Trend Update: Vaginal Steaming
Yes, you read right – you can get your lady parts steam cleaned. And you can do it in style at South Africa’s first V Bar, at Midori Eco Salon in Sandton. For just R350 for a 45-minute session, or R1,200 for four treatments, they promise to “kick-start your health, motivate your wellbeing”.
New, old trend
The practice, known as vaginal steaming, V-Steam, chai-yok or bajos, is one that has recently been appearing on the menus of upmarket spas and salons in the US – and now SA – and which Gwyneth Paltrow strongly recommended on her blog, GOOP. However, it is not a new thing, and (depending who you ask) for many years the Greeks, the Koreans, and the South Americans have done it. Asking around closer to home, we found out that some African cultures have also practised it.
Qinisile Mnguni, a Zulu mother of two, says, “Growing up, we didn’t have access to pills and medicines, so we had our own treatments. Our grans taught us to sit over a bucket of boiling water, with a whole onion placed in the water and a towel over our legs. Sometimes a medicinal herb was also added. The steam cleans your womb and helps women to heal after childbirth or a miscarriage. It was very hot and uncomfortable.”
Vaginal steaming can also include herbs like mugwort and wormwood added to the water. And if you are indulging in a fancy salon V-Steam session, seats with holes in them make the experience a little more comfortable.
The explanation behind how vaginal steaming works is that the onion or herb’s healing properties filter into the water, and are carried via the steam to the vagina where they easily pass through thin, porous skin to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Plus, the heat of the steam encourages increased blood flow to the area, helping to distribute these magical ingredients.
Other promises of what a V-Steam can cure include: menstrual cramps, vaginal and urinary infections, cysts, haemorrhoids, and infertility. It also claims to help relieve the symptoms of menopause, detoxify the womb, and release stored up emotions and tap into creative energies.
Is there empirical proof?
However, there is no proven medical evidence to support these claims. Dr Corné Brink, a gynaecologist and obstetrician at Life Hospital in Fourways, says that vaginal steaming is unlikely to have any real benefits, and is certainly not a plausible cure for infertility. And in an article on LiveScience.com, Pittsburgh obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr Draion Burch says, much like the ears and nose, “the vagina cleans itself” and therefore it does not need any special treatments. In fact douches and other methods of cleaning tend to have a negative effect in that they disrupt the normal (healthy) flora in the vagina, increasing vulnerability to bacterial infections. Douches have also been linked to increasing the risk of preterm labour.
Many women – Gwyneth Paltrow included – rave about the experience. Qinisile says, “I still recommend it as a treatment.” Perhaps to be on the safe side, speak to your medical practitioner before you try it out.