Frequently Asked Questions
What is pelvic steaming?
Pelvic steaming is an ancient wellness practice, involving the application of herb-infused steam to the pelvic region.
Also called vaginal steaming, sacral steaming, or yoni steaming, this luxurious form of self-care is renowned for its ability to rebalance difficult menstrual cycles, fertility challenges, and a whole host of other pelvic health issues throughout the various cycles of a woman’s life.
Who is it for?
While any person can benefit from steaming the pelvic region, my training and experience is focused on women, and I am not currently offering steams for men.
Steaming is safe for almost every part of a woman’s life journey: young girls approaching menarche, menstruating women, peri- to post-menopausal women, and especially the postpartum time. However, it is crucial to seek the guidance of a qualified steam facilitator; every stage of life mentioned here has slightly different needs, and every woman has unique conditions. The right steam plan is essential.
There are times when it’s not appropriate to steam. Ask a certified facilitator about contraindications before steaming on your own.
How does it work?
At this point, there’s no conclusive research on why this practice is so effective, but there are several likely theories:
- The heat from the steam increases circulation to the pelvic region, which improves uterine function.
- The herbs may enter the bloodstream through the highly absorptive tissues of the perineal area.
- From the perspective of Chinese medicine, the steam stimulates a point on the “conception vessel” meridian (CV1). This point is responsible for circulating qi (energy) throughout the entire body.
Is this safe?
Pelvic steaming is safe when you work with a qualified practitioner; it’s likely to be unsafe if you follow instructions you found online (or from any other source besides a certified practitioner). It’s essential that your steam session be tailored to you, in terms of the herbal formula used, the duration of the session, and the timing of your session within your menstrual cycle. It’s also crucial to work with someone who will teach you how to check the temperature of the steam before you sit down, and review other basic safety protocols before starting the session. I am a Certified Peristeam Facilitator, pursuing a more advanced certificate as a Peristeam Hydrotherapist (via the Peristeam Hydrotherapy Institute), so I am qualified to offer safe steam sessions and teach you how to steam safely at home.
Will I burn myself?
You should always check the temperature of the steam before you sit down (and work with a practitioner who can give you tips about how to do this). The steam should feel pleasant and mildly warm at all times; if it feels even slightly too hot, that means you should stand up and let it cool until it reaches a comfortable temperature. If you aren’t attentive, it is possible to burn yourself. However, if you can take a shower without burning yourself, you will be able to steam without burning yourself.
What can steaming help with?
Women all over the world have received incredible benefits through the practice of steaming. Common areas of relief include:
- Period problems (cramps, clots, absent periods, short cycles, long cycles, heavy bleeding, and acne)
- Cysts and other “bumps”
- Endometriosis symptoms
- PCOS symptoms
- Vaginal dryness
- Labor preparation
- Postpartum recovery
- Miscarriage & abortion recovery
- Natural induction of “missed miscarriage”
- Low libido
- Scar tissue
- Sexual abuse trauma recovery
What should I expect during my session?
This answer refers to in-person sessions only. Most people choose to book individual sessions, but some like to come in pairs (good friends, sisters, mother/daughter pair). For a list of all my offerings (including online options), click here.
We’ll begin with a brief discussion of your pelvic health history, and I’ll answer any questions you may have. We’ll also discuss the custom herbal blend I’ve created for you, and why I chose the herbs I chose. We’ll review some basic safety measures and the general flow of the session.
As far as the actual steam: You’ll sit on a special steam chair over a pot of water and herbs (never too hot — we always check the temperature beforehand), and simply enjoy the sensations. Your privacy will of course be maintained throughout the session; sensitive areas will be covered while you’re steaming, and I’ll leave the room while you’re getting settled in (similar to a massage appointment).
I offer several options for how to spend your steam time: enjoy a guided womb meditation, meditate quietly together, be led through a breathing exercise to enliven the energy centers, or simply sit and chat casually if you prefer.
I’ll provide all the supplies needed for the steam session (sauna chair, herbs, water, herb pot, blankets/covering options for modesty, seat towels, etc.) — all you need to bring is yourself.
Please be aware that steaming is contraindicated at certain times:
- If you are currently bleeding
- If you are pregnant
- If you are experiencing a burning itch on or around your vulva
Why should I steam if the vagina is self-cleaning?
I have a lot to say on this. I feel like most are pretty confused here, and there are a lot of layers to this discussion. I’ve heard the phrase “the vagina is a self-cleaning oven” so many times (and I’m sure you have too)! But what are people even referring to when they use the word “vagina”?? Most of the time we aren’t even clear about what they’re saying, because “vagina” is such a catch-all term in our society. Maybe the uterus is included when this word is used, but from the start there’s an issue with the use of language, and lack of accuracy.
I believe it’s correct to say that the inner labia, clitoris, urethral aperture, vaginal opening, and vaginal canal are “self-cleaning”, but only in a very specific sense…. In the sense that using soap (or other topical chemicals) on/in those areas will disrupt the natural balance of bacteria present. It’s inaccurate to conclude that because these parts of the female genitalia are “self-cleaning”, they somehow never require support or action on our part.
It’s so sneaky! Because it sounds like feminine-empowerment rhetoric to say that “our bodies take care of themselves”…. When actually, this discourages women from seeking (and getting) the care & support they need when things aren’t functioning correctly. The assumption is, “Oh, well my genitalia are supposed to take care of themselves, so my only option is to ride this out and see if it fixes itself, or get my organs cut out because they must be permanently messed up….”
In my opinion, that is not a solution. I’m of course not blaming or shaming any woman who has had a hysterectomy, or surgery of any kind, because chances are she was never given other options. The other options aren’t exactly widely available or even discussed!
But there is a middle ground, and that’s seeking natural remedies to support the restoration of correct function — just like with any other organ that isn’t functioning optimally. Nobody goes three days without a bowel movement and says, “Well I guess since my colon is self-cleaning I don’t need to try natural and gentle laxatives, like senna tea or magnesium powder or increased hydration….” (or a million other herbal options). They also don’t then decide that they have to live with constipation for years, until the root problem becomes so bad that they need their colon removed. Our society supports people in seeking support for themselves in that situation, because even though poo is taboo, it’s not nearly as taboo as the female reproductive system.
Lastly, I’ll clarify that the purpose of steaming is not to “clean the vagina”. The purpose of steaming is to deliver herbs and steam to the pelvic region, to increase circulation and therefore improve uterine function.
Can I get an infection from steaming?
Steaming cannot create an infection — the steam you’ll receive in our sessions is made up of water and herbs, and all equipment used has been cleaned thoroughly.
If you are dealing with an infection prior to steaming (even one lying dormant), steaming can draw out any irregular discharge from the vaginal canal — in some cases increasing the quantity of discharge from what you were previously experiencing. This is a sign that the steam is doing its job of drawing out mucus that is unhealthy (and can be a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses). There are also ways to manage increased discharge to ensure that the infection clears without creating excessive irritation.
If you are experiencing a burning itch, you are contraindicated to steam, simply because steam is warm/hot, and could exacerbate the feeling of burning itch if it is already present. There are other strategies to work with the feeling of burning itch, which would be more effective than steaming.
What supplies will I need to steam at home?
For the most comfortable at-home experience, you will want:
- A steam sauna box
- A pot that fits inside
- Herbs, ideally personalized to you (sign up for any of my packages and you will be able to order custom herbs)
You can also steam without a steam sauna box, using the “kneeling setup” (not recommended if you have difficulty getting up and down from the floor, or if you have sensitive knees). If you plan to do this setup, I recommend this style of pot instead of the tall one linked above.
Glass, stainless steel, and earthenware are all acceptable varieties of pots (avoid plastic, aluminum, cast iron, and non-stick), and I recommend a two- or three-quart size.
Can I steam without any herbs?
Yes, you can. Steaming with plain water will still be beneficial, but perhaps less potent than steaming with herbs customized for your needs.
You can also steam with a teaspoon of high quality salt, and this will increase the disinfecting action of the session.
Can I steam with essential oils?
No, you cannot steam with essential oils.
Essential oils are far too concentrated (and often far too drying) to be effective in pelvic steaming. If you consider the large quantity of plant material that is needed to distill a single drop of any essential oil (for example, 60 roses are needed for one drop of rose oil), you will recognize that essential oils are extremely concentrated substances, better suited to other applications where the proper dilution can be made.