Fertility Fridays: Vaginal Steams

Welcome to Fertility Fridays! In the world of pregnancy and birth, it is all-too-easy to forget the conception process can be challenging, frustrating and isolating for many. Each Friday we will feature voices of amazing women who are either they themselves on the fertility journey or are experts in the field. We hope to provide a safe place to explore the conception process, find wisdom to boost chances of conceiving and connect with other women on their own journeys. 

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There is a new trend on the rise among Southern California spas nicknamed the “V-Steam” - an herbal infused vaginal steam session, offering relief for a range of feminine issues. Needless to say, they are all the rage. For just $75-$100 for a 30 minute session, your vajayjay can have her very own spa treatment! For that price tag, there has got to be something special about this new fad. So what’s all the hype about?

Also known as a yoni steam or bajos, it turns out the idea of directing infusing steam at your lady bits has been around for awhile. In fact, the practice has been around for thousands of years, existing in cultures across the globe. It is most commonly known by the Korean name chai-yok, though evidence of the yoni steams existence can be found in ancient cultures such as the Mayans, Egyptians, and Indians. Most indigenous cultures to Asia have similar folk practices that have been in use for centuries. Unfortunately, there is little information to be found on the internet aside from the hype around Los Angeles’ latest trend. Because of the rise in trendy nature, it is often dismissed as woo-woo, or just the latest Hollywood trend.

In truth, vaginal steams are an amazingly effective fertility enhancement tool.

One reason they are trending in Western culture is because they work - women see results. Whether it’s debilitating menstrual cramps, irregular cycles or infertility, vaginal steams can, and do, provide relief and healing from these ailments. It is my goal to clear up the controversy around steaming, and provide a comprehensive how-to-guide accessible for any woman, anywhere. Because steaming your hoo-ha sounds strange, but if you are trying to get pregnant, I promise you it will be worth your while.

Why steam?

Many women have trouble conceiving due to improper blood flow to their uterus. Poor circulation to the uterus can look like: trouble conceiving or staying pregnant, menstrual cramps, excessively heavy bleeding or very light bleeding, brown spotting, blood clots, ovarian cysts, hemorrhoids, and hormonal imbalances, to name a few. Spending most of our day sitting in cars, at desks, on sofas, and chairs denies our evolutionary need to regularly squat, stand, kneel, and move. Our bodies aren’t used to all this sitting, which is why most of our uteruses are starved of proper blood flow. The blood is what nourishes and builds your endometrial lining to receive a fertilized egg. The blood is what detoxifies and replenishes your tissues. The blood is what assists hormones to balance. It’s crucial to have good blood flow to your uterus if you want to conceive. A steam is a wonderful tool for enhancing your circulation, detoxification, and directing nutrients straight to the uterus.

In addition, vaginal steams are great for:

  • fertility enhancement (trying to conceive)
  • regulating the menstrual cycle
  • pre/post menopausal symptoms (vaginal dryness, discomfort, pain with intercourse),
  • uterine prolapse
  • prevention and treatment of bacterial infections (yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, cervicitis, trichomonas)
  • healing after pregnancy
  • eliminating odor
  • vaginal lubrication
  • preventing and eliminating hemorrhoids
  • bleeding issues (scanty bleeding, blood clots, absence of menstruation)
  • menstrual cramps
  • endometriosis and ovarian cysts
  • healing scar tissue and cervical polyps
  • and much more!

How does it work?

When the steam rises, it carries the medicinal oils of the plant with it, and directly applies them to your vaginal tissue, perineum, cervix, and uterus. When choosing herbs for your steam, you want to pick plants that have volatile oils. Volatile oils are the essential oils of a plant that also contain aroma compounds.

[To get more technical:

For example, Lavender contains a chemical constituent called rosmarinic acid. In humans, rosmarinic acid is found to display biological activities such as anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant actions. Sounds like a good plant to use for vulvovaginosis….. ]

Directions:

A vaginal steam is a practice which I find very relaxing and meditative. It feels wonderful! You can do them even when nothing is “upset,” as they can offer nourishment and tonification to uterus. However, most practitioners suggest 1-2/x per month, right after you finish your menses and then again after you ovulate.

*Vaginal steams should not be performed if you are pregnant, in full menstrual flow, or have open sores or blisters.

  1. Pour 1-2 liters of purified water in a pot with a lid.

  2. Place one large handful of herb into water. (I do a double handful because my hands are small) A nice blend of equal parts – Lavender, Rose petals, Rosemary, and Mugwort - is anti-inflammatory, tonifying, antiseptic, and fertility enhancer.

  3. Cover with lid (to prevent volatile oils from escaping) and bring to a simmer/soft boil for 5-10 minutes.

  4. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes (lid stays on).

  5. BE CAREFUL not to burn yourself – experiment cautiously at first.

  6. Remove underwear and sit directly over steam. Drape towels around yourself to trap in the steam.

  7. Relax for 20-30 minutes, or until the steam is finished.

  8. Stay warm by wearing socks and proper clothing, you want to keep your body warm.

  9. Now Relax and Enjoy, and Stay Hydrated!

I recommend getting a stool or using an upside milk crate so your legs don’t get tired from squatting. You want something with slats or a hole so the steam can reach your vagina. There are also fertility practitioners (myself included) that offer vaginal steams, along with other amazing treatments, if you want to pamper yourself and work with an expert. I find steaming to be a special tool for my clients who are trying to conceive. Physiologically, it’s a way to get your blood flowing to your uterus, and apply herbal medicine directly to your sex organs. Emotionally it’s a beautiful, relaxing, and nurturing self care practice that many of us busy women are needing more of. It’s a time to pause and send your focused attention to an area most of us ignore until we want it to grow a human. There’s nothing more beautiful to me than seeing clients glowing, relaxed, and smiling after their steam, and tell me it was the best thing they did for themselves all week. And the babies that come after the steams, those are pretty great too.

What do you think? Would you give steaming a try? Or have you tried it? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Rachel Snow is a Women’s Holistic Health Practitioner in Boulder, Colorado. 

To learn more visit www.boulderfertility.com