Is Vaginal Steaming Safe? A Breakdown of the Out-There Celebrity Spa Treatment
Chrissy Teigen is the latest celebrity to try vaginal steaming. Should you do the treatment?
Yesterday, social media maven Chrissy Teigen shared a photo on her Instagram donning a white face mask and holding a heat pad around her neck. In addition to these two common relaxation practices, the model—who just had her second baby with husband John Legend on May 17—mentioned she was doing a "vagina steam."
At first I thought she was kidding about the last treatment because she joked about the outcome writing, "No I don't know if any of this works but it can't hurt right? *vagina dissolves*," but serious or not, she's far from the first celebrity to talk about getting her vagina steamed.
Celebrities are always purporting the benefits of out-there beauty and wellness fixes that look effective and sound like miracle cures—remember the waist-training boom sparked by the Kardashians?—but is there science to back up the theorized results? Is vaginal steaming even safe?
Gwyneth Paltrow is credited with first popularizing vaginal steaming through her lifestyle company, Goop, as well as promoting the practice of inserting jade eggs into your vagina for alleged sexual health benefits as well as spiritual reasons.
So What Is Vaginal Steaming, Anyway?
Vaginal steaming, also known as "yoni" steaming and v steaming, is an alternative therapy used by women seeking holistic ways to detox and heal their vaginas, alleviate menstrual symptoms, balance hormones, and increase sexual pleasure. During the treatment, women sit naked over steaming water infused with various herbs.
While the practice has been around for a long time, there isn't much science to explain why people think it will medically benefit their bodies. In fact, some doctors and experts even say the practice could be harmful.
So What Do Doctors Think of Vaginal Steaming?
According to Dr. Jen Gunter, the board certified OB/GYN behind the blog Wielding the Lasso of Truth, you should definitively not steam your vagina because it's a self-cleaning organ, and the parts of your vagina that keep it clean and healthy can be disrupted and derailed easily. Aiming steam at your vagina changes its environment and can affect the way it naturally functions and cares for itself the same way other "cleansing" practices like douching can be detrimental to vaginal health and throw your bodily functions out of balance.
Dr. April Dunmyre, an OB/GYN at Magee Women's Care Associates at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, explained to TODAY that vaginal steaming can be hazardous externally as well as internally. "If they are getting their water to boiling, it's going to be warm and we worry about burns that would be difficult to treat," she said.
Expressing a similar concern, Dr. Christine Greves, an OB/GYN at the Center for Obstetrics and Gynecology at Orlando Health, added to TODAY, "The concern with vaginal steaming also is, what if it causes harm? What if the steam is too hot and what if the herbs cause more irritation to the area?"
On top of the lack of evidence for any tangible benefits to your vagina from steaming (and risk factors), there's a missing explanation for how the botanicals infused in the steam treatments can balance your hormones. There's no medical proof that the common plants used in vaginal steaming, like mugwort and wormwood, can do that.
Gunter also refutes Paltrow's claim that vaginal steaming is good for uterine health. She writes, "Unless that steam is under high pressure (like with ejaculation) it’s not getting from the vagina into the uterus. Air (whether hot of cold) does not magically wander from the vagina into the uterus. Heck, even water in the vagina doesn’t get sucked up by the uterus."
OK so, vaginal steaming is not the apple keeping the gyno away, but experts have recommended sitz baths for women experiencing vaginal discomfort, which is when you soak in warm water up to your hips. I don't know about you, but I'll probably just stick to the doctors' advice rather than emulate celebrities to the point of putting my body at risk.
Throwing vaginal steaming into the "do not try at home" pile, along with waist training and jade eggs...