benefits to soaking in the tub. However, if you are a fan of baths, avoid using perfumed products as they can upset the normal balance of bacteria. And scrub that tub regularly. Because if your tub isn’t cleaned well, bacteria in it could cause problems below.
Stick to plain old water
“For the vagina to stay healthy, it needs to maintain a balance of good and bad bacteria,” advises Dr. Crawford. “For this reason, it is not recommended to clean it with soap, take a shower or introduce perfumed products. Just use water.”
If you’re experiencing vaginal pain, discharge, odor, or dryness, talk to your doctor as there may be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.