Over the years in our classes, during steam lodges, and in individual sessions I have been asked many of the same quesions. Here are are the FAQs I come across the most...
Can I use vaginal steams if I've had a hysterectomy?
Yes. You can absolutely steam after you've had a partial or full hysterectomy. Steaming helps both the internal and external structures of the body. In fact, with the decrease in hormones after a hysterectomy, many women experience tissue dryness and uncomfortability, steaming can help with that. Internally, your body can benefit from the movement of stagnant energy, blood, and lymph in the area. Additionally, incorporating steaming can help you to feel more in touch with your body and empowered.
Can I use steams after I've entered into menopause?
Yes, in fact many of the issues that arise during and after menopause are benefited by the practice of steaming. The decrease and loss of estrogen can play havoc on a women's body from vaginal dryness and irritation to decreased sex drive, and steaming is a wonderful ally in many of these situations. The steam itself is actually helping to address moisture levels, but the herbs that you use can have a wonderful therapeutic effect on the body, as well.
Can men use them too?
Yes. Men can benefit from steaming too. I just wouldn't refer to it as a vaginal steam, maybe try the term pevlic steam instead. Steaming can be good for the prostate, for hemorrhoids, and for promoting the flow of flesh nutrient-rich blood (good for "cold" pelvic conditions, fertility, constipation, a general lack of movement in the region). I recommend using many of the same herbs that are suggested for women, but with some slight modifications depending on the need. Having a good men's herbal is always a valuable resource when blending for men. Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Healing for Men is an excellent option.
I am pregnant, can I still steam?
In general, I say no, I was taught that it was contraindicated. The risks out weigh the benefits. Essentially, you are sitting directly above steam which is focused on the baby's home. Babies in utero have no method of cooling themeselves down, and even if it is a long shot that the steam is warming them to that point, why risk it. In addition to warming up the entire pelvic area, another purpose of steaming is to allow herbs to have a therapeutic effect on the body. Pregnancy in general without complications or special situations puts you in a unique catagory when it comes to herb usage, and when there are other options at your disposal that allow you to receive the benefits of the herbs that present little to no risk, I feel its better to err on the side of caution.
Can steaming be used to bring on labor?
I do know that there are cultures that use steaming as a method to bring on labor. I would not however suggest this as a "try this at home method" and really should only be practiced under the supervision and care of health professionals (midwives, herbalists, OB/GYNs, etc...) who are familiar with using steams for labor induction and the appropriate herbs.
I have an IUD, even though they are contraindicated, can I still steam?
This is a great and challenging question, and one that I always endeavor to share the most thoughtful and reasoned answer. When this practice was first shared with me and through my own research, I have heard a resounding NO when it comes to steaming with and IUD and for two reasons. 1. For a long time IUDs have been made of copper (a super-conductor- which heats up quickly & holds heat), and since IUDs can't be quickly removed this presents a problem. 2. IUDs work as a contriceptive by agitating the inner state of the uterus and do not allow for implantation. Since steaming is also working on the inner state of the pelvic region the two can be in opposition. Now all that being said, I know that the material that IUDs are being made out of is changing and the remote risk of experiencing an internal burn is not the same. I often tell women, educate yourself with the risks and benefits and then make the most informed decision for your own body.
Can steaming be used to treat hemorrhoids?
Yes. Steaming is excellent to use to address hemorrhoids. The herbal infused steam is delivered right to the target area in a gentle, effective way. Think astringent (for toning and tightening tissues) and styptic (for staving off the pooling of blood) herbs.
Is it like a douche?
No, vaginal steaming is not like douching. Typically, douching is done to wash or irrigate the vagina, among the many reasons women douche a main one is to eliminate odors and feel fresher. Research has shown that douching can actually have an adverse effect on the body, such as increase risk of cervical cancer, and pelvic inflammatory disease.
I've read that the vagina is "self-cleaning", so why would I do this?
Vaginal steaming has nothing to do with cleaning your vagina. It is a therapeutic way to administer the herbs to your body. I always use the comparison to facial steams, the way it opens pores, adds moisture and in general leaves your skin feeling fresher and looking more vital. Steaming your yoni is the same, it helps to promote vitality in your tissues and surrounding sturctures (and feels amazing).
How often can I steam?
This really depends on your purpose for steaming. If you are steaming for a remedial purpose (like healing postpartum), the answer is different then say steaming to honor and prepare for some intimate time with a partner. So, when steaming for general use you may only steam once to a few times a month, and in other more specific or remedial situtions you may be steaming every other day. I will say though that you don't need to be steaming everyday. It is important to let our body which includes our natural vaginal flora to fuction on its own without constent change. Use steaming as an aide.
I have an active STD, can I still steam?
Yes and no, steaming with an active STD is ok, as long as it is not fungal in nature, there are no current blisters, or involves genital lice. If any of these are present, it is best to wait until after the active portion or lice has been removed. If none of these situations are present then steaming during is fine. Also, I will mention that steaming after an STD can be very beneficial to the body to help heal tissue, and reduce inflammation.
Can my teenage daughter steam?
Absolutely! I stand behind empowering and teaching our young women how to honor and care for their bodies at an early age. In my experience, it is far easier to teach steaming as a beneficial self-care modality to a young person. The health benefits are numerous and address things like painful moon cycles, honoring your body as a ritual, fertility, etc... By empowering them with the tools to address common concerns they can feel more in touch and in control of their bodies and their ability to help themselves.
Please feel free to email me any additional questions you may have. I am always interested in helping people better understand and navigate the world of steaming.