Vaginal steam baths: uses and recommendations

Vaginal steam baths have gained fame for their supposed benefits. They are believed to help reduce cramps, bloating, and other premenstrual symptoms.

Last update: September 28, 2021

Vaginal steam baths have been attracting the attention of thousands of women around the world for some time, as many celebrities have promoted their practice. This treatment, also called vaginal steaming or 'steam yoni», consists of exposing the vaginal area to steam released by some infused herbs in order to clean and reduce some ailments. Does it really work? Is there evidence?

Despite the fact that many anecdotal data report benefits, for now there are no scientific studies that show that its use is effective. Instead, health professionals warn that it can carry some risks, especially when it is done at home and without the necessary precautions.

How do vaginal steam baths work?

To perform vaginal steam baths, an infusion with various herbs is prepared. Later, the vagina is exposed to the vapors released by cooking, in a period that can range from 20 to 45 minutes.

Some spas Luxury hotels offer this service for a hefty fee. To do this, they use a special seat known as a "throne", which has a hole through which the steam comes out.

However, some people do it at home without special elements. Simply, the preparation is introduced into a basin and, after this, the woman crouches without clothes on the container to receive the vapors. It is recommended to put a towel around the waist and legs so that the steam does not escape.

In general, the herbs used are as follows:

  • Chamomile.
  • Calendula.
  • Basil.
  • Sagebrush.
  • Oregano.
  • Wormwood.
  • Rosemary.
Chamomile is one of the herbs most used in this technique.

Uses and benefits of vaginal steam baths

In traditional medicine, vaginal steam baths are used as treatment to "cleanse" a woman's vagina, uterus, and entire reproductive tract. With this, its advocates say, it is possible to lessen some common female problems, such as the following:

  • Menstrual symptoms: cramps, inflammation, heavy bleeding, and exhaustion.
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Bad vaginal odors.
  • Infertility
  • Hemorrhoids.
  • Stress.
  • Infections
  • Headaches.

Now, it is essential to consider that these alleged benefits have no scientific basis. There are those who point out that it works because it improves blood flow to the vaginal tissues, which would promote healing. However, these claims have not been proven by science.

So what do the studies say?

No quality research has been done to evaluate the purported benefits of vaginal vapors. Its popularity is due to online testimonials and claims from popular literature that, of course, have no scientific basis.

A publication published in Culture, Health & Sexuality suggests that This type of practice arises from ideas such as that the woman's body is dirty, that contemporary life is harmful and that it is necessary to be in constant improvement to maintain health.

But the truth is that there are many myths about female intimate health. Contrary to what many people think, the vagina does not require specific products or treatments to clean itself. As explained in Womens health, the vagina cleans itself due to the presence of a microbiome, composed mostly of Lactobacillus.

This set of bacteria produce lactic acid and other substances that regulate the pH of the area to prevent the growth of pathogenic microorganisms. In this way, they prevent infections and dermatological alterations, among other problems.

Therefore, it is not necessary to use soaps, vapors, powders, baths or any chemical product for feminine hygiene. An investigation shared in Epidemiologic Reviews warns that practices such as vaginal baths are, in fact, harmful. Its regular use is associated with disorders such as pelvic inflammatory disease.

With that said, one thing should be clear: it is not necessary to wash or "purify" the inside of the vagina. It has its own cleaning mechanism. For washing the external part, the use of water should be sufficient. If soap is used, it must be of a neutral pH, free of perfumes and irritants.

Can vaginal steam baths be dangerous?

There is not enough scientific evidence to determine if vaginal steaming is safe and effective. Still, there is some concern regarding the risks of burns from exposure to these heat-sensitive tissues.

In a case report released in Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, a 62-year-old woman suffered second degree burns after applying vaginal steam in an attempt to reduce a prolapse in the area.

In turn, it is believed that overheating of the intimate region may provide an ideal environment for the growth of microorganisms that cause infections. This is made worse if the items used are not properly sanitized.

For safety reasons, its application is not recommended in cases of reproductive system diseases, infections and pregnancy. In all these conditions, it is best to go to the doctor.

The vagina has a microbial flora that is responsible for regulating the pH and preventing infections.

What is there to remember about this treatment?

Although vaginal steam baths are sold with the aim of improving intimate health, the truth is that are unnecessary and can be dangerous. Under normal conditions, the vagina has the ability to clean itself naturally, due to its microbiome. If something upsets your pH balance, your gynecologist may order treatment to restore it.

Now, in case of resorting to this type of intervention, it is essential not to get too close to the steam to prevent burns. The environment in which it is carried out must be hygienic, as well as the elements used. If not, there is a high risk of infection.