Squatting over a mixture of herbs and steaming water for 20-45 minutes is an ancient practice that has gained popularity over the last couple of years. It is known as "vaginal steaming", "v-steaming" and "yoni-steaming".
Celebrities like Chrissy Teigen and Gwyneth Paltrow have endorsed the treatment. It claims to steam-clean the uterus, reduce menstrual symptoms like bloating and cramps, and balance female hormones, among other things.
But the detoxifying intimate ritual went horribly wrong for one 62-year-old Canadian woman when she suffered second-degree burns after attempting the procedure. According to the BBC, she had been suffering from a prolapsed vagina and had hoped the steaming would help her avoid surgery. Her story became a case study and was published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada.
Read: 7 things to never do to your vagina
Author of the article, Dr Magali Robert, said that a traditional Chinese doctor advised her to try out v-steam. She followed his advice by squatting over boiling water for 20 minutes on two consecutive days, which caused her to land up in the emergency department with serious injuries.
Gynaecologist, Dr Chantel Swart, told W24 v-steaming is a terrible idea because the vagina, like the mouth, is a self-cleansing organ and certainly does not require a steam clean. And, more than that, there are several dangers involved, including burning the extremely delicate skin around the vagina (vulva).
“Hot steam could be quite dangerous to the sensitive vaginal tissues. It is not possible for a cleaning of the vagina to balance hormones, as hormones are secreted by glands like the ovaries into the bloodstream,” she said.
New Jersey-based family physician Dr Jennifer Caudle also addresses the issue on her Youtube channel and says that there isn’t any scientific evidence to prove that vaginal steaming works, and that there is no research out there that has tested its supposed benefits.
“In addition to the potential injury that may happen from putting steam underneath your vagina, the other thing is that the vagina is perfect just the way it is. Steaming might even introduce bacteria or change the natural bacteria that the vagina has and make you more susceptible to other infections,” she said.
So, rather avoid the vaginal steaming – you don’t need it. Whether it’s to avoid surgery or in the hope of freshening things up down there, steaming is not going to help. Rather take a trip to your GP so that they can help you make informed decisions and avoid any unpleasant injuries.