As women, we do a lot to keep our nether regions in shape: monthly waxes, birth control, and yearly checkups—and that’s just for starters. Recently, Gwyneth Paltrow recommended another to-do for your hoo-ha maintenance checklist: the V-steam.
On her lifestyle site, GOOP, Gwyneth writes that steaming your V is when you “sit on what is essentially a mini-throne, and a combination of infrared and mugwort steam cleanses your uterus, et al. It is an energetic release not just a steam douche that balances female hormone levels.”
Interesting, right? Since gynecologists generally frown upon any kind of douching, we wanted to see if that the same held true for the GOOP-approved procedure. The short answer: “It’s complete bull,” says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of ob-gyn at Yale School of Medicine. Minkin says that the alleged benefits of getting your vagina steamed are totally bogus and that undergoing a treatment like this could even harm your lady bits. Here’s why:
1. It Burns
“My first concern is that someone would burn themselves because steam is hot,” says Minkin. “And I certainly wouldn’t want someone to get a burn in their vagina.” Fun fact: Your hoo-ha sits right next to the bladder and rectum, so a bad burn could damage the lining between the two of them and cause a lot of issues. “That would be a worst-case scenario,” says Minkin.
2. It Can Mess With Your Vagina’s Good Bacteria
Just like regular douching, trying to “cleanse” your vag with steam can be drying and disrupt the natural bacteria that lives up in there, says Minkin. And since the vagina is a self-cleaning machine, you don’t need to take any action to keep it that way, she says. However, one thing you could do to boost your vagina’s natural cleaning abilities is to eat more yogurt, which contains the good bacteria that keep your vag fresh yeast infection-free.
Minkin also questions the steam’s effectiveness as a uterus cleanser since it’s hard to say whether the steam could actually reach that far. She says that even if it could, there are very few bacteria in the lining of the uterus and that those bacteria absolutely do not need to be cleaned out.
3. It Won’t Balance Any Hormones
First off, Minkin says, there are no hormones produced by the uterus or the vagina. “The hormone factory is in the ovaries, and there’s no reason why steam would affect the hormones produced there,” she says. And again, it’s hard to say if the steam even makes it that far.