Vaginal steaming is something that I personally practice. I do it once a month after my bleeding days. For me, it eliminated the brown spotting and cramping I was experiencing–completely.
Since it worked beautifully for me, I have recommended that clients with similar symptoms look into vaginal steaming, but I know that it can treat a whole range of menstrual and fertility issues. So, when it came time to write a whole post to share with the Cycledork community, I figured it was best to turn to the experts!
Enter, Keli Garza.
Keli is the founder and owner of Steamy Chick, an online company that makes and sells vaginal steam seats and herb packets so that women can steam in the comfort of their own homes. She’s also put together a host of e-courses so that women and practitioners can become more knowledgeable about the practice.
In addition, Keli has the largest (and perhaps only) database of vaginal steaming case studies in the world. I was so impressed by her knowledge, the nuance with which she has approached steaming for clients with various reproductive health issues, and by her passion for getting this tool out there, I had to ask her all about it. Read on for our interview.
Kara: First, what is vaginal steaming?
Keli: Basically, when you steam, you sit on this little trunk-like box with a hole in it. Inside of the box, there’s an herb pot filled with hot water and herbs–and it is steaming. You boil the herbs first on the stove and then you transfer them to the box. The pot is low enough in the trunk so that it’s not too hot and it doesn’t burn.
If you’ve never experienced it before, it’s like taking a bath—you feel calm and cozy and clean afterwards.
Where did the practice of vaginal steaming originate?
I learned about steaming from a Guatemalan healer and did my first steam in a Korean spa. It’s still a regular practice in South Korea to treat yourself to a monthly vaginal steam at the spa, the way you would a mani-pedi. When I started to look into where it actually came from, it became clear that there is not one place of origin.
I’ve found that it’s practiced in every region of the world. It’s perhaps the most well-known in South Korea, but it’s also used in Sweden to treat urinary tract infections, and in Germany for postpartum care. I’ve also found instances of practice in Papua New Guinea, Suriname, Turkey, Italy, Cambodia, Trinidad and Tobago, Eritrea, the Navajo Nation—literally everywhere. It seems like every day I find somewhere new where this practice is in use. I’ve decided that everywhere there are vaginas, there is vaginal steaming–it’s just a matter of whether you know someone who practices it or not.
What are the benefits of vaginal steaming?
Traditionally, vaginal steaming has been used by midwives as part of postpartum care. It’s really great for women after childbirth to clean out the womb, tighten and tone the reproductive organs after birth, and it also helps with weight loss.
But, vaginal steaming can also be used to treat or reduce the symptoms of any gynecological issue such as:
- Irregular cycles
- Low libido
And that’s probably only a partial list! I’ve worked with over 600 clients, and in my experience, there’s really nothing that vaginal steaming can’t help with.
(Aside: Keli told me about some amazing cases. For concision’s sake: fibroids have fallen out, cysts have cleared up and surgeries have been cancelled. You can read some of these accounts, often written by the practitioners themselves, on the Steamy Chick blog.)
Is there anyone who should not steam?
Yes. Pregnant people should not steam. You should also not steam during your period, or any time that you are experiencing fresh, red bleeding.
Vaginal steaming is also contraindicated for menstruators with short cycles, mid-cycle bleeding, active infections with heat, and hot flashes. Instead you may steam with a customized protocol and should consult with me or a trained practitioners. People using an IUD should also only steam with the guidance of a certified practitioner.
What is the basic recommended use?
I recommend that clients steam once per month after their period. People experiencing menstrual cramping should steam once a few days before their period, and once after their period.
People with conditions such as infertility, fibroids, infections, PCOS, etc. will benefit from a tailored protocol, in which I adjust the amount of steaming time, how often you steam, and the types of herbs used. Drawing from my experience and database of case studies, and with the help of a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor, I’ve been able to create effective protocols for most reproductive issues. I’ve termed this specialization and field of study peristeam hydrotherapy.
Considering it’s such a universal practice, why do so few people know about it?
Particularly in Western countries, women have been in men’s care for the past 100 to 150 years [Editor’s note: see Patriarchy]. It wasn’t until the 1990s that there were as many women studying to be gynecologists as men in medical schools. When men took over care of women’s health in the 1800s, a lot of these old practices that were passed down by midwives were lost, and often discredited since men we not familiar with them.
Have you experienced pushback from the Western medical community?
Doctors often disregard the practice even though they know so little about it. I’ve had clients completely resolve issues like cysts and fibroids that they were scheduled to have surgically removed—and when they tell the doctors what they’ve been doing, the doctors still don’t acknowledge that the steaming caused the recovery.
But, people want this tool. My business has grown tenfold in one year because we are tired of being presented with birth control pills or surgery as the only options. Vaginal steaming works—it’s a noninvasive first-level treatment that is gentle on the body. Clients try it before they agree to surgery or hormones, and when it works, they tell their friends about it.
So, I’m hopeful that things will change because people are seeking out alternatives. I’m also working on getting my database published and am hoping that will result in medical studies on vaginal steaming as a treatment for many of these issues.
I’m also training midwives, acupuncturists and other holistic health professionals in peristeam hydrotherapy. The more people who can offer this tool, the more success stories there will be, and the more accepted and respected it will become!
Learn more about Keli Garza and Steamy Chick at steamychick.com.
Photo credit: Steamy Chick via voyagela.com.
Kara Ferreira is a fertility health expert who works with women to troubleshoot their monthly cycles and digestion so that they can feel their best and be their best selves. Read her full bio here.