The Tide pod challenge, the Cinnamon challenge, and vaginal steaming are all idiotic crazes that have spread like wildfire thanks to the internet. In this post, we’re going to look at vaginal steaming and why you should avoid it like the plague.  Bacteria is important, people!

How did this start anyway?

We basically have Gwyneth Paltrow to thank for promoting this crazy trend. She didn’t start it, but she shone a spotlight on it when she recommended it. According to her, it is an “energetic release.” 

It entails sitting on a specially designed chair with a hole in the centre. The idea is to steam the area then. This is done by adding herbs to boiling water. The resultant steam supposedly cleans the vagina, tightens it, and helps to rebalance the hormones. 

Importance of Healthy Bacteria

It doesn’t really sound all that bad, does it? After all, who doesn’t want to spring clean their vaginas once in a while … we use steam to help open up the pores during a facial; it makes sense to use it elsewhere as well, doesn’t it? 

Actually, not when it comes to your vagina. To understand why not, we need to talk about how your vagina regulates itself and the importance of the good bacteria present there. 

It’s simple enough – the vagina, like your gut, is a self-contained ecosystem that doesn’t need any interference from us to keep it healthy. From puberty onwards, your vagina would have been host to a community of good bacteria.

This is a good thing – this good bacteria prevents disease-causing bacteria from gaining a foothold. They’re vital to our good health. 

The problem is that they are a little bit finicky. They’re just like Goldilocks – they want conditions that are not too hot, not too cold, but just right. They also require the vagina to be slightly acidic to keep them healthy. 

If you throw their environment off-balance or kill them off, it leaves the way open for more harmful bacteria to gain a foothold. 

Just Don’t Do It!

Steaming is a no-no for some different reasons. The most important of these is that the steam might kill off the beneficial bacteria. Add in herbs that have anti-bacterial properties, and it’s even worse. 

In addition to that nonsense is the claim made by those promoting this treatment that it balances the hormones. It is true that the vaginal tissue is mucosal in nature and so can absorb the medication. Steam, however, is not an ideal delivery system – there’s no way to control dosage. 

Also, by wafting steam you are creating the ideal moist, warm environment that thrush and other fungi love. So, if you insist on trying this out – enjoy that clean smelling vagina while you can, it won’t stay that way for long.

The so-called benefits of this treatment are completely fake. The treatment might even be harmful – imagine the damper a steam burn could put on your love life. It’s just not worth it – don’t do it. 

Final Notes

Where did we get the idea that the vagina in its natural state was dirty? It cleans itself, and discharge is perfectly normal. Now, if that discharge smells strong, then sure, you might need some medical treatment. 

For the most part, however, Mother Nature’s design is the best.

Deborah Kerr, M.A.
Author

Meet Deborah Kerr. She's a huge advocate for patient-focused healthcare. After twenty years of store management in community pharmacy, and ten years of corporate management for independent pharmacy, she developed an itch. The more she scratched, the more it spread. Why does menopause take so many women by surprise? Why does it have the ability to impact relationships, and families, and workplaces. It's insidious. She found herself shouting, "there has to be a better way".

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