Working with heat is nothing new for humans. It has been done for thousands of years ever since the discovery of fire. Vaginal steaming also is not a new fad. There is written documentation dating as far back as Mesopotamia, and it has been practiced in over 44 countries around the world (no Gwyneth Paltrow did not invent it). Steaming can be used to alleviate symptoms such as period irregularities, postpartum recovery, infections, general health maintenance, PCOS, endometriosis, fertility struggles, fibroids, cramps, and just about any other malady that affects a woman’s reproductive system and period cycle.
Last week vaginal steaming has made headlines yet again. This time it has been accused of causing second degree burns on a woman’s vagina. Being that steam comes from heated water, it is safe to say that at times the water may be too hot for a person to steam comfortably. In these situations, the recommended course of action is to stand up off of your steaming set-up and wait for the water to cool. It is confusing that a person would endure pain when the simplest solution is to stand up, remove themselves from the unpleasant experience, and try again only seconds later, ideally by placing your hand over the steam to test the temperature. If you suffer from a loss of sensation and have difficulty feeling heat, cold, or pain, please have a loved one test out the temperature for you.
Humans are born with an inherent desire to remove themselves from experiences that are unpleasant. Especially when that discomfort is in the form of physical pain. Every single person has touched something hot like a coffee mug, a baking sheet, or stove top and with that, the innate response is to make the pain stop. This is done predominantly by moving your body away from the source of heat, thus ending any discomfort. Vaginal steaming is no different.
Below are five every day activities in which a person is more likely to burn themselves than when steaming their vagina.
#1 Consuming Hot Food and Beverages
If you are a coffee or soup epicure, then you are well aware of the not so hidden dangers of ingesting overly hot food and drink. Each steamy cup of coffee and bowl of soup has the potential to burn the roof of your mouth and the tastebuds off of your tongue. To avoid these unwelcome sensations, many people hold their hand over their mug of coffee to measure its temperature or blow on their soup before eating it. As a species, humans have evolved and adapted many different methods in which to keep yourselves and your loved ones safe from the perils of hot food and beverages.
#2 Seat Belt Buckles
As summer reaches its dog days, entering your car can be a hazardous activity. From the sweat inducing temperatures lurking just inside the doors, to the skin searing steering wheel, and worst of all, the metal seat belt buckles that one can only assume are near the temperatures of the sun itself, it is as though you are taking your life into your own hands by entering this sweltering box of doom. It’s recommended to take extra precautions on entering your vehicle to avoid a trip to the hospital. One can open the door and wait a moment before entering the car, a furry cover can be placed over the steering wheel to avoid losing your finger prints, and a towel/extra shirt can be used to buckle oneself safely.
#3 Showers and Baths
It is a well-known fact that the bathroom is the most dangerous room in any house. There are a myriad of ways in which a person can hurt themselves such as: slipping and falling, cutting themselves with a razor, and worst of all, taking a shower or bath with water so hot that sears the skin. Establishing the perfect water temperature for daily hygiene routines is a tricky task. There are several factors to take into consideration. The most prime example is the intensity to which heat or cold is set when turning on the faucet. If you find yourself in a scalding bath or shower, the best course of action is to exit the environment, adjust the water, and try again. This time perhaps by placing your hand under the running water before fully submerging your body.
Don’t even get me started on the kitchen. This room is riddled with peril. Everywhere you turn, an appliance or accessory is waiting to scorch your skin. There’s the toaster, stove top, pizza stone, double boiler...what isn’t out to get you? It’s amazing that anyone can get through a meal prep in one piece. Thankfully with a little bit of self-awareness a person can navigate through the process of cooking without burning themselves. But, if you happen to get taken by surprise, remember to let go of or move away from whatever is causing you pain.
#5 Being Outside
During the summer months, many of us have to heed caution when spending time outdoors, otherwise a person may fall victim to the infamous sunburn. On top of that, the very ground you walk on becomes a real life rendition of the game “The Floor is Lava.” Leading to the conclusion that neither indoor nor outdoor adventures are safe and everyone should be living inside plastic bubbles. Except plastic when heated gives off the dangerous bisphenol A or BPA. What can you do? Fortunately there are simple solutions like covering your body with clothes, standing in the shade for a while, or wearing sunscreen. To keep your feet safe, shoes are strongly recommended.
If you or someone you love has been harmed by any of the atrocities listed above it would hardly be worthy of a medical journal. Just as with any activity, it is important to be aware of your body in relation to harm. In many articles about vaginal steaming, the legitimacy of the practice is often questioned with statements reporting the lack of research on the subject. Just earlier this year the Institute of Peristeam Hydrotherapy commissioned a foundational study to explore the viability of vaginal steaming on postpartum recovery. The Fourth Trimester Vaginal Steam Study compared the healing journeys of women for the first 6 weeks after giving birth. Some of the participants were instructed to steam while the rest were not. The steaming group reported less pain and faster healing than those in the non-steaming group showing that steaming potentially has benefits that, as of now, are unknown to the medical community.
Although some Western medical practitioners shame the art of steaming, there are several common gynecological practices that intentionally involve burning. These include, but are not limited to: endometrial ablation (burning the uterine lining to reduce cramping and the flow of a heavy period), loop electrosurgical excision procedure ([LEEP] where a heated electrical wire is used to burn away cells on the cervix and vagina that may be pre-cancerous), and tubal ligation (also known as “tying the tubes” where a hot rod burns the fallopian tubes together to create scar tissue and prevent fertilization).
While on the one hand condemning vaginal steaming many medical doctors simultaneously admit that they are ignorant to the practice. Meaning, they are dolling out advice without having any evidence on the subject to base it on. Life is filled with many ways in which to harm yourself, but fortunately through the use of common sense and a smidge of self-awareness, it is fairly easy to stay out of harm's way. Steaming when practiced correctly can be beneficial to your body. As it continues to increase in popularity, more people will try steaming in the comfort of their own home. In order to utilize this healing modality properly, it is highly encouraged that you meet with a trained professional to learn how to safely practice steaming. Stay safe out there friends.
About the Author:
Devin Grindrod is a certified Vaginal Steam Facilitator and is enrolled in the Peristeam Hydrotherapy program at the Institute of Peristeam Hydrotherapist. She is also a Trauma-Informed Yoga Instructor, Reiki Master, and Medium. Devin is a strong advocate for empowerment and whole person healing. She lives in Austin, TX with her husband and their two cats. You can reach her through her website at spirituallybalanced.com or on Instagram and Facebook: @spirituallybalanced