What the Heck is a V-Steam?!


Everything was all set for a relaxing night in. I was wrapped in my fluffiest robe, my favorite chill-out music was cued up on my record player, a scented candle flickered in the corner of the dimly lit room, and I had scrubbed my toilet until the porcelain practically sparkled. Now, deep-cleaning my bathroom isn’t usually what I’d do to prepare for a quiet evening at home, but this was no ordinary evening: tonight, I was going to try a vaginal steam. I had learned to perform vaginal steams, or “V-Steams,” as I’ll refer to them here, at a postpartum wellness training a few weeks earlier, and was excited to try this on myself. For those who aren’t familiar with V-Steams, the process involves steeping a mixture of herbs in a bowl of hot water; placing the bowl in the basin of a cleaned and drained toilet (hence, the activities I mentioned earlier) or beneath a slatted chair; and sitting and allowing the steam to rise onto the vulva (please make sure it’s not too hot!). The properties of the herbal “tea” are carried into the steam and absorbed into the permeable and blood vessel-rich vaginal tissues. You’ll often hear people talk about it as a sort of  “lost mystical ancient wisdom” but in fact, V-Steaming is alive and well in many cultures around the world, like in Korea where it’s known as Chai-Yok and offered in spas, or in Central America, where it’s referred to as a bajo and is popular among indigenous women of Mayan descent. And the practice is beginning to pick up steam (pun intended) here in the U.S., especially after Gwyneth Paltrow raved about it on her lifestyle blog.

The herbs are chosen based on each individual woman’s health history and what she is hoping to accomplish with the steam. Natural health practitioners may suggest V-Steams as a remedy for a host of complaints, including fertility issues, irregular cycles, painful menstruation, and symptoms of menopause. They can also be very beneficial in the postpartum period by helping to promote healing, balance hormones, and relieve pain. Plus, it’s a nice restorative treatment for a woman who has just given birth, allowing her an opportunity to relax, take time for herself, and connect to her body.

Since I’m not a new mom, I used a concoction of herbs aimed at alleviating my awful menstrual cramps for my V-Steam. The experience was quite enjoyable overall – like a sauna just for my lady bits! Still, I have to admit that, even as a fairly crunchy gal, I was a bit skeptical that it would actually do anything. Yet, when my next period arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my cramps, though present, were much milder than usual, and my other PMS symptoms were practically nonexistent!

So, if you’re interested in a V-Steam, I’d say go ahead and try one out! Hopefully, you will find that V-Steaming works well for you. If nothing else, it’s a lovely self-care ritual!

Please contact Doulas of Denver if you’d like to book a V-Steam with us. V-Steams are not recommended if you have an IUD, if you are pregnant, or if you are experiencing any vaginal bleeding. It’s always a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before doing a V-Steam.