Guest Blog By: Birth Kweens Karly Nuttall & Ali Feroah
"When people hear the words vaginal steaming you can almost see their minds screech to a halt: "Excuse me, you do what to your vagina????" And since my enthusiasm for V-steaming knows no bounds because it is so easy and so gosh darn effective for a wide array of vaginal infections, sexual and menstrual problems, I'm always happy to give the quick and dirty break down of what V-steaming is and how I think it works. So here is a Q&A style overview just for you!
Q: What is Vaginal steaming?
A: Vaginal steaming is very similar to a facial steam...but for the other end of your bod. You simmer herbs specific for your needs in water until they are steaming and then kneel or sit over the steam for a prescribed amount of time dictated by the issue you are treating. (When you buy herbs from us at birthkweens.com/shop, you choose the herbs based on your issue or average menstrual cycle length and they come with downloadable detailed instructions. There is also a video tutorial under the highlights section of our instagram account @Birth Kweens)
Q: How does it work? A: As I've helped a lot of people with steaming plans addressing a variety of concerns and seen their results I think that the positive effects come from increased circulation to the pelvis and reproductive organs and from the absorption of the herbs used in the steams. Mugwort, an herb I use in all of my steam herb combinations is really wonderful at increasing circulation (among other things) as well. As the herbs boil, volatile oils are released and quickly absorbed by the mucus membranes of the vaginal tissue and voila! Q: Is this a new fad? A: No! It has actually been documented as a way of treating female reproductive issues on every continent going way, way back. It's still a common practice in Korea. Q: Do you need special equipment for steaming? A: Maybe! If you are steaming to get rid of an infection you only need the herbs, water, a blanket or sheet to wrap yourself in and a pot. Same thing if your cycles are usually less than 28 days apart. However, if you are trying to treat fibroids, bring your periods closer together or your cycles are 28 days or further apart you would really need to have a heating element to keep the steam going for a full 30-45 minutes. You can buy a steam chair with a heating element or get creative and make your own! Just google vaginal steam chair and find something in your price range! Q: What can vaginal steaming help with? A: INFECTIONS, both bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections Menstrual cramps Heavy periods Mid-cycle pain Painful sex Fibroids Ovarian Cysts Clots and old blood discharge Bringing periods closer together Lengthening the menstrual (It can both spread it out or bring it closer together depending on when and how long you steam and the herbs used) Shortening your length of bleeding postpartum (and easing perineal pain and cramping) Q: How long before you can see results? A: Obviously there will be a lot of variety from person to person but if you are treating an infection the results happen fast. When I have had yeast infections, steaming has eliminated them in 2 steam sessions. That can be anywhere from 1-2 days. Chronic infections can take a bit longer and benefit from supplementation and diet and lifestyle changes as well as steaming. Some people treating menstrual cramps may see results by their next period while others may need to wait 3-5 months before getting the full desired result. Usually when my clients are wanting to bring their periods closer together they notice a huge difference in the first cycle. My last client who was steaming for this purpose went from a 60 day cycle to a 49 day cycle the first month she tried it and that has been typical in my experience.
When my postpartum clients use steaming it usually shortens their bleeding from 6 weeks to 2-3 weeks. It also soothes tears and repairs to the perineum, vagina and vulva, decreasing postpartum cramping and eases the feeling of pressure and heaviness some people feel after giving birth. Q: Why does it get criticism? A: V-steaming has a lot of nay-sayers that have zero experience with steaming. There are quite a few opinion pieces from OBGYNs who say something like - vaginal steaming could cause infections and people could burn themselves. Well people could burn themselves doing a facial steam or taking a shower or eating for that matter but we trust that people know how to test heat before putting it on their body, right? And as for infections, I understand that it seems like adding damp heat to a yeast infection would make it worse but weirdly the opposite is true! I've successfully treated my own yeast infections using steam and so have many of our customers. Q: Are there any contraindications? A: Vaginal steaming is not known to be safe during pregnancy or while using a hormonal intrauterine birth control method such as Mirena so it is best to avoid if one of those circumstances applies to you. It is known to be unsafe while menstruating as it increases bleeding. It is considered safe while using copper intrauterine contraception such as the Paragard or any other contraception that is not inside the uterus Q: Where can you get herbs? A: www.birthkweens.com/shop has 3 different formulations at $35 each. The Infection Fighter is our best seller and used for treating BV and yeast infections. The Classic is good for postpartum or for anyone with a cycle that is 28 days or longer and that is true whether you are treating cramps or fibroids, bringing your periods closer together or steaming before sex. The Shorty is for anyone with cycles that are typically 27 days or fewer apart again whether you are treating cramps, fibroids, cysts, painful intercourse or any other thing! We also have an interview with Keli Garza of Steamy Chick on our podcast that you can listen to here to learn more about V-steaming https://www.birthkweens.com/birthkweens-ep35/ "