VAGINAL STEAMING: Essential self-care ritual for your most sensitive parts
We are living in an era when the world is waking up to the innate power of women and learning how to better respect the female body, mind, and spirit. This awakening involves devoting a higher level of care and attention to the female anatomy, starting with the vagina and womb space. These are our most sensitive areas, our pleasure centers, and the places that we grow and birth new life from. The womb and its associated hormones power our cycles, which are incredibly useful indicators of our overall health and well-being. It is time for us all to pay more attention to these parts of ourselves, and to shift the mindset around the womb space from one of fear and neglect to one of reverence and empowerment.
Vaginal steaming has much to offer in the way of transforming this relationship. It creates an opportunity to easily open ourselves up, both physically and emotionally, and allow soothing and comfort into an otherwise tightly guarded space. The feeling of warm, aromatic steam on the vagina can be calming, cleansing, grounding, meditative, rejuvenating, and cathartic. It is a simple, beautiful way to tune-in and care for the most vulnerable and sensitive part of our bodies.
WHY IS THIS “A THING”?!
Beyond this value as an elemental self-care ritual, there are other major reasons why more women are taking to vaginal steaming every day. These include:
• Physical warmth: The thermo-therapeutic effect of bringing warmth to the vagina can feel comforting and relaxing.
• Postpartum care: This is the most well-documented historical reason for vaginal steaming.
• General cleansing: Vaginal steaming can help clear out excess matter from the uterus and vaginal canal.
• Preparing for pregnancy: Many women, herbal practitioners, and doctors are using and recommending vaginal steaming as part of an integrative approach to preparing for pregnancy and conscious conception.
• Releasing emotional/sexual traumas: Vaginal steaming creates a unique opportunity to reconnect with your most sensitive region, your root and sacral chakras, and to release stored emotions.
• Transitioning into menopause and beyond: V-steaming experts and individual women are reporting on the positive effects of vaginal steaming during this phase of womanhood.
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH THE HERBS?
Vaginal steaming traditionally involves squatting over a pot of boiling water infused with vaginal steaming herbs. Using plants and herbs in conjunction with steam is a deeply embedded part of human history. The use of plants as helpful allies for human well-being dates back to 60,000 years ago or more, while the tradition of steam baths has been traced back as far as the Pleistocene era (14,000+ years ago).
The variety of plants used in vaginal steaming is as wide-ranging as the cultures who have practiced the tradition throughout the ages. In a recent academic study of traditional vaginal steam practices in northern Indonesia, researchers recorded a total of 60 different plants used in that region alone.
While moist heat from the steam naturally warms and hydrates the pelvic region, the herbs used provide an aromatic effect and can infuse the steam with the essential oils of the plants. These oils commonly have purifying, cleansing, and rejuvenating properties. Healthy vaginal tissue is epithelial and mucosal, muscular and stretchy, and absorbent and porous, like skin. It is capable of easily absorbing the lush, herb-infused steam.
Plants also offer more than just their material effects. When you steam with an herb mixture, you will take in its fragrance, and may even get the sensation of tasting the herbs. You will also have the opportunity to experience and feel into the subtle energetics of each plant.
SO HOW DO I GET STARTED?
A typical vaginal steaming session looks something like this:
1. Bring ~ 4 cups of clean, filtered water to a soft boil.
2. Stir in ¼ cup to ½ cup of herbs, steeping them in the water with a lid on.
3. Transfer the herb-infused water to an approximately 8” diameter bowl, at least 4” deep, placed on the floor in the space where you’ve chosen to steam.
4. Wave your hand over the steam to gauge the safest distance to hover over the bowl. Be sure to choose a distance that does not feel too hot to avoid any potential burning.
5. Remove your underwear and squat over the pot, opening yourself to the steam. You can switch between kneeling, squatting, or anything in between, positioning your body for maximum comfort. There are special seats designed to make vaginal steaming more comfortable. Check out the new LEIAMOON Steam Seat, for example.
6. You can wear a long skirt or blanket around your waist to create a loose container for the steam to rise from the bowl to your underbody. It’s also recommended to wear socks to keep your feet warm, and to keep covered and warm from the waist up as well.
7. Steam for about 20-30 mins, using this time to deeply relax in whatever way you feel. Read, journal, meditate, enjoy!
8. Stand up slowly and dry off with a towel. Spend some time resting and reflecting, wrapped in your blanket, being careful not to expose yourself to cool drafts or temperature changes.
9. Enjoy the positive change in your relationship to your womb space.
When SHOULD I STEAM?
Depending on your specific scenario, vaginal steam baths are done prior to the menstrual phase of your cycle, or just after. Steaming before menstruation can help relieve cramping and relax the uterus and its contents before the expulsion of the endometrial lining. Steaming after menstruation may help cleanse and clear the uterus and vagina of any remaining matter at the end of the period. Changes in your vaginal discharge and menstruation after vaginal steaming are normal cleansing reactions, as the heat naturally thins mucus and reverses stagnation. Inform an experienced practitioner if you have any unusual discharge or response to v-steaming.
HOW CAN I EXPECT TO FEEL AFTER V-STEAMING?
After your first vaginal steam, you can generally expect to feel immediately relaxed, more in sync with your womb space and vagina, rejuvenated, confident, and receptive to your feminine creativity. Intense emotional release during a steam session is also very common. You might laugh or cry, and all is welcome! It has become rarer and rarer that we spend focused time on our vaginas in our own space and on our own terms, so while it may feel awkward at first, making this a regular practice can have profound effects on our ability to relax, ground, and even self-actualize. Whether you are post-period, postpartum, trying to get pregnant, menopausal, or just giving your most sensitive area some TLC, vaginal steaming has something to offer. So what are you waiting for? Follow our community on Facebook and learn more about vaginal steaming basics on our website.