What to know about vaginal steaming
The practice has recently made the news due to celebrity reports that tout a variety of benefits, ranging from relieving period discomfort to improving fertility.
However, there is not any scientific evidence to prove that vaginal steaming works. No research studies have tested vaginal steaming or its benefits.
There are also a lot of dangers involved in vaginal steaming, especially burning very delicate tissues.
Learn more about vaginal steaming in this article.
How does vaginal steaming work?
Vaginal steaming involves exposing the vagina to steam.
Vaginal steaming involves sitting over a steaming pot of water that often contains added herbs. Possible herbs may include basil, mugwort, rosemary, and wormwood.
People who practice vaginal steaming believe the herbs can penetrate vaginal tissues and offer a variety of benefits.
Some people try vaginal steaming at home, but it is also available at spas. The treatment typically lasts between 20 and 45 minutes.
Some people believe vaginal steaming offers many health benefits and have called the practice a "facial" for the vagina.
Some of the reported benefits of vaginal steaming include:
- reducing menstrual symptoms, such as bloating, cramps, exhaustion, and heavy bleeding
- boosting fertility
- promoting healing after childbirth
- reducing stress
- treating hemorrhoids
- increasing energy and reducing fatigue
- treating headaches
Currently, there are no scientific studies that prove these purported benefits. However, some people say it works by enhancing blood flow to the vaginal tissues, which can promote healing.
What are the safety concerns?
The primary safety concern is that the steam could burn the sensitive vaginal tissues if it is too hot.
Adding extra moist heat to the vagina and exposing the vagina to certain additives within the steam could also increase a woman's risk for yeast or bacterial infections.
If the vaginal steaming equipment is not kept clean, a person could also be at risk for infections and other side effects. Therefore, it is essential to clean all equipment thoroughly before using it.
If a person goes to a spa for a vaginal steaming, they should ask the spa staff how they clean their equipment and what steps they take to reduce infection risk.
Vaginal steaming can be dangerous if a woman is pregnant. This is because the vaginal steam could affect the growing fetus.
Doctors generally recommend that pregnant women avoid using hot tubs, saunas, and heating pads around the pelvis for the same reason.
A doctor can offer advice on how to restore vaginal pH safely.
If a person does try vaginal steaming, it is essential to avoid getting too close to the steam or using water that is too hot.
If the steam feels uncomfortable or as if it is getting too hot, a person should move away from the steam.
Women who are trying to restore pH balance to their vagina due to frequent infections should see their doctor before they try vaginal steaming.
There are prescription treatments available to help restore pH balance. These are more likely to be effective than vaginal steaming.
The vagina is a self-cleaning organ that regularly maintains pH balance. Additional interventions, such as vaginal steaming or douching, are not necessary to maintain vaginal health.
Keeping the vagina clean, dry, and free of perfumes is the best way to keep the vagina healthy. Therefore, most people should not try vaginal steaming.
If they do try it, it is best to exercise extreme caution to reduce the risk of burns and infections.