Vaginal Steaming: A Forgotten Practice That's Been Used For Centuries

Vaginal Steaming: A Forgotten Practice That's Been Used For Centuries

Have you ever come across the concept of vaginal steaming? It’s possible that you’ve encountered mentions of it on social media but aren’t entirely sure about its origins or the reasons behind the practice. Vaginal steaming, also referred to as “yoni steaming”  is an ancient tradition that has been passed down through generations, spanning hundreds of years. Various cultures around the world have integrated vaginal steaming into their customs as a ritual for cleansing and healing. Historically, it was used to aid the recovery of the vaginal and perineal areas after childbirth, with elders of the community carefully selecting medicinal herbs for the steam or bath. In modern times, the practice of vaginal steaming is experiencing a resurgence in popularity, and the herbs employed continue to offer a range of benefits to women at different stages in their life. 

We spoke all about this ancient practice with  Nikki Bostwick, the  Founder and Editor in Chief of THE FULLEST, a holistic wellness platform and saffron-based product line. As the creator of the Womb Protector™ pelvic steaming herb blend, Nikki is incredibly passionate about sharing time-tested ancient healing practices and herbs that support root cause healing. Her mission at The Fullest is to support women in utilizing a combination of ancient and modern wellness  practices to help connect back with their bodies to experience long term, sustainable healing. 

Here we touched on what exactly vaginal steaming is and some of the conditions this ancient ritual may aid, especially pertaining to postpartum. Nikki also shares some other amazing tips on how we can all take the best care of our vaginal health to support our wider body health.  

What exactly is vaginal steaming?

Vaginal Steaming is a restorative, safe, and comfortable ritual that can connect, balance, and heal the feminine cycles. The practice itself involves allowing herbal infused steam to gently nourish and tonify the womb and walls of the vagina.

What are the origins of this practice? Give us some history behind it as I know you guys at THE FULLEST are all about ancient rituals! 

Pelvic steaming is a long-forgotten practice that has been used for centuries across many cultures. Most cultures use it as a practice postpartum. During the postpartum period, pelvic steaming is thought to help to heal tender tissues that may have been stretched or torn during labor. 

Steaming consecutively over the first week* after giving birth may help speed up recovery and support the mother in reconnecting with her body. 

*Do check with your health specialist for advice on when to start - recommendations often suggest it should be after the mother has stopped bleeding.

Why is it so important to take care of the health of our vagina in relation to our full body health? 

As women, our womb is connected to our immune system, endocrine system, lymphatic system and so much more — every organ in our body serves a purpose and an optimal functioning uterus is an indicator of a healthy functioning body.

What type of health issues can vaginal steaming help with and is there science to back this up? 

Unfortunately there has not been a lot of research backing up a traditional practice like vaginal steaming but more studies are starting to pop up, as well as doctors prescribing a steaming practice to women interested in optimizing their cycles and supporting their fertility. There are countless testimonials and anecdotal evidence that suggests vaginal steaming helps:

They’ve even found that just one steaming session every 28 days can improve emotional and mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, and fatigue. 

How can it help with postpartum healing in particular? Nikki I know this is something you said you personally have used this for.

I started my vaginal steaming practice because I incorporated it during my postpartum healing journey with both my children. It was so supportive in healing tender tissues that tore during labor with both my kids. I steamed consecutively over the first week after giving birth and I believe it sped up recovery, supporting my uterus in going back to its original size, while also helping the rest of my organs go back into place. It also supported me with hemorrhoids and overall just helped me reconnect with my body.

In your Womb Protector™ pelvic steaming herb blend you use a combination of herbs. Can you give us some background behind this herbal blend and why these herbs specifically are so healing?

When we formulated this blend we wanted it to be gentle but powerful and healing so you could use it across the board for gentle monthly support, fertility, conception, postpartum, and healing from infections.

We use Saffron to reduce inflammation, Pau d’arco to help fight infection, Lavender to soothe, Raspberry leaf as an overall supportive herb for women, and many more herbs that help balance out the blend and gently cleanse and tone the uterus. 

Because of these antimicrobial properties, is there any chance of throwing off our own pH? 

The idea of steaming is still so gentle that I don't subscribe to the notion that it can potentially throw off your pH. Just like how drinking tea doesn't harm your digestive system and make it too alkaline — the same concept applies when you are essentially making a gentle tea for your vagina and using the steam and healing properties from the herbs to support your health overall. What I love about this practice is that it is so gentle yet effective enough to help the body do the work it needs to heal itself. A good article to read is our  Saffron for UTIs & Yeast Infections.

Are there any other safety precautions we should be aware of as a first time vaginal steamer?

Yes! We list them on our FAQ page but at a high level:

  • No steaming while pregnant or actively menstruating
  • No steaming if your cycle is less than 19 days.

How often should we be steaming?

It depends on what you are working on, but a good rule of thumb is:

  • 2 days right before the start of your period, and 2 days after your period. If you're in your postpartum period you can steam starting a few days after the baby is born and consecutively steam for 5-10 days.
  • If you're dealing with UTIs or other infections, it’s nice to steam for just 10 minutes a day until symptoms subside.
  • If you're preparing for pregnancy, you can also steam for one to two weeks consecutively to prepare the body prior to conception. 

Do you have any other advice on how to care for our vaginal health?

Yes! Wear organic cotton underwear. Don't stay in your leggings too long after a workout and hopefully you are wearing workout leggings that are not made from synthetic fibers. Our lady parts are meant to breathe! I also love using Living Libations’ line of yoni serums for beautiful smelling oils that feel so nice to add to your daily or weekly routine.

For 15% off THE FULLEST, use code Agent15 at checkout.

Tune into Nikki’s  podcast episode with Jena Covello here!