vaginal steaming

7 Need-To-Know Q&As on Vaginal Steaming

Vaginal steaming— which claims to be a natural remedy to cleanse the vaginal area exterior and interior,  to help to regulate menstruation, and to ease period symptoms such as cramping and bloating— has been popularized by celebrities like Gwynyth Paltrow (actress and founder of the lifestyle brand, Goop) and Chrissy Teigen. However, the popularity of vaginal steaming with celebrities only tells part of the story— and none of the story when it comes to true effectiveness and medical backing.
Let’s dive deeper into vaginal steaming, what it means, and how it does (or doesn’t) help with vaginal hygiene. 

Vaginal Steaming FAQs

What is vaginal steaming?

Vaginal steaming is a natural remedy that claims to cleanse the vaginal area exterior and interior, as well as the uterus, helps to regulate your menstruation, and ease those nasty period symptoms: cramping and bloating.

Is vaginal steaming safe?

If you look just at the benefits of vaginal steaming alone, I can get behind this. The moist heat can help to increase blood flow as it promotes muscle relaxation and temporarily adds hydration to the area as well.

However, I do not see an internal benefit to vaginal steaming. It does not help the internal structures such as your vaginal canal, cervix, or uterus. Furthermore, there is a definite, and huge risk of potential injury from overheated steam from vaginal steaming.

What are the pros and cons of vaginal steaming?

PROS: Increases blood flow to the area, especially the moist heat. Promotes muscle relaxation. Adds temporary hydration to the area as well.
CONS: Herbs can put you at risk for infection. Potential for overheating and burning sensitive tissue regions. The position demand either squatting, or a chair, can place a high demand on your body, and exacerbate pelvic floor concerns.

What is the vaginal steaming process?

There are spas that offer vaginal steaming services, or you can do it at home. Here is the generally-accepted routine for vaginal steaming:

  1. Collect a combination of herbs, based on your affliction or aim for the treatment.
  2. Steep these herbs in the heated water for a set amount of time.
  3. Then somehow hover over (via squatting or sitting on a chair with a hole in the middle) and allow the steam to waft up right into your lady bits.
  4. Keep a towel wrapped around your waist to keep the steam in.
On spa websites and certain lifestyle blogs, you will see claims that vaginal steaming with herbs can help to detoxify, reduce fatigue, decrease menstrual symptoms, treat headaches, help hemorrhoids, aid in healing after childbirth, or even boost fertility.

Is vaginal steaming a good idea? Bad idea?

There is no gold-standard research to support vaginal steaming treatments, but if you look just at the benefits of vaginal steaming externally, there may be some benefits.

The moist heat can help to increase blood flow since it promotes muscle relaxation, and will temporarily add hydration to the area as well.

When we ONLY look at the moist heat factor, it could be said that vaginal steaming could help with muscle tension due to childbirth or menstrual cramps, and how it can help with adding moisture to that area if you are breastfeeding or experiencing vaginal atrophy.

When it comes to the treatment of internal structures, such as your vaginal canal, cervix, or uterus, or the claims around fertility, there does not seem to be ample research or evidence to support vaginal steaming. It does not help the internal structures.

Are there reasons for concern around vaginal steaming?

There are three major reasons for concern around vaginal steaming.

  1. Sending hot steam, with herbs in it, directly towards your vagina is the first concern. You may have unknown sensitivities to these herbs, or one could easily make the steam too hot for these sensitive tissue areas.
  2. Squatting is the next cause for concern for many people, and the other choice of sitting on a chair with a hole in it can actually cause more pelvic congestion because you are causing downward movement of the pelvic organs.
  3. Finally, this is a gravity-dependent position, which causes increased blood flow to the rectum, perineum, and vagina. This will actually increase hemorrhoid symptoms, negatively affect healing following delivery, and in many cases can increase your pain.

What’s the consensus vaginal steaming (from the perspective of a pelvic floor physical therapist)?

Overall, I don’t see a true benefit to vaginal steaming and would not recommend this as part of a pelvic floor physical therapy or pelvic health treatment plan.

I can, however, get behind sitz baths. A sitz bath is usually slightly warm water with Epsom salts and just enough water to submerge the vagina. Epsom salts will also not damage the natural pH balance in the vaginal area, which is important to keep a healthy pelvic region.

If you are looking for products to help with relief, check out my moisturizing article to find products that will treat your specific concerns the best. These treatment options all have a great deal of research behind them for all of the above-mentioned concerns.

If you’d like to speak with me, Dr. Laura Meihofer, about any pelvic floor-related concerns you may have, you can book a FREE 20-minute consultation HERE.

Or, if you’d like to learn more about all things pelvic floor health, head over to Instagram! You can always reach out in the DM’s if you have any questions!

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