DR. MARC SKLAR, DACM, LAC
Natural Fertility Expert / San Diego Reproductive Wellness Clinic Founder
Vaginal Steaming and Reproductive Wellness
Jessica: [00:00:00] Hi everyone. Welcome. I’m Jessica and I’m here with Dr. Marc Sklar. I’m the co-founder of Leiamoon and super excited to be here with you today. A bit of background on who we are: My husband and I founded Leiamoon two summers ago now with the mission to “Empower the Womb.” We’ve been doing this by creating content and spreading awareness about positive menstruation mindsets and feminine self-care care practices, focusing specifically on vaginal steaming…So yes, vaginal steaming! Marc, I know you’ve had experience saying that phrase [many times].
Dr. Sklar: [00:00:41] Yes!
Jessica: [00:00:43] It sounds totally strange, but it is a really valuable tool that’s actually not some new bizarre trend. It’s an ancient therapy traced to several different cultures spanning the globe from South America to Korea, passed down for centuries and is recently gaining traction in modern culture. So to help demystify vaginal steaming, I’m honored to be interviewing you, Marc, the Fertility Expert of the Reproductive Wellness Clinic in San Diego. Marc is a Doctor of Acupuncture, a board-certified herbalist, and an oriental medicine practitioner whose amazing group is committed to helping couples achieve optimal health–equipping them with essential knowledge and support from a medically integrated perspective as he put it. I also love your mission statement: “To help women believe in their fertility, to help them empower their body to create new life using natural techniques.” Those choice words behind that philosophy of believing, encouraging, empowering, and creating is really spectacular just in terms of mindset with doctor-patient relationship. So, I caught one of your first YouTube videos three years ago titled “Vaginal Steam Baths for Reproductive Health,” so I couldn’t be more excited to be speaking with you about this particular topic. So hello, Marc! Welcome.
Dr. Sklar: [00:02:13] Thanks for that beautiful introduction. And thanks for having me, and thanks for finding me three years ago and reaching out! It’s an honor to be here, and it’s a topic that I talk about often and love talking about and encouraging women to participate in. So thanks for having me. Yeah.
Jessica: [00:02:33] It seems that this practice is rising in popularity–and I use the word “seems” because I’m very careful to recognize that’s probably how it looks from my perspective in my circles. But, let’s assume, rightfully so, that most people watching have never heard of vaginal steam baths before. Can you just tell us on a basic level what it is and how it’s done?
Dr. Sklar: [00:02:56] Yeah… as you mentioned in the introduction, it’s been done in many different cultures, and if we start to look at that it’s probably been done a little bit differently from culture to culture using different herbs [depending on] what was available to them in those parts of the world. The way I like to incorporate it into our practice and recommend it to our patients is really done to cleanse the uterus, cleanse the vaginal area, the vaginal canal…. I kind of refer to it as…like a facial for your uterus or vagina. For all intents and purposes it should be thought of as being cleansing, relaxing, nourishing, and rejuvenating. And so that’s really the mindset that I have and why I encourage it. There are lots of different things that go into it when it comes to fertility and reproductive health, kind of in the simple framework that’s kind of why we use it and how we recommend it.
Jessica: [00:04:03] So then the process involves sitting or squatting over a steaming bowl of water?
Dr. Sklar: [00:04:08] Yes essentially. Yeah, so there’s a couple different ways to do it when it comes to the technical aspect of it and I have some patients who prefer to put the herbs in the bowl and pour the hot water and just let it steep there and I have others who prefer to steep it separately and then poured into the bowl and transfer and so forth. It’s really what’s going to be easier and most useful and more practical for the person doing it. In general what we recommend is you boil the hot water, you get your herbs, you take a scoop of it, you put it into a bowl, pour the hot water over it and let it steep for about five minutes. I like to cover it while it steeps to keep the heat in. We used to have a kind of kettle pot that you can also boil the water and the herbs all at the same time in the pot, which is also nice. That’s why I said there’s all sorts of different ways to do that part of it.
[00:05:20] But in essence you’re taking that bowl of steeped herbs and you’re putting it…now the chair part which we discussed before we started the segment is a whole other technical issue, but you get an open chair similar to a toilet seat on top, you put the herbs underneath, you’re disrobed from the waist down and then you sit on top of the seat and let the steam come up. The key here is you want to be covered all the way around, so you’ve got to have either a big blanket or a big towel that drapes all the way around to the floor and cover so there’s really no opening, so the only place for the steam to go is up and you sit on the chair and allow that to happen. Periodically as the water cools down you might have to refresh it with a little bit more warm water and so that’s something to be careful of. I also say the distance between the hot water, the steam and your skin is also critical here. I’ve had someone try to do it with a sitz bath basin on a toilet and I think that’s way too close, or you really can’t use that hot water. I think that part of it is a little bit challenging or can be, so you want to make sure that that water’s always fresh. I usually encourage patients to sit there anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes depending on the time that they have and to relax, either listen to a nice meditation, read a relaxing book. This is time for you, it’s not time to watch TV, although I’m sure people do that, it’s not time to be working. It’s time to be with yourself, with your body, to connect with yourself and allow this to be a really relaxing process.
Jessica: [00:07:18] I’m glad you covered too distance from the steam because a few of our Instagram followers are writing in wondering how far is too far, how close is too close. I think the main concern would be don’t bring yourself a new [inaudible] as much as possible. Yeah, those are all different really valuable ways of being able to do it at home, either with the sitz bath or using the toilet bowl, or a camping toilet you were talking about, a lot of stools are out there for this specific purpose. So it seems to be a variety of tools available now for this practice which is great. Another question that we get a lot is, does the steam actually go up through the vaginal canal, through the cervix into the womb and uterus space? That seems kind of up for debate and [I am] imagining it may depend on where the woman is at in her menstrual cycle or how the body is positioned. [00:08:17] I’m curious if you kind of sunk deep into the rabbit hole of analyzing all of those potential spaces the steam might be carrying to and what that might mean. [12.6]
Dr. Sklar: [00:08:30] Yeah… I think it’s hard to know for certain how far the steam goes. I feel pretty confident that the properties of the herbs and the steam in which [they’re] carried definitely hit the external vaginal tissue. I think it… would easily get into the vaginal canal and possibly even the cervix…How far it gets beyond that is really difficult to know. And like you said, I do think it depends on how open the cervix is–so that would be based on kind of where a woman is in her cycle. That being said, if someone is trying to conceive, I only recommend doing this practice between menstruation and before trying. So I usually say just to keep it simple to ovulation, but if you’re actively trying, before that then we cut off [the vaginal steaming] before that. So, we don’t want anything to interfere with the environment, with the natural process of sperm getting to the egg, so if you’re actively having intercourse for conception purposes, and typically it starts before ovulation, then we would cut off [the vaginal steaming] before then. So with that, when you look at timing and practicalities of it, you’re really only able to get it in once–probably once, maybe twice in a very short period of time. If you’re not trying then we’ve got a whole month theoretically to do it and I think it’s totally fine to go at different times. For that then yes, I think doing it right at ovulation actually would make a lot of sense because that’s when the cervix is the most open and so it has the most potential to get as far up into the uterus as possible. I also don’t think it’s a bad idea to do it just as you’re tapering during menstruation, at the end of menstruation to start that there as well to help kind of facilitate that final process of cleaning out and emptying of the endometrium tissue and so forth. I think that’s also a fine time to do it as well.
Jessica: [00:10:52] So not during menstruation, but you would say…
Dr. Sklar: [00:10:54] I don’t like to recommend doing it during menstruation personally. I like to let the body do what it’s supposed to do. Now, there’s a lot of variables that come into play here, right. All sorts of different conditions, issues that potentially can arise or someone might develop in the reproductive organs, in pelvic area that may require a different protocol, different timing. But in general I don’t recommend doing it during menstruation, during the heavier days.
Jessica: [00:11:29] I guess intuitively it would make sense. When your body is naturally going through the shedding process or the release, you would think that you wouldn’t necessarily want to be counteracting that by doing [inaudible].
Dr. Sklar: [00:11:41] I don’t think that I’ve ever seen…if there is literature out there to show us that in different cultures they are doing [vaginal steam] during menstruation, I haven’t seen it.
Jessica: [00:11:52] That makes sense. I guess in looking at the history of it or its roots in eastern medicine the real primary function of it, you’re talking more about cleansing the uterus but are there other reasons why women would do this and why it might be better to do at certain times of the month than others?
Dr. Sklar: [00:12:12] Most certainly…. Well first I would say then if you’re trying to conceive or taking a break during that time period, so that way you can give yourself the whole cycle to do [the vaginal steam] as many times as necessary. But then yes…I do think steaming in conjunction with other lifestyle changes, herbs, whatever we might incorporate into it, also can have a profound effect. Yeah.
Jessica: [00:13:13] Then what are those effects of the steam coupled with the herbs? Even if you’re just to talk about steam alone, bringing moist heat to this area of our body, what does that do on a physiological level?
Dr. Sklar: [00:13:29] You know, just like anything when we think about heat, heat is always going to be more opening, more moving… [and] cold constricts, right? So just the natural process of heat in general first and foremost is going to increase [warmth] to that area. When we talk about moist heat like we’re doing here, then that brings more nourishment as well…. So I do think that combination is really important. You know in Chinese medicine one of the therapies that we use quite often is called Moxibustion and it’s a similar process. I mean, people would say, “Well, what does burning this herb on top of the skin–how is that going to be therapeutic? What’s that going to do? But there are thousands maybe even tens or hundreds of thousands of research articles just on using this therapy for specific conditions and it has been documented to have very therapeutic result…. There are properties within the herbs that we’re using, not just for moxibustion, but also absolutely here when we talk about steaming and these properties are then transmitted, if you will, right through the steam and through the heat and that moisture and those properties and those herbs, depending on what herbs you’re using are going to have an effect depending on what you’re trying to achieve. So I think it’s hard for our Western logical mind if you will, to grasp this and conceptualize this and really understand this to be true. But I’ve seen it clinically so I know repeatedly what the potential is and what can be possible and I encourage those people who are questioning this or something similar, to just let your rational mind step aside for a moment and practice it for yourself, see how you feel, see what happens during the process for yourself.
Jessica: [00:15:49] Again, even as you mentioned earlier about the idea of making space for yourself to kind of relax into this practice and end in a meditative way and the benefits it can have on that more kind of psycho-spiritual level are very deeply related it seems to the physiological benefits. You’re right, there is this tendency for us to want to sink more into the rational mind and want to know the science answers and that those are going to be separate from the more emotional body or spiritual answers. I think what you’re suggesting here is that we kind of need to start making this a dichotomy and really think about this practice as an opportunity to kind of experience physiological benefits that might also help us cross over into the psycho-spiritual emotional one. I think that plays a huge role in fertility, I am sure in your experience.
Dr. Sklar: [00:16:44] Yeah absolutely. You know I think–it’s not to say I’m a big fan of research and science, so don’t get me wrong in this, but I don’t think it’s everything, right. I think it has its place but there is a reason why something’s been done in multiple cultures repeatedly over centuries and passed down from generation to generation because it’s been seen to have positive results. So you know, we might call it an old wives’ tale or whatever wording we want to use. I prefer to say it’s something that you know–I like to trust intuition. I like to trust female intuition. I think it’s a little bit more intuitive than male intuition for the most part, making generalizations, but for the most part. So with that I have to trust that generations and generations and generations ago when this was started, that they found something that was beneficial both spiritually and physically, that this was something that continued to be passed down from generation to generation within families and then became more widely used. So there’s definitely something for a Western mind when it comes to science, but I don’t think that that’s the end all be all. Certainly science when it comes to research and steaming, there’s a lot that can be done and maybe should be done moving forward, but really very little that has been done up until this point when we start talking about the real research and science behind it and what therapeutically it can achieve together, looking at the cause and effect.
Jessica: [00:18:32] For sure and even I guess in your own practice to have these studies of where you can link steaming specifically to positive results….
Dr. Sklar: [00:18:49] I don’t have a lot of research in that regard because like I said, there’s really very little that I have found of good science I should say. But I think that would be more valuable to me or more important for me if that was the only therapy that I was using with patients. For me this is just a piece of the puzzle. It’s a piece I like and that I recommend often, just like other things, but it’s not the only thing that I rely on. Sometimes it takes multiple pieces to finish the puzzle… this is just one of those little pieces that go together.
Jessica: [00:19:32] Well, in which cases would you recommend this to your patients? Is it pretty general with you or are there specific instances where you’re like, “Oh, I know what you need: vaginal steaming.”
Dr. Sklar: [00:19:46] I do think that in general terms if someone just wants to do something that feels nourishing and therapeutic and they’re taking some time out for themselves, I don’t think there’s any harm in doing this, especially if you’re just going to do it once a month. Now I think with anything as you know people have potentially heard me say before, I have my mother whispering in my ear, “Everything in moderation.” You know I do believe that as long as we do this sort of thing in moderation and you’re not doing it every day, then I think it’s completely safe. But if you’re going to be trying to do this every day it’s excessive, right. So now you’re starting to get into a different territory where you’re starting to potentially change environments and that I you know I don’t condone. So I think just like with everything there needs to be balance. So if someone who came in and it wasn’t at the top of my list of recommendations, I would still say, “You know, I think you can do this. I would just have you do it once a month because it helps to be cleansing for the uterus… so I think you can do this.” Now there are specific conditions where anything that has any obstruction in the pelvic area, then I do potentially recommend it….
Jessica: [00:21:35] Great, I’m sure you get a lot of people coming to your office not knowing very much about the processes of their own body that happened involuntarily each month. They know they get a period and then they know now they want to get pregnant, but all this stuff in between has remained mysterious for most of our lives. It is a great mystery to just be fair, but so much of what you do must just be related to education and helping connect people to this part of their body so that they have a much deeper understanding of what’s going on, so that they can get to where they want to be. Which I think is part of your empowerment philosophy: empowering your patients with the information and tools to really get to know themselves, to be able to speak with their body more directly and get those results. So I think steaming as a practice in a sense can help women communicate with that part of their bodies, kind for the reasons you’re say: on a physiological basis because it is a lot to do with opening and bringing the heat…. Also just in developing that kind of mind-body awareness. Like, oh this is a space that I have here that’s not just for making babies either you know. It’s something that goes through this natural hormonal cycle every month and it’s certainly talking to us.
Dr. Sklar: [00:23:00] Oh absolutely. I mean I’m always amazed at the lack of education that women get about their bodies, all of us, men and women, but I primarily deal with a lot of women. I’m always amazed at the lack of education that they get about their regular cycles, their hormonal rhythms, their uterus. In so much of what the culture is here in the West is very much about being here and not here, right. Not in our bodies, more in our brain. So everything’s very logical and very less so about what’s going on, what do we feel and what does that mean and being in tune with our bodies. For women, I think it’s really important for you to be in tune with your body. It’s something that if we just listen to what our body says to us, then I do think that we can learn a lot and we might make different decisions as well. So the amount of education that I do with women on a regular basis is a lot, it’s extreme because of that lack of education that they get growing up. It’s such a–we don’t have to go into the politics of it, but like it’s such a taboo topic to start to talk about sex, breast and uterine health, and what should I notice in vaginal changes and things of this nature. It’s really not something that is communicated a lot, and the way it is communicated with or about in schools, even if they still do sex ed, which I’m not quite sure if they do. You know, they talk about it as something, hey we’re going to talk about this but we don’t want you to talk about it again. They make it to be embarrassing and not something to be honored and proud of, which I know is different in other cultures and other countries. So I think this makes it more difficult for women in the West to understand their bodies and understand what’s going on. And so just the subtle shifts, changes, signs, symptoms that change from week-to-week, day-to-day in a woman’s cycle can be very empowering because they give you so much information. Until this practice allows you to be more in tune with your body, allows you to understand your body a little bit more. I think it’s extremely valuable, right. Why am I having discharge now versus later and why is the discharge changing? Oh I did the steaming and my discharge..went away. These are all things that are very valuable pieces of information that I think we take for granted in many ways and we just ignore it.
Jessica: [00:26:06] For sure. What about stress? How does stress affects that cyclical nature or discharges as you’re explaining or other pieces of women reproductive health? I’m sure in fertility that can be a really big signal of why things aren’t going maybe as planned, because there’s just so much distraction from the body being able to relax into creation versus having a guard up against it.
Dr. Sklar: [00:26:34] Yes. I mean stress just like with any health issue is something that definitely needs to be managed, discussed and hopefully kicked to the curb if we can, but stress makes every health condition we have worse and there are countless research articles that just showed that. So if we can manage our stress then that’s a huge benefit to us. If this is a means to do that, because it gives you time with yourself, even if it’s just once a week or once a month, it’s more than what you had before. Now I do like to encourage more than that but if this is one way you do that and one way that you can gather yourself and be with yourself, be more in tune with yourself you’ll find that your stress levels go down, you’ll find that you’re more comfortable with listening to your body and more comfortable with listening to the world around you, that you might make different decisions. This goes hand in hand with that then.
Jessica: [00:27:42] Are the herbs that you prescribe alongside with steaming herbs related to ones that promote relaxation and destressing? I’m sure there are also ones that are specific to the reproductive system. I am just curious to hear. I’m sure there are different herbs that give different…
Dr. Sklar: [00:28:02] Well, part of it, for sure there are. All herbs do different things. My standard formula which is what I use right now and I am formulating different steaming formulas for different conditions currently, but my standard formula, if I’m not mistaken, is about 12 or 13 different herbs and they each do different things but part of the therapeutic nature also is how do they smell right. Like when we inhale it how does that make us feel. Just like essential oils essentially. So yes, I’m picking things for different reasons, but most of the herbs [selected] are [because] of the effect [they] are going to have on the tissue. What effect is this going to have on the area. So, like mugwort is one that I recommend and use in my blend. And that’s also the main herb that is used in moxibustion. I call it an herb, it’s a weed. You can find it on the side of the road if you decide to harvest it. But mugwort has a lot of therapeutic actions in Chinese medicine. It’s very healing, very tonifying and strengthening but also very [cleansing]. So that’s one of the reasons why I use mugwort a lot. But on the contrary, I have marshmallow in one of my blend and that’s very nurturing, right. So it’s about finding the right formulation for each condition essentially and kind of putting that together in the right way. But absolutely smelling it It’s definitely one aspect of it because that’s going to help us relax, right.
Jessica: [00:29:51] Definitely. Do, you find that there’s a difference or recommendation between using fresh or dried herbs or just where you’re sourcing them, whether or not they’re organic?
Dr. Sklar: [00:30:02] I mean all of our herbs are sourced organically. For me that’s always something that is very important. You know, I think if you have a garden with these herbs readily available, then sourcing them fresh, picking them and using them fresh like that, I think is awesome. I think most people practically just don’t and so the next best thing would be getting that dried herb just like you would use it for a tea, you’re just using for steaming.
Jessica: [00:30:36] I know some people asked about using essential oils with steaming and from what I understand that’s just extremely strong and the [inaudible] oils are just really potent and not necessarily appropriate for this practice. There’s quite a big different I guess in terms of potency from having loose dried herbs versus using an oil.
Dr. Sklar: [00:30:52] I think so. I mean essential oils have made a big push if you will in the last 10 years or so and they’re great but they’re really strong and processed and blended in a certain way to be very strong on purpose. I don’t recommend using them for steaming. I think you want fresh or dried herbs because there’s a process of the steeping of it also that breaks up the herb itself that emits the properties and the properties are different with oils. They’re not exactly the same with an oil as they are with–I’m not an essential oil specialist but from my understanding and reading, it’s not the same as using an herb.
Jessica: [00:31:50] That makes sense.
Dr. Sklar: [00:31:51] Yeah.
Jessica: [00:31:54] When you were mentioning mugwort, that’s the herb that I constantly hear about when I think of vaginal steaming. I think in general if you look at any Korean medicine it’s used for a whole host of different things.
Dr. Sklar: [00:32:05] Well yeah, it’s big in Asian culture. Yeah.
Jessica: [00:32:08] But I also really appreciate its relationship to–I think the other name for it is artemisia, and that kind of bears a relationship to Artemus the Greek god of the moon and there’s like all this symbolism packed behind it too and its relationship to the moon and having this silvery underside of its leaf. So how much of the signature of the plant do you pick up when you’re prescribing that as your main vaginal steam herb?
Dr. Sklar: [00:32:40] You know I haven’t thought of it in that way. I’d say that I like that sense of it but that’s not typically how I decide. You know most herbs have multiple properties and actions and so I’m looking at those as my primary means of picking it out, but you know each herb also has a flavor and other qualities to it but it’s not just about this properties right. Some of them might be pungent and warm and so all of those things are things that we have to take into account when we’re looking at formulation, right. At least from my practice of Chinese medicine, we rarely use [only] one herb in anything. Very rarely–it’s usually a blend. And it’s about… not just what those individual properties are on their own, but how do they work together with one another. And you have to take into account all of those things.
Jessica: [00:33:48] Well I guess too that it’s nice to know that compared to essential oils the herbal actions are relatively subtle or somewhat tempered by the heat or the steam that’s carrying the herb. There’s a lot of concern [about whether] steaming causes yeast infections or really disrupts the microbiome of the vagina and does this harm the beneficial bacteria in some way. So I’m curious if you have any ways of dispelling those types of thought trains that seem to kind of bash vaginal steaming as a practice, and if there are any real health risks concerning steaming that we should know about.
Dr. Sklar: [00:34:34] I mean, I’ve seen some of those concerns as well and I don’t really find them to be true. The biggest concern from me is burn[s]. Like, how close to your skin are you putting it. So, you can absolutely burn yourself with steam. So that’s really my biggest concern with patients and I always want everyone to be careful about that. That aside, I have never seen anyone who does it properly and does it the way I suggest. I’ve never seen it cause any negative effects in the vaginal area. I’ve never seen it cause yeast infections. Quite the contrary. [For example], I recommend oregano as one of the herbs…. I think it would actually benefit something like that, not cause something like that to happen. On the flip side, like what I said before, I think if someone does this excessively and does this daily for instance, and I’m going from one extreme to the other obviously, but let’s do that for the sake of the conversation, that I do think it can change things. [If] you’re influencing the environment regularly and not allowing the body to recover from that and balance that out, then yes, I do think it can have adverse effects. I have yet to see anyone do anything like this, but I don’t want to discount that and then have somebody just start to do it every day. But I haven’t seen it in practice, and I haven’t seen anybody have any negative side effects from [steaming]. But you know in terms of changing microbiome: yeah, I would say the same thing. Like, if you’re going to have Burger King everyday then it’s going to change the microbiome of your intestines, right? Okay. Well if you’re going to do this every day it’s probably going to change the environment [of your vagina]. But if you do it once a month, twice a month, maybe even three times a month spaced out, then I don’t think that it will have that sort of effect, and I’ve never seen that.
Jessica: [00:37:01] That makes sense. I think just, again, using your intuition for when it feels appropriate to do so, especially as like a cleansing or releasing ritual–that it would make sense to do this after menstruation or even like the few days before menstruation to help encourage that flow. But to then do this like every day, personally that’s not how I’ve been attracted to the practice.
Dr. Sklar: [00:37:27] No and I’ve never seen anyone who said, “Oh, I want to do this daily. Can I do it daily?” It’s a process too, so it’s not that easy or practical to do on a daily basis.
Jessica: [00:37:39] I guess other reasons why you wouldn’t do this. Well, obviously if you have an open wound or something that would get irritated externally then yeah, avoid steaming. Also, I’ve been reading that if you have an IUD that it really wouldn’t be a good idea to steam. But I think it depends on the material of the IUD. I’ve read some different things on that.
Dr. Sklar: [00:38:08] An IUD and where its placement is can definitely be affected by [vaginal steaming]. I would imagine that it could be loosened. There’s also all sorts of variables [and] reasons why I wouldn’t do this with an IUD. That being said, I don’t typically have patients who have IUDs so it’s not something I’m thinking about often.
Jessica: [00:38:38] That’s what I was going to mention. I know your focus is more on helping people get pregnant, so you’re probably really dealing with people during a specific life phase. And I get questions a lot too about well, “What if I had a hysterectomy?” or “I’ve gone through menopause, why would vaginal steaming be something that would benefit me or something I would want to do?” I think still for the kind of mind-body connection that we spoke about earlier–that this could be a practice valuable to a woman throughout any life phase.
Dr. Sklar: [00:39:13] Yeah. And I think actually it would be really valuable for a woman who has had a hysterectomy or is in menopause or post-menopause because the tissue changes. The tissue becomes less elastic and drier and intercourse becomes more uncomfortable. So if you can revitalize the tissue, if you can bring more moisture and nourishment to the tissue, and decrease pain during intercourse, I think everyone would want something like that, assuming that they’re having regular intercourse, then I see no reason why you wouldn’t do this in those circumstances. I also think a time where it would be beneficial is certainly after the healing process and after you’ve done bleeding, but postpartum. I often recommend it for patients postpartum. I just want them to be done bleeding–and some women can bleed for weeks postpartum– so my only requirement is that you’re pretty much done bleeding postpartum, and then I think it’s really beneficial. Yeah.
Jessica: [00:40:26] Yeah and as this practice gains popularity….I mean you’re someone that’s been advocating for it for a long time and I think [you’re] someone that well studied in Eastern medicine and that makes a lot of sense for your practice. Do You have any suggestions for what we can do as a community of people promoting this way of healing to help dispel some of the negative talk around it?
Dr. Sklar: [00:41:00] So I don’t really focus on the negative talk very much personally. There’s always going to be negative talk about everything because there are negative people out there and they want to bash things. I just focus on the positive and I think really just talking about the positive effects, and also being grounded and open to more research, more knowledge and information about it is also important. But I really just focus on the therapeutic nature of it, how it can be used properly, and then really working around that and creating the community of women who want to take time for themselves, to nurture themselves and really promoting that aspect of things, I think is really where the focus needs to be on personally.
Jessica: [00:41:55] Yeah for sure. I mean, that’s what we plan to do too to focus more on the encouraging/empowering side of things than giving too much time to the criticisms. But at the same time, I think it is important to get the case studies better documented and backing up why this is such an awesome practice as it is, rooted in real history.
Dr. Sklar: [00:42:22] Yeah. I mean we need that we need that information. But I think that information should be gathered because we find it important and valuable for the practice, and not to basically combat those who don’t believe in it or are negative.
Jessica: [00:42:46] Well thank you so much Marc! Any other closing comments you’d like to share with us?
Dr. Sklar: [00:42:52] No. Were there any comments from those watching? We can answer their questions if they had any.
Jessica: [00:43:14] Anna says “sounds like steaming is ‘tea for the V.'”
Dr. Sklar: [00:43:18] I like that.
Jessica: [00:43:19] Could you drink mugwort tea while steaming with mugwort?
Dr. Sklar: [00:43:29] Did someone ask that question?
Jessica: [00:43:29] I’m asking this question.
Dr. Sklar: [00:43:29] Oh, you’re asking. We don’t usually use mugwort in that way. Mugwort I don’t often use to ingest–so, no I wouldn’t recommend it. But I think, you know, a nice relaxing rooibos tea or chamomile tea would be great with it.
Jessica: [00:43:49] From our Instagram we had someone ask, “Is vaginal steaming a purely spiritual practice or are there evidence-based opinions about the physiological benefits? What is the research behind it? We touched on that.
Dr. Sklar: [00:44:23] I think we touched on that right?
Jessica: [00:44:29] Someone was asking how to set a vaginal steaming to be in a comfortable or relaxing position.
Dr. Sklar: [00:44:36] Yeah that’s hard! Especially depending on the seat you’re using, it can be challenging. I think that it’s just trying to get as much padding on the seat for yourself [as possible]. Or maybe you only do it for 15-20 minutes versus longer. But I always like to have a nice environment…. If you need some support for your back, then maybe position it so you’re up against the wall so you can lean back if you need to. But I like to have some nice music. I like the room to be warm. And I like to have some essential oils in the background or meditation on. Just something you can relax into with it.
Jessica: [00:45:33] Another position I found is–I usually move around a lot while I’m doing this because it’s kind of hard to squat for 20-30 minutes at a time–but even getting into a child’s pose with the bowl kind of resting between your feet, from the backside… that can be a nice closing position in my humble opinion, for a vaginal steam.
Dr. Sklar: [00:46:02] I will trust you on that. I’ve never recommended it so I don’t have that feedback.
Jessica: [00:46:11] I’m getting another question from Eva. Any advice for menopausal women?
Dr. Sklar: [00:46:17] I’m assuming that we’re saying around using steam. It depends on what the advice is for, like what you’re having during menopause, but assuming that there are [no] issues vaginally, then yes I would be absolutely using the steam for this.
Jessica: [00:46:40] Yeah, I think even your point earlier about the lining or elasticity over time, that this would be a really great practice to kind of keep it moist or just “activate” it in that way too. Are there certain herbs that are better for that life phase?
Dr. Sklar: [00:47:00] Yeah there are! If I start naming Chinese herbs I don’t think anyone’s going to know what they are, but that’s where I would be using some of the Chinese herbs that I use frequently.
Jessica: [00:47:23] It looks like that’s all the questions I can find here in our Facebook comments.
Jessica: [00:48:47] Yes, that’s good. We have another question here from BJ.
Dr. Sklar: [00:48:57] How long does it take to practice steaming before you see changes? It really just depends on what changes you’re trying to see. Some things happen faster, some things happened slower. It also depends on how frequently you’re doing it. Most women that I’ve seen have always said that they’ve noticed some change with just one steam. Sometimes more discharge, which is not uncommon… Sometimes just a change in sensation or in the environment [of the vagina]. But for those things to be longer lasting, then I do think it’s got to be used regularly and repeatedly.
Jessica: [00:49:39] Something I’ve noticed on a more personal level is that even with the menstrual cycle you can experience some stagnation towards the end or beginning of your period, and maybe get a bit more brown coloration versus the kind of red, fresh blood, fresh release. And I think steaming really helps make that a much kind of clearer, thicker passing.
[00:50:17] This is an IUD question again that we touched on. Can you steam if you have an IUD?
Dr. Sklar: [00:50:17] Yeah, I don’t recommend it. As we mentioned earlier, I don’t think that’s the wisest thing to do.
Jessica: [00:50:26] I know some that do it but I personally don’t have experience with IUDs, so I can’t speak to that directly.
Dr. Sklar: [00:50:34] Yeah, I steer away from them.
Jessica: [00:50:36] I think it also has to do with the material of the IUD. Some of them are metallic and even if you think about that from a purely material perspective it would be heating up.
Dr. Sklar: [00:50:52] Yes, I agree with that completely. Excellent.
Jessica: [00:50:58] Yeah I think that’s our last question.
Dr. Sklar: [00:51:01] Awesome.
Jessica: [00:51:02] So thank you again Marc! This is so great to talk to you live here! For everyone watching I highly recommend checking out Marc’s YouTube channel, Fertility TV. There’s just so much content there and all of it is super great. It’s such a wide spectrum of subjects that you touch on there. Your fertility workshop is live now on marcsklar.com Check him out! And of course stay connected with us @Leiamoon on Facebook, Instagram, our mailing list. We’re preparing for two very exciting vaginal steaming-related product launches later this year that we really can’t wait to get out there and link up with you on! Thanks again for tuning in and have a great rest of your day.
Dr. Sklar: [00:51:56] Thank you. Bye everyone.
Jessica: [00:51:57] Bye. Thanks Marc, really appreciate it.
Dr. Sklar: [00:52:09] You’re welcome.
Jessica: [00:52:11] And we’ll keep you posted.