I’ve done Kegels. I’ve gotten my hair lasered off. And I’ve been known to enjoy a vibrator or two. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my vagina—including getting it steamed.
Up until now, you have may have thought steaming was only for tea and vegetables and maybe a DIY facial. But there’s so much more to steam! Why limit it to just food and your face? The Vagina Steam (aka V-Steam) is said to increase fertility, reduce cramps, release “toxins,” improve lubrication, and just freshen up one’s vagina in general. I don’t know about your vag, but mine personally has been great. I’ve never even had a yeast infection.
The Korean practice of vaginal steaming has been around for thousands of years but has just become popular over the past few years thanks to everyone’s favorite mascot for celebrity trends, Gwyneth Paltrow. Gwyneth has been known to adopt every hip foreign fad from Brazilian waxes to cupping while the rest of us are still getting used to the last one. Just when I finally got around to lasering (after religious waxing Brazilian-style), Gwyneth returned to sporting a full bush. The nerve.
However, I was not raised in Hollywood but instead by two decidedly more grounded science-types. Though they considered themselves spiritual, when it came to earthly matters, they were practical people who loathed anything that was not backed up by proof. So when it comes to things like vaginal steaming, I’m a little bit skeptical. It seems to fit into the questionable realm of colon cleansing and juicing.
I called my OB-GYN friend to ask her about the validity of vagina steaming. She laughed before replying, “You’re kidding right? This is a thing?” I assured her that in fact it was, and I wasn’t just drunk-dialing her. “Well, it sounds like it can mess with the bacteria down there. You shouldn’t mess with your pH or bacteria in your vagina, which is why OBs don’t recommend douching either.”
Okay, so the science is totally nonexistent, but I wondered if perhaps it would be relaxing—like a mud mask or a good glass of pinot. After all, I could always use more relaxing spa treatments.
So, I decided to find out for myself.
There is a spa in New York City that offers vaginal steaming, but at $75 a pop, it’s not so affordable or accessible for most women. Besides, steam is free! Channeling my inner Laura Ingalls Wilder, I made it my mission to do a steam at home. I googled “DIY Vaginal Steam” and found directions on the Yinova Center Website, an alternative medical center.
A vaginal steam usually involves some sort of herbs. I opened my spice cabinet and stared at the rows of glass jars, while pondering what my vagina would want. Chili flakes? Definitely not. Oregano? That would remind me too much of pizza. I would have loved some lavender and roses, but I was comfy at home sitting around in my fuzzy slippers and leggings, so I wasn’t about to go out and get any. I finally realized I had some fresh thyme and rosemary in my fridge. That would do.
A traditional V-Steam involves a slatted chair with a hole in it allowing the steam to rise up to your vagina. Alas, I didn’t pick up a chair with a giant hole in it the last time I was at IKEA (just kidding, they don’t have any), but I did have a toilet and a pot with handles just big enough to rest on the lid. Laura Ingalls Wilder would have been proud.
Once the water finished boiling, I let it cool off for 10 minutes so not to burn my precious nether regions. I poured the water into my handle pot (I opted to boil in a different pot so I wouldn’t end up sitting on piping-hot metal), and placed it gingerly on my toilet. Inhaling deeply, I gently sat down on my contraption. I closed my eyes and tried to visualize my “yoni” opening up like a blooming flower, the steam billowing in and giving my vagina and uterus the best facial of her life.
My yoni was not having it. I could barely sit for more than a few minutes before the steam began to feel like it was scorching the crap out of vagina. God dammit, Gwyneth Paltrow, I thought to myself. Part of me wondered if she just promoted this stuff to make the rest of us feel inferior about our lack of refined grooming habits.
Nonetheless, I was determined to complete my steam. Unfortunately, the pot began to heat up from the water and became too hot for me to sit on. I wrapped my bath towel around the circumference of the pot to protect my ass from burning and having anyone think I had been involved in some sort of bizarre sex ritual. Not that a lot of people see my ass. But I digress.
I sat back down, cursing the day I ever heard about the V-Steam. To kill time, I read a magazine and clipped my nails, but it didn’t stop me from getting up every few minutes to give my vagina a rest from the steam assault. After a half-hour of this torture, I finally got up. Rivulets of condensed water ran down my leg, startling me and making me briefly wonder if I had peed on myself. I immediately came to my senses, remembering that I just gave my vagina a facial for 30 minutes.
As I stood there pants-less, wondering why I had wasted 30 minutes of my life, I realized something important: My vagina is fine just the way she is. She’s in great shape and functions as she should, so there really is no need to steam anything. And far from feeling relaxed, I felt like my crotch was burning. I’m OK suffering for health or beauty (I do an acid peel once a month), but the V-Steam seemed to offer zero benefits. However, if you’ve ever fantasized about squatting over a pot of boiling water with no pants on, then a vagina steam might be just your jam. If not, you’re not missing a thing (at least I clipped my nails).
If I wanted to freshen up my vagina, I would have rather given her a piece of gum. Or, I don’t know, maybe just washed her in the shower like normal. Perhaps Gwyneth has a superior vagina that can tolerate the heat. Perhaps this would have been far more relaxing at an actual spa. Or if I had understood the temperature my hooha could handle. Gwynnie can keep her vag steams. I’ll stick to steaming my vegetables.