Gynaecologists have warned of the risks of vaginal steaming (v-steaming) after a Canadian woman got burned while attempting the therapy.
V-steaming is an alternative health treatment practised in some parts of Africa, Asia, and central America, whereby a woman squats or sits over steaming water containing herbs like mugwort, rosemary, wormwood, and basil.
It has gained huge popularity among spas and celebrities alike as a method to strengthen, tighten, cleanse the walls of the vagina and also to ease period pains, and help with fertility.
However, the Canadian Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology shared the case of a 62-year-old woman who suffered vaginal prolapse, a condition where muscles supporting the pelvic organs weaken, causing the urethra, bladder or rectum to droop into the vagina.
The patient had opted for vagina steaming and believed the treatment could help avoid surgery only to sustain a second-degree burn thereafter.
Vanessa Mackay, consultant for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, dismissed claims that the vagina requires extensive cleaning.
While Mackay recommended the use of un-perfumed soaps on the external vulva area only, she warned that v-steaming could be potentially dangerous as there’s no proven evidence for the health benefits many claim it offers.
“The vagina contains good bacteria, which are there to protect it. Steaming the vagina could burn the delicate skin around the vagina (the vulva),” she said in a statement.
“It could also affect this healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels and cause irritation, infection (such as bacterial vaginosis or thrush) and inflammation.”
Magali Robert, author of the report, said the injured woman steamed her vagina on the advice of a traditional Chinese doctor by sitting over boiling water for 20 minutes on two consecutive days.
“Health care providers need to be aware of alternative therapies so that they can help women make informed choices and avoid potential harm,” she said while speaking against the therapy.