To kick-off the a recent episode of Jada Pickett-Smith's Red Table Talk, she announced, "We are going to steam our vaginas. Yes, we're gonna steam our vaginas on camera."
🙌🏾 🙌🏼 🙌🏿 🙌🏻 Jada, Willow, and Gammy all enjoy a yoni steam together and the practice leads them into a beautiful discussion around releasing taboo and connecting to their yoni through gentleness, pleasure, and reverence.
Their use of plastic steam bowls aside (please ya'll, steam safely, avoid plastic, and use a safe yoni steam pot for vaginal steaming), the episode is spot on. The Red Table Talk reveals how meaningful even a single yoni steam can be to a woman. After all, it might be the very first invitation into a true dialogue between you and her, and that's an epic gift.
Within 24hrs, the show had received 6M views and thousands of comments. Women from all over the world posted about their love of steaming and the many benefits of vaginal steaming. I was overjoyed to read the celebrations!
Then came the critics... so very predictable in their dismissal of women's stories and lived experience. It's a wonder to me that the Patriarchy doesn't simply bore itself to death.
However, as the tedium of discrediting our ancestral practices and the validity of our womb wisdom continues, I wanted to take the opportunity to address some of the most common misperceptions, myths, and mis-truths about vaginal steaming.
Myth 1: Yoni steaming is unsafe because you can get burned.
Whilst you can of course get burned from sitting over heated water, it is not the practice of vaginal steaming that is unsafe. Women can get burned cooking pasta, making a cup of tea, blow drying their hair. They are unlikely to get burned doing those things because they take care to learn how do those things safely and to trust their instincts.
Vaginal steaming can cause burns but only when a woman is overriding her instinct to stand up. Overriding our instincts, let along our pleasure, is something we are tough by our culture. So it is living in a female body in patriarchy that is unsafe, not vaginal steaming.
Myth 2: Yoni Steaming Causes Infections.
When you get a facial and the aesthetician uses steam to remove gunk from your pores, do we assume that the gunk was caused by the steam? Nope! That's because, of course, the steam didn't create the debris, it simply helped to release it.
Similarly, vaginal steaming does not cause infections but rather supports the release of the infection from the body. This is why it is very important to understand what to expect when vaginal steaming for yeast infections and BV.
Here's what I tell my clients:
Firstly, when vaginal steaming for yeast infections and BV, please use the 10 minute mild yoni steam set-up. The body is already heating up to kill off the infection. Your vaginal steam may help to release the infection but we don't want to overly heat the body. That is why shorter yoni steams with lower heat are advised.
What to expect: This is kind of cool, but can be gross, because a lot might come out! You may even see things that you haven’t yet seen before. This is so great though, because it is coming out!
*Just remember, steam doesn’t cause an infection or create mucus. The steam loosens the mucus so that it and the infection can be released from the body.
Tips: You can wear an organic panty liner to catch the discharge or change your underwear more frequently.
As you pull the infection down and out, it can create discomfort and maybe some itchiness and inflammation too. I recommend using a peri-bottle to keep the vulva and vaginal opening clean. Fill the bottle with water and a little sea salt and spray yourself clean after going to the bathroom. This way the discharge isn’t sitting on the skin causing further irritation. Furthermore, you may want to shower more frequently, twice a day to get mucus off the skin.
Myth 3: Vaginal Steaming is unnecessary because the uterus is self-cleansing. This is like saying the skin is self cleansing, so don't bother exfoliating. Or how about the lungs are self-cleansing so never mind about deep breathing, it's not necessary. Or the colon is self cleansing so if you've been backed up for days, no need to do anything about it, right? Wrong.
The truth is that all of our organs are self cleansing. When it comes to less controversial organs than the uterus, our dominant culture seems a-okay with things like detox tea for the liver, breathwork for the lungs, salt scrubs for the skin, and all sorts of other support for organ health. Yet when women have debilitating signs of stagnation, including painful periods, fibroids, yeast and other infections, we give them this bull about how they shouldn't do anything because the uterus is already "self-cleansing." Instead they are handed a bunch of pills which may or may not address the symptoms but are absolutely ill equipped to offer true healing.
So yes, of course, the uterus has a brilliant built in cleansing mechanism in place: menstruation. Sometimes, if not often, that natural cleanse could use some support and that's when steaming may be incredibly beneficial. Yoni steaming may work to support the complete cleanse and clear the stagnation which is the root cause of so many menstrual ailments.
Myth 4 : Yoni Steaming harms the pH balance of the vagina.
Actually, vaginal steaming may help to restore the natural pH balance of the vagina. Unlike the harsh and often toxic "cleaning" products found in drug stores and even once recommended by OB-GYN's, vaginal steaming is all natural. The water and organic yoni steam herbs support a full uterine cleanse and gently allows the body to rebalance.
For more about the difference between a patriarchal view of "cleaning" the vagina as opposed to a feminist view of supporting a natural uterine cleanse, please check out: Your Vagina is NOT Dirty.
Myth 5: OB-GYN's do not approve of vaginal steaming.
Though some OB-GYN's have apparently decided to make a name for themselves by dismissing, shaming, or fear mongering about vaginal steaming, few know anything about it. Even Dr. Jen Gunter who goes on and on about the apparent dangers has never tried vaginal steaming nor has she ever studied the practice or used it with patients.
However, doctors like Laurena White, MD, of The Eudaimonia Center in Maryland who have first hand experience with the practice of vaginal steaming know differently. Dr White is herself a vaginal steam practitioner, she has a personal connection to her yoni steam practice, and she works closely with her patients to advise them on how to yoni steam safely and most beneficially. She and her clients report wonderful and sometimes even life changing results.
Let's remember: Our current medical system is rooted in greed, fear, misogyny, and racism. It a power over model whereas vaginal steaming is a model of tapping into the power within. Trust yourself, your instincts, your call away from vaginal steaming or towards it. After all, it is your body and it's building the relationship with her that is the deepest source of healing.
For more about the history of Western Gynecology and why origin stories need to be understood, please check out Kitara's post in support of BLM.
Gratitude: Thank you Keli Garza of SteamyChick.com for your courses and wisdom which are foundational to the information shared in this post.