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Close the curtains: yoni steaming myths

Monday May 03 2021
Yoni pic
By Lilian Ndilwa

Vaginal steaming famously dubbed as yoni steaming goes beyond than just a person sitting on a stool which is on a vessel filled with multiple herbs and steaming hot water in it.

It all started back in the days when new mothers would be told to sit on vessels such as a ten to twenty litre bucket which contained hot water with beliefs that the remedy would help in tightening their vaginas, relieve them of their pain and help them in cleansing the uterus.

It is from that tradition that women have currently been adding yoni steaming to their routine self-care.

It is an activity that is now taking place in beauty salons, spa and massage parlors as well as at people’s home. It is a less complicated activity that only requires a person to sit on the stool.

People who practice vaginal steaming believe the herbs can penetrate vaginal tissues and offer a variety of benefits.

However the activity has raised questions especially now with the increase of the trend which entails people purchasing herbs for the steaming procedure or being serviced in beauty bars.

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The procedure

Lilian Lema, an online seller of these herbs and tools used in the procedure such as the steaming stool says her herbs are comprised of organic products such as basil, rose petals, oregano, wormwood, rosemary and lemon grass.

She explained that when she sells the herbs in packages, she gives guidance on the way the herbs can be ‘helpful’ to her customers.

She broke down the way these herbs are used in the steaming procedure.

“The herbs are first boiled in water measured by four cups. The infused water is then poured in a bowl or a bucket that is set to be used in the steaming procedure; it should be supportive enough for one to sit on top of” instructs Lema.

Proper preparation should be taken seriously before the treatment commences.

“You then wave a hand on top to feel the water temperature, since the infused water should not be too hot. You then remove all the underwear and sit on the vessel with the infused water for about 20 to 45 minutes while covering yourself around to make sure no steam escapes” she adds.

Nevertheless she says that despite her business being an online one that could be easily reached by any person, there are restrictions to people with multiple conditions including pregnancy, menstrual cycles and when people have ultra-uterine device.

According to her the steaming procedure is highly dominated by the health benefits which are noticeably seen after a person participates in steaming activity.

Lema claims that when the herb infused water exfoliates the vagina, there are multiple benefits that come with it including reducing menstrual cramps, increasing fertility, assisting in maintenance of vaginal odour, speeding up postpartum recovery and relieves women of bacterial infections and yeast infections.

There are however, no scientific studies that have proven these purported benefits to be accurate or true.


A medical concern

However Stephen Masatu, a doctor at TMJ hospital says women should not be influenced by the infamous vaginal steaming conducted in their homes and beauty salons.

Masatu says that the vagina is one of the softest and sensitive skins on a woman.

He says it’s one of the parts that have to be properly taken care of because it can be unknowingly exposed to irritations that are a result of procedures including yoni steaming.

Being the softest and most sensitive area, the vagina can also be one of the most painful body parts to treat and heal after getting irritations from possible burns from steaming procedure.

Masatu says vagina has its own natural flora, which refers to the protective bacteria that lives inside the vagina.

These bacteria helps in keeping vagina healthy with substances that inhibit the growth of yeast and other unwanted organisms around the vagina premises.

This flora environment can be easily affected by the steaming processes, because of the temperature of the herb infused water.

Masatu says when a woman steams her private parts, they become even more vulnerable to catch diseases because the hot water destroys the protective bacteria in the vagina.

“The vaginal moistness also fades away after a woman steams because the vaginal tissues become exposed to the steam from the herb infused water. This makes it easier for that person to catch diseases because not only the moistness that acts like a protective layer in the vagina will disappear, the inhabitation of yeast fungi as well as other vaginal infections will also follow in line,” he explains.

It is not scientifically advised to steam with excuses such as enhancing the cleaning process of the vagina.

“It is a myth that vaginas need this treatment because there are no discards to get rid of” says Masatu. He further explains that there is no proof that steaming actually relieves women from menstrual cramps other than the fact that beauty salons and parlors now use ‘feedback screenshots’ to attract women into the steaming activity.

“If a woman feels that she has an infection, it’s highly advised for her to visit a medical center because they will be treated in accordance with the diagnosis from the tests run by the physician” Masatu advises.

There are times abnormal or intense menstrual cramps are a result of underlying conditions that are not easily treated without actual tests being run.

According to him, the beauty industry has tapped into vaginal steaming as one of the ways to make money off the desperations of women who are made to believe that something is wrong with their private parts. A notion that is untrue.

He explains that women need to make informed choices which can help them to avoid potential harm including exposing them to multiple diseases and unnecessary irritations.

For ages it has been known that women steam, with and without herbs, especially new mothers. This activity has misinformed women that it assists in cleansing and enhances the elasticity of the vagina itself.

Masatu says the whole steaming procedure upsets the bacterial and pH balance in the vagina. This causes irritation and infections, such as yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, and thrush.

In the beauty salons they misinform women by telling them that the end goal is to make their vaginas cleaner, to have fewer cramps and to open the door to possible fertility.

They use the steaming reactions on women’s bodies as the cleansing process. Something which is untrue.

“Most of these women are told when your period cramps exceed the, usual and when you have abnormal and coloured discharge after steaming, those are among the signs that steaming is working wonders on your body, but all of these are false statements. The vagina cleans itself, it is a very sensitive body part whose cleaning should not be as complicated or interfered with” he says.

On the other hand, potential miscarriage is another complication that a pregnant woman can face. He mentions that there are certain herbs are harmful to pregnant women and their infants.

“The beauty places that practice this activity are money hungry. They cannot even look out for pregnant women. It is the reason some women at times go through saddening life situations of losing their infants after having practiced yoni steaming” details Masatu.

It is highly advised for women seeking this procedure to be given first hand advice from gynecologists instead of practicing this activity without proof if it is helpful or is just another money scam.

“There are safer ways to treat different situations including menstrual cramps, these ways do not include vaginal steaming. Women have seek other means of help if they are looking for vaginal healthiness,” concludes Masatu.


How to clean and treat your vagina the right way

Despite the myths on cleaning and treating women’s private parts that have over the years circulated around the society and been passed down through different generations, this activity should be done carefully because one wrong move could lead to the worst irritation, pain or both.

Women are advised to evaluate and study about certain procedures such as yoni steaming and not follow ongoing trends that showcase the act as a beneficial activity.

Your vagina contains a lot of protective bacteria. These bacteria maintain an ideal pH balance in your vagina, which is slightly acidic. The acidic nature makes it hard for bad bacteria to infect your vagina.

The usage of soaps, sprays, creams and showers gels that are termed good for the vagina disrupts the bacterial balance. The beauty market has a range of feminine washes and sprays that are said to reduce odour, clean the vagina and other unending benefits. Do not buy these.

Your vagina does not need any of these items to be clean, and it certainly does not need to smell like a rose garden, it needs to smell like a vagina and be treated as such.

For treatment, yoni steaming is not the answer to vaginal infections; it can actually make the situations worse.

Visit a medical centre, and get yourself checked by a professional and get proper treatment.