A spa in California is offering vaginal steam baths, in which spa-goers squat or sit on open stools over a tub of hot steam, as a cure-all for menstrual, digestion, and mood disorders:
The V-Steam: Inspired by an ancient ritual practiced for many years in Korea. The steam from the herbal tea rises and absorbs into your skin & orifice. This steaming treatment stimulates the production of hormones to maintain uterine health, aids regular menstrual cycles, helps correct digestive disorders while soothing the nervous system. The natural antibiotic and anti-fungal properties are said to help maintain internal health as well as keeping your skin looking young. (30 min: $50. Series of 6: $180.)
It’s a douche, folks. A $50 douche made with mugwort and 13 other herbs and having a fancy Korean name: Chai-Yok. True, the water gets up there as steam, and if you don’t squat just right over the steam bath, I imagine it may not get up there at all. But in the end, it’s a douche.
We docs strongly advise against douching since we know that women who do it have higher rates of vaginal and pelvic infections. Not to mention that the vaginal mucosa is highly-absorptive surface, meaning anything you put in there is likely to end up in the rest of your body. And so I ask: What herbs are they using, at what doses, and what side effects might they have? Not to mention what might be growing in those wooden tubs they have you squatting over?
Fertility Aid? Right, Prove It
The Koreans aren’t the only ones who use vaginal steam baths. In South American cultures it is called Bajos, and it’s being promoted all over the Web as a “rainforest” fertility aid, using every possible herbal combination under the sun.
No surprise, then, that the owner of the California spa credits Chai-Yok for her pregnancy achieved at age 45 after “trying for three years.” I notice she does not say how she “tried” to get pregnant, which makes me wonder if she is leaving out some little detail that may have led to her reproductive success, something like — oh, I don’t know — maybe fertility treatments? Not to mention she may just have a little itsy-bitsy conflict of interest in making her claim, since she’s the one selling the V-Steam? This, however, has not stopped websites from using headlines like “Vaginal Steam Baths Could Cure Infertility and Bad Periods.” Dumb.
The thing that upsets me is that the owner of this spa is an orthopedic surgeon. I can forgive his Korean wife for buying into unsubstantiated folklore medicine, but what’s his excuse? He and his wife can V-Steam all they want in the privacy of their home, but where does he get off offering unproven — and potentially harmful — treatments for infertility and menstrual disorders? Shameful.
I’d avoid the vaginal steam spa if I were you — especially if you are prone to yeast infections, since yeast love a warm moist environment.
*This blog post was originally published at tbtam*