LivingVaginal steaming: what it is and why not do...

Vaginal steaming: what it is and why not do it

 

Social networks have made all kinds of useful information available to us to better understand our illnesses, seek answers to our symptoms and have a general idea of which specialist to consult. However, they can also generate viral information without any scientific basis, as in the case of uterine vaporization .

What is a vaginal steaming?

This technique has gained popularity in recent years by appearing in some television documentaries or seeing that some influencers or celebrities openly acknowledged that they practiced it. However, those who defend this practice refer to its use in Nigeria or South Korea .

According to the followers of this practice , it has numerous benefits. Among them, it helps with menstruation and associated pain, fertility , hormonal rebalancing, and a cleansing or “ detoxification ” of the uterus. Other effects also mentioned are related to diseases such as prolapses, or to tone and strengthen the vaginal muscles.

How do you do a vaginal steam?

Vaporization is based on preparing a saucepan or bowl of boiling water to which different ingredients such as flowers, herbs, spices or fruit parts can be added. This container is left on the ground and a stool or chair is placed just above it, with a hole in the center through which the water vapor rises.

The woman sits on the stool and covers her legs with a towel or cloth to keep the heat and steam in, and thus enhance its effect. To get all the supposed benefits of vaporizing, you need to stay like this for about thirty minutes .

In the absence of a container with boiling water, there is the alternative of squatting on some embers that you spray with water , and from there the steam is produced.

There is no scientific evidence

The scientific and health community is emphatic about it: there is no evidence to corroborate the supposed benefits of this practice. However, some of the women who practice it claim to find some improvement.

This is what we know as the placebo effect, which is taken into account in all clinical studies and is widely recognized in the scientific literature. For some people, the simple act of establishing a “treatment” routine is enough for them to notice a relief in the symptoms they suffer.

Most likely, with this practice of vaginal steaming, women experience a state of relaxation (as long as the water is not too hot, as we will explain later) which in itself has positive effects on health. This may be more pronounced if some of the symptoms are associated with stress or fatigue .

Potential Negative Effects and Dangers of Vaporizing

The problem with this viral fad is not that it does not bring any scientifically proven beneficial effects, but that it can also pose a danger to vaginal and uterine health . This was the case of a Canadian who went to the hospital with second-degree burns after doing this practice for two days.

This woman’s medical history was published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology CanadaI , which specializes in gynecological cases and research. In the article, it is described that he suffered from bladder prolapse that did not improve with the recommended treatments , and he had to opt for surgery.

However, he decided to try an alternative therapy in the hope that this would avoid going through surgery. He vaporized on the ill-advised instructions of a “traditional” Chinese medicine consultant for two days, 20 minutes each day .

Second-degree burns to the vagina and cervix were the most painful and visible symptoms for the patient and the doctors, but they were certainly not the only ones.

The importance of the vaginal microbiota

Another reason why this practice can be seriously dangerous is the loss of the vaginal microbiota , especially when it is done frequently. The vagina is an area very rich in microbiota, just like our intestine or our respiratory tract. However, the species of microorganisms that inhabit here must be very well regulated.

An imbalance in the number or variety of bacteria in the vagina can cause disease . The balance is maintained, among other things, with a suitable environment through factors such as temperature and pH .

When the vaginal or uterine temperature changes drastically, or the pH is altered by vapors that may also contain compounds from added herbs or spices, this will create a different vaginal microenvironment. Beneficial bacteria may be killed by this change in temperature or pH, giving way to other bacteria that cause infections .

Finally, the supposed “detox” effect of these vapors is completely unnecessary. The vagina (like other parts of our body), already has defense, protection and waste elimination mechanisms. As one of the main responsible we have the immune system itself .

For all these reasons, not only is there no scientific evidence of the benefits of uterine vaporization, but it can even be dangerous to our health . If you have any questions about alternative therapies for health problems, it is always our advice to consult a specialist .

References:

Robert. 2019. Second-Degree Burn Sustained After Vaginal Steaming. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. doi: 10.1016/j.jogc.2018.07.013

 

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