On today’s episode of ask the experts we pit the gynecologic advice of Gwyneth Paltrow, a consciously uncoupled actress and self-professed lifestyle expert who dabbles in vaginal health, against that of yours truly, a board certified OB/GYN who has completed a 5 year OB/GYN residency and a fellowship in infectious diseases and is an expert in vulvovaginal disorders.
Ms. Paltrow, recommends a V-steam. Her words: “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. If you’re in LA, you have to do it.”
My response: Don’t.
The vagina (and uterus and vulva for that matter) should be viewed as self-cleaning ovens. We know that douching is harmful, heck, even seminal fluid can be harmful (exposure to multiple partners without condoms is a major risk factor for imbalance of the vaginal ecosystem). The upper and lower reproductive tracts have very intricate mechanisms for regulating local health and they are very easy to mess with. It’s a delicate garden, if you will. So one needs to be thoughtful, nay conscious about what one uses in said garden.
We don’t know the effect of steam on the lower reproductive tract, but the lactobacilli strains that keep vaginas healthy are very finicky about their environment and raising the temperature with steam and whatever infrared nonsense Paltrow means is likely not beneficial and is potentially harmful. Some strains of lactobacilli are so hard to cultivate outside of this the very specific vaginal environment that growing them in a lab is next to impossible. There is also the possibility that the “steam” from these plants could contain volatile substances that are harmful to lactobacilli or other aspects of the vaginal ecosystem.
Ms. Paltrow and the people who push V-steams also need a little anatomy lesson because unless that steam is under high pressure (like with ejaculation) it’s not getting from the vagina into the uterus. Air (whether hot of cold) does not magically wander from the vagina into the uterus. Heck, even water in the vagina doesn’t get sucked up by the uterus.
But what about the claim that the vagina has a lot of mucosa (true) and can absorb medications (also true)? Vaginal absorption of medications requires the right medication and dose and the right delivery vehicle. Steam does not meet this criteria. Aerosolizing a medication is effective for lungs, but the vulva, vagina, and uterus are all quite deficient when it comes to inhalation and gas exchange mechanisms with the blood stream.
I’m not sure what our gal GP thinks balancing hormones actually is (because it means nothing medical), but I am confident when I say that steaming your vagina with wormwood or mugwort will not do anything to hormones because these plants are not hormones. OK, sure, they are not estrogen or progesterone, but what if they are phytoestrogens?
While I can’t find any reliable literature that proves mugwort or wormwood are phytoestrogens or have similar properties let’s say for the sake of argument that these two plants are phytoestrogens. What does that mean? Phytoestrogens are plant-derived substances with estrogenic biologic activity (such as the isoflavones genistein and daidzein, which are found in high amounts in soy and red clover). However, studies haven’t shown that these proven phytoestrogens do much for menopausal American women in the way of treating hot flashes. This probably means that phytoestrogens might act like an estrogen in the lab on tissues, but aren’t very good at acting like estrogen in the body (or that the studies aren’t very good). However, there is one important sticking point about phytoestrogens and a potential vaginal route – phytoestrogens need to be digested to become more estrogenically active. Besides, acting like a hormone isn’t the same as being one. If a phytoestrogen does happen to makes you feel better in a womanly way it isn’t because it has mysteriously balanced your hypothalamus or pituitary (brain areas that are the command centers for hormones), but rather because of a peripheral effect. Think Band-Aid not a treatment. Or placebo (studies with phytoestrogens report up to a 59% placebo response rate).
So here’s the deal…
Steam is probably not good for your vagina. Herbal steam is no better and quite possibly worse. It is most definitely more expensive.
Steam isn’t going to get into your uterus from your vagina unless you are using an attachment with some kind of pressure and MOST DEFINITELY NEVER EVER DO THAT.
Mugwort or wormwood or whatever when steamed, either vaginally or on the vulva, can’t possibly balance any reproductive hormones, regulate your menstrual cycle, treat depression, or cure infertility Even steamed estrogen couldn’t do that.
If you want to feel relaxed get a good massage.
If you want to relax your vagina, have an orgasm.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll tackle sex bark…
Late entry (7 pm PST) A a good friend who is an Allergist (and therefore someone who is likely to know) pointed out mugwort steam does at least sound better than ragweed stream (the allergenic plant to which it is closely related). Mugwort pollen is of course also allergenic. Needless to say the vagina (or vulva for that matter) is a less than ideal place for an allergic reaction. The vagina, like the inside of the nose, is mucosa and so there is no reason not to expect a similar reaction.
Thank you so much for putting this together! Really appreciate it.
Reblogged this on Ex Natural Childbirth Advocates.
I think it’s crazy that people think this would be a good idea. The simple idea of it seems way too painful to be helpful to me. I think it’s always smart to get advice from your doctors before doing anything like this. Even if something is supposed to help you, you have no idea what kind of damage could be caused if you don’t talk to the right people about it. I hope people realize that when they hear about things like this.
I made some spaghetti the other day and when I was draining it the steam hit my hand. It hurt. No way in hell do I want any kind of steam anywhere near any part of my body with a lot of nerve endings.
Reblogged this on Illuminutti and commented:
All aboard the woo-woo train!! 🙂
Personally, I prefer my vaginas hickory smoked.
So that’s why my girlfriend ordered a handheld shower wand! Now it makes sense why she spends hours in there!
Laura Hopper Beck from FastCompany isn’t a doctor but shares her experience:
“It’s hard to say whether my V-steam was worth $50. If you’re Gwyneth Paltrow and $50 is what you use to wipe your butt (true story?), then yes. If you’re a human being who lives on this Earth, probably not. You can take a hot bath, sit in a sauna, or microwave a glass of lemon water and just squat over it for 10 minutes for very similar results.”
Reblogged this on Pharmacy, Informatics, IT, stuff and commented:
It’s sad that when a doctor makes a medical statement everyone has a critical eye. When an actor makes a medical statement everyone hops on the bus. Maybe that’s why Dr. Oz got into television?
Why is there this attempt to separate “holistic”, “hormone”, and “organic” from medicine? Hormones, roots, warts, food, water, and air are chemicals. Chemicals interact. Knowing how chemicals interact is what chemist do. Knowing how chemicals in a specific set of conditions, the human body, is what doctors do.
Do you know what they call “natural’, “holistic”, and “organic” substances that work? Medicine.
If you’ve never been to medical school don’t speak of it. I’m in a pharmacy school that also has a PA program. Trust me. Pharmacist and PA’s know more about medicinal chemistry and history then you’ll ever find on Google or webMD.
You don’t get a medical degree (I’m biased pharmacy is medicine) because you play candy crush for 2-4 years of graduate school.
Congratulations on your new career. I as well am a student of medicine as you define it. I’m sorry if my choice of words offended you. I absolutely agree with you though that “natural’, “holistic”, and “organic” can mean medicine. Back to my studies, best of luck to you.
I have several problems with the OBs response. The OB clearly doesn’t understand how medicinal plants work. Steams are in no way the same as a douche.
She is correct that the vagina does need to maintain a good bacterial balance, and that certain herbs would kill off beneficial bacteria, but these herbs would be considered ‘heavy hitters’ and would only be used when that effect is warranted eg chronic yeast infections. Anyone using herbs should absolutely be mindful of when these herbs would be appropriate.
Also, with anything medicinal, it should be treated with respect and if there is no reason to do it, it should not be done. On the other hand, most women in our society DO have some sort of female issue in that we have problem with our menstruation, pain, fibroids, cysts, lochia flow ect and steaming can be extremely beneficial here.
The steam dose not get pushed in to the uterus but vaginal tissue is mucus membrane and highly absorbent of the medicinal herbs carefully chosen for that specific women and any issue she may be having. Contrary to allopathic medicine outdated belief that we don’t absorb things through the skin – we do. And we absorb it much faster through mucus membrane- in this case the vagina. When we are steaming we are getting the medicinal herbs much closer to where we want them, and the heat of the steam is encouraging circulation in the area and bringing the herbs to all the female organs.
Though she may be correct in saying that the treatment doesn’t ‘balance hormones’ as Gwyneth suggested, herbs DO work in a holistic manor and never just do one specific thing only. This is where trying to fit the properties of a herb in to a western medicalized view simply doesn’t work. Sure you can chemically extract the one component of a plant and say it does one thing- but this is NOT how whole herbs work. They have many synergistic properties. The phytoestrogen argument is irrelevant here as it is not the purpose of the treatment AND it is not the only way plants can help is balance our hormones. Naturally balancing your hormones is a lifestyle thing more than any one thing in particular, because that is how holistic medicine differed from allopathic-it looks at the whole picture, the whole lifestyle, the whole plant and the whole treatment rather than just the one property of a herb and the heat.
Now that we can see the science to back up the fact that these steams do have benefits, lets also be sure to recognize that many cultures around the world have been doing this for thousands of years with great success. That is a lot of evidence in favor of the steam!
You have provided zero science. Really.
How exactly do herbs work in a holistic manner? You have explained nothing.
Dr Jen, some people just really don’t care about the science, which is scary. You have explained everything very articulately, and obviously care that you know what you are saying.
As a pharmacist I love when I am counseling a patient on an OTC med, and someone in the peanut gallery pipes up about some off the wall approach they used to fix said ailment. Then the actual look of confusion on the asking patients face of whether to follow my recommendation, or this random stranger waiting on their rx. I never just push medication, so I just leave it at the make your own decision.
I love when someone is “scared” of an actual pharmaceutical that is studied and tested and standardized, but then lets slip they take 12 herbs/vitamins a day… Natural does not mean safe…
I have had to walk out of Heath food stores or GNC on hearing a “clerk” behind the register giving medical advice that is SO wrong to the unknowing customer.
I guess as trained health care professionals we are trained to base on the science. If people are afraid of a life saving medication from my pharmacy because it is synthetic, and they feel more comfortable taking “natural” herbs by the handfuls, not much I can do 😉
Thanks for doing what you do in this sue happy world!!
Oh and plants, like any medicine all work in the same way, on receptors and altering physiology. There is no “holistic” mechanism of action.
Most people would disagree with you that I have explained ‘nothing’, but I will explain further what I mean by holistic if you are not familiar with the term.
By ‘holistic’ I mean what the word means. And Yes I do understand chemistry. Plants and herbs can be broken down in to various chemical, of course. No one is denying this. BUT when we do this, the plant does not work as a ‘whole’ or in a ‘holistic’ manor. When a plant is broken down into separate substances and then used, we have increased the chances of side effects. We try to isolate certain constituents from plants through various methods of isolation and when we use them, we are not using the plant in what I would consider a ‘holistic’ way. Plants are pretty amazing, for instance when you look at adaptogens, they work on the body in a variety of different ways and effect various body systems. I consider this ‘holistic. You can choose to ignore the word if it bothers you, but the facts still hold up.
BTW I ❤ Science… & Natural medicine… Believe it or not, natural medicine can be backed by science. And Jen, its is so true, natural does not always mean safe. I believe its so important for people to educate themselves and take there health into their own health and responsibility and not just blindly put their faith in another be it a Doctor OR a Herbalist. Allopathic medicine has its place, and has saved many lives, we are so fortunate for medical advancements. Herbal medicine also has its place, and has been tried and true for thousands of years, and even scientifically studied.
There is no such thing as natural medicine or allopathic medicine, there is evidence based medicine and that’s it. If a therapy works it shouldn’t be a burden to prove.
A plant can’t treat a whole person so it cannot be holistic as this is the definition: characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the physical symptoms of a disease.
There is a paucity of evidence for the majority of herbal medications that are recommended. For example I recently reviewed every published paper on “natural” therapies for painful periods and the studies are all of poor quality.
It is simply not acceptable to say something has been used for years so it is tried and true. We bled people to get rid of evil humors for years. In addition, those who practiced healing thousands of years ago (and even 100 years ago) were operating without full knowledge of how the human body works. So you can’t really test something or understand how to use it if you don’t even know what it does or fully understand the disease process. Unless you are dealing in humors and not physiology.
Ah yes. Evidence based medicine. Well there are actually lots of quality studies on herbs. Check em out sometime. And the DO work holistically, they work on the body and the mind. Thats about as holistic as your going to get. Also I believe anecdotal evidence shouldn’t be brushed aside in the case where it is a Huge as this – meaning people have been doing these steams for thousands of years.
The quality of studies for “herbal” remedies in GYN is universally poor.
Working on “the mind” is an imprecise term and means little. Possibly you mean central nervous system changes in norepinephrine or serotonin or dopamine or other neurotransmitters. Many substances, including plants, pharmaceuticals and placebo, can have these effects. But we can look at say fish oil and study it in a lab and see that it reduces prostaglandins so this could biologically impact pain or heart disease and then we study it. If ingesting a plant makes you feel better it is because it has caused chemical changes. There are no chemicals changes that steaming Mugwort etc can possibly do on vulvar skin or vaginal mucosa that can impact hormones or depression or anything.
There are lots of studies showing that inhalation of herbal aromas effect the central nervous system. Check them out sometime, it might be wise to educate yourself about these things as more and more people are wanting to use traditional remedies to take charge of their health. Because of this demand the studies coming out are of consistently better quality. When we steam the skin don’t forget that the plant aromas are also inhaled.
Then one wouldn’t need to site on a throne and expose one’s vulva and vagina if the effects were inhalational. So, that would seem to support my conclusion that a vaginal steam is useless
Clearly I mean you get the benefit of both the inhalation and the vaginal steam.
Wow. I’ve just read two of your excellent posts and most of the (mostly ridiculous) comments.
You somehow seem to have managed to attract every whacko nut-job out there. Shamans, homeopaths, herbalists, holistic whatevers, miscellaneous quacks, utter blithering idiots, the totally misguided and all the rest of them.
I can walk around for days with igneous rocks in my vagina! That couldn’t possibly cause any damage, could it? I can steam the hell out of my vulva! I love the herbal smells! Never mind that that’s got nothing to do with my uterus, unless I’m using a very finely tuned fire hose. What could possibly go wrong?
Though I’m a male and not an MD, I’d have used the same arguments against the idiocy based on just basic science and common sense. Rocks and steam are nonsense and gibberish as regards hormones, etc., not to mention the potential harms. End of story.
Not sure why you would express any dissatisfaction with Trump, he expresses common sense in his areas of expertise much like you do in yours. Never mind the distortions of the media.
That notwithstanding, keep up the good work, there is an incredible amount of disinformation propounded and prattled on about by charlatans peddling their useless nostrums and believed by an incredible number of uneducated and gullible people, who have no understanding of the potential possible harm.
Only $66! Snake oil lives on, lo these many years later.
SO tired of celebrities sounding of on everything they have no basis to be commenting on. Leave medicine to the experts. If the only thing that will go near your “women junk” is a steam bath, then you might have bigger issues. Asian women bathe and rinse in mugwort for cleansing properties, but I don’t even see them in the Korean spas dipping the “lady lilies”. Celebrities need to do what they do best, wear your size 4 clothes on the red carpet and leave the rest to the experts. When you can manage a family on an income under 4 figures, then you have some credibility. She did say if you are in LA, everywhere else we have more fun things to do with them.
You may be right but I find your tone too dismissive and condescending so I stopped reading and will look elsewhere for a balanced approach to this topic.
yes lets listen to a movie star over an OB/GYN aka an expert on vaginas…..idiots
I love my steams!! I don’t use the Korean style but the Central American gentle herb infused steams. My periods are sooooo much better, and I definitely have a heavier flow after with more ” debris” . In addition I’ve never been burned, maybe due to using common sense. I choose my herbs based on what they do, and in my experience they work. I feel fresh, clean connected to my center and the earth.. Not to mention pretty amazing sex after!! I’m not so ” woo woo” in general, and yes I’m for vaccines. As a registered nurse I think this would be a great opportunity to generate some evidence based studies regarding this ancient practice. I think that if cultures from Korea, to Africa, to Central America have been doing this for thousands of years and continue to do so.. There might be something to it. Just because GP says it, doesn’t mean you have to hate it.
I’m not against it because of GP, I’m against it because it is biologically implausible to have health benefits and could be harmful
What you experience may be placebo effect, why not. Stress modifies your menstrual cycle, makes you feel “less fresh and connected to the Earth” (that’s why people meditates or practises yoga!), interferes with a satisfying sex life…
I still don’t understand why you think that a heavier flow is better for your health. To me, it was a health concern since it led to anemia.
Yes! Thank you for answering Goop’s nonsense with an informed and entertaining response! Keep it up!
Oh I love this! I cannot get over GP and her goop. Am I the only one who sees a connection here with her steams and blog title?
Seriously, she is telling women to pay for and do this?
And worse women do it?
I guess men do too. There is a steam especially for their errr…… orifice.
Seriously I don’t not want things blasting out of a shared public toilet into my lady parts. I mean, I put paper on the seats in public bathrooms…….
Also wondering why GP says that if you are in LA you have to do it. Not everyone in LA are mindless sheep who feel the need to jump on the newest ridiculous fad to impress people, especially if it is harmful. And why does she only care about people in LA? Again, sheesh.
This is insane!! As if a woman’s uterus is a filthy place that needs to be steam cleaned… Please stop giving advice, ms Paltrow!
If Gwyneth Paltrow’s vagina is in need of steam cleaning, I wouldn’t let my penis within a mile of it. What kind of men does she sleep with? What kind of men find women as stupid as her appealing, anyway? Smart women are much more attractive!
Maybe that’s why her husband divorced when she started with this “alternative medicine” thing.
“exposure to multiple partners without condoms is a major risk factor for imbalance of the vaginal ecosystem)”
What is the quantum of risk? The most common sexual encounter throughout human evolution has been the gangbang. It’s still the most popular fantasy sex act today for both women and men. Proof of this is the ability of women, and only women, to have multiple orgasms in quick succession.
You know I really hesitated to publish this comment as your idea of what is a popular sexual fantasy can only be fueled by porn and not any knowledge of women. Multiple orgasms are unlikely not an evolutionary advantage allowing women to move from partner to partner in the same encounter.
MULTIPLE studies show the risk of bacterial vaginosis, a potentially harmful disturbance of the vaginal ecosystem, is associated with multiple sexual partners and that condoms are protective. I’m not your medical librarian so head on over to PubMed and look it up.
Where oh where are you getting your misinformation? Being able to experience multiple orgasms is not proof of any of your ridiculous statements. Try taking a break from porn and read some real scientific articles by real scientists. Sheesh.
I wonder if the vaginal mesh that’s been recalled was studied?
To a woman with a neurogenic injury, a prolapse, post “ectomy reconstruction” treatment with possible benefit, may far outweigh the risks. That comment shows how clueless you are. We should stop washing our hands! That would bring a whole new issue to light. Or Puerperal fever. Next you will be advocating bleeding, cupping, leeches or other ridiculous snake oil treatments.
Vaginal mesh was a incredible attempt to change the quality of peoples lives. The length of time for a study to come to a conclusion of safety is often so long, that those suffering now would never reap the benefits.When you have any procedure done you do sign that you are accepting the potential risks. Including unknown ones. If we stopped suing and took responsibility for our own decisions. I am not discussing malfeasance, gross misconduct, and clear lack of description of adverse effects, or the existence of known effects that show up in initial trials.
If we stopped this we would have alternative options. So those who want colloidal silver treatments, or magnetic therapy can have access to, not be able to sue the quacks either, and we would lower the population by survival of the fittest(brains).
If you don’t realize that I am answering your cry for help with great humor, and science, I am even sorrier for you. If I were to suggest that we should all just pray to an omnipotent man in the sky, I bet your reaction would be visceral. Just like mine is, unless that is also on your table with spiritual truffles. Science is imperfect, but a method exists, and that method always includes a possibility of human error. If you believe in using a failure to make a point, you just encourage nothing.
At the moment the rate of lawsuits over things that could not have been foreseen, human error( Drs. are human), and just a need for people to have another to be responsible for their misfortune. All that you wish would be sanctioned and available. Health care would be affordable! When you are in an accident and a skilled surgeon leaves you to bleed to death it is really your own fault. Even good samaritan situations ruin careers.
I have a partial spinal cord injury and I have tried new treatments and failed( sometimes making the problem worse). Every person ,even the one who did not get it right was part of my care team. I am finding no new possibilities recently that I can try. All because of lawsuit fever and lack of personal responsibility.
I guess that rules out putting a a penis in my vagina and god knows the medical system neeever puts anything harmful in it, seriously? If I started named the instruments, pharmaceuticals, including very harmful antibiotics that trash the vagina and surgeries the medical system recommends in the vaginal I’d write for days. I don’t take advice from someone, MD or not that has no experience clinically with what they are talking about, period. Just because you didn’t learn about an at least, 3,000 year old system of healing in 5 years of medical school and residency and then attempt to ridicule it, is arrogance and does not mean it does not exist or has usefulness. Obviously a rude and vicious retort to make fun of another woman’s choices. I’m off to feed my vagina a Xanax she needs to calm down.
Nothing I said rules out a penis. The lower genital tract has evolved to manage that, which is why we have lactobacilli. The lactobacilli that steam could damage, never mind mugwort fumes.
Being 3,000 yrs old doesn’t make a treatment valid it makes it ancient which does not mean safe, healthy or well studied. As one comment pointed out ancient healers thought a virgin’s urine could cure blindness. In the 16th century people used Mercury for syphilis. If treatments are effective they remain part of medicine (Hippocrates was right about a lot, so yeah doctors learn the ancient stuff that works). However, things that don’t work are dismissed and the biologically implausible (e.g. V-steaming) needs some damn good studies before anyone could recommend it.
Sounds about right to me. I wouldn’t take any advice from GP let alone messing with my private parts. Thanks for your reply.
VAGINOLOGIST needs to relax – the doctor’s response was hardly “rude” or “vicious”. It was medically informed. Gwyneth Paltrow is one of the stupidest celebrities I can think of; everything that emerges from her privileged mouth is mind-boggling in its stupidity. She’s a nitwit. She should really find some leeches and apply them to her vulval area – I heard it’s great for extracting bad vibes….
I so hope the …..mugwort….. being used at that specific “clinic” is organic!
(I have this feeling GP will die young, being stressed out and obsessed due to an absurd lifestyle)
With you on 99.999% Dr Gunter, but Hippocrates? Mmm… nah… otherwise we’d all be sorting out GP’s melancholia by sorting out the black bile inbalance. Avicenna… Galen… Fallopius… my own hero: Vesalius… this is where we start turning away from humor all theory which, ironically enough, referenced trying sweet smelling herbs near the vaginal to coax a wandering uterus back home.
*humoral. Not humor all. Stupid autocorrect. Maybe I should steam the tablet.
You are a fool and no little about your own body, may you be the first to pay for a pulmonary embolism. Which would seem to be a medical possibility. You may just win a Darwin!
But you do take advice from Gwyneth Paltrow? Alrighty then. When women make stupid choices and blindly follow dumb advice from celebrities, people will make fun of them. You must be used to that, though.
Skip the Xanax, and feed her fingers, tongue, and penis. The best way to help your poor vagina blow off some steam (see how I worked that in there) is to give her a good workout, and a few nice orgasms.
What about scouring it with pad of fine wire wool? What about a bug bomb?
I hope the sand that you apparently have in your vagina over this article is ethically sourced.
Thanks for being the “sense” to this kind of celebrity-hyped folklore. We have so many misconeptions about our vaginas and WE say all the time that it is a “self cleaning over”! Girls, especially, need to hear this often and early. Bravo, Dr. Jen.
Whatever else you might think about it, Steaming Vaginas would be a great name for a punk band.
Haitian women douche with boric acid before intercourse and they take a course of antibiotics before each menstruation because of its “uncleanliness”. This traditional practice has put their cohort at higher risk of contracting HIV and dying of cervical cancer. If Gwyneth Paltrow got on board with that practice, women might similarly follow suit.
While steaming with mugwort doesn’t sound as extreme, I can only infer the same potential risk of destroying not only normal flora but also the vagina/cervix’s natural protective lining. This is an unnecessary risk for infection and cancer.
For instance, groups who do something as simple as drink very hot tea in places like Japan and Pakistan have higher rates of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. They injured the tissue and made cancer more likely.
To the “holistic” people commenting I would argue that the MOST holistic approach is to trust your body to regulate itself. It has been evolving and perfecting through natural selection much longer than the few centuries boasted by various traditional saltings and steamings described in previous comments. But by all means, continue “steaming your uterus”…while you’re at it have some bloodletting done and forgo the OBGYN in favor of a midwife at home; that way, natural selection will continue to do its job.
You’re famous! http://www.people.com/article/gwyneth-paltrow-vagina-advice
Reblogged this on accomplishyourgoalswithprofessormckellar and commented:
As a clinical anatomist and microbiologist, I thought this article was worth sharing.
I just read parts of the article to a group of ER nurses. All of them immediately recoiled and said the same things you did- that the vagina is self-cleaning, that steam runs the risk of burning delicate tissue, and that introducing herbs and other things of that nature could have extremely adverse effects.
What horrifies me is that this isn’t just steam gently wafting over the outer portions of the genitalia, but also penetrating and reaching the inner portions. Someone compared this to a steam facial, but the difference there is that facial skin is tougher and it’s only the outer portion of the face, which doesn’t include the eyes, inner nose, mouth, throat, etc – and these are all things that are relatively used to interacting with the air and can interact with steam to some degree. The vagina was not built for that.
I’m all for trying out non-traditional remedies, but this just sounds like it’s too much danger with absolutely no payoff.
Vagina steaming is much better than douching or using pharmaceuticals. It’s been done in many ancient cultures for infinite generations. Also, in the middle east, women pack their vaginas with salt after having a baby – to sterilize and tighten. Modern medicine is over pretentious. Some of the wisdom of old is worth yielding to, or at least having an open mind (and open v) about it. Not because it’s Gwen talking about it, but because many generations of women have benefitted from this practice. Just be careful, follow instructions from those who have experience with the practice, and use common sense. You have done much worse things to your vaginas, I am sure.
Doing things for centuries doesn’t make then safe or effective medically. Disagreeing with Paltrow and V-steamers doesn’t mean I’m open minded it’ means that I reviewed the evidence, applied anatomy and physiology (I am the expert, Paltrow is not) and reached a conclusion. I’m also not shilling for anyone, which appears to be the #1 purpose of GOOP.
Packed with salt??? Wow,, I mean besides possibly adding to their mans high blood pressure by adding salt to his diet, to pack a very sensitive and wounded area like that with salt… OUCH!
Making a medical statement that any treatment of a medical condition is “much better than … using pharmaceuticals” without studying the science is the ultimate degree of pretentiousness. To make a medical claim without a medical background or doing your own science-based research is begging to be called stupid.
1- If shes “consciously uncoupled” doesn’t that mean her couchie isn’t being used right now? So what’s to sanitize? Unless, that is, she’s just messing around with other partners -and not her husband.
2- I find using your fame to promote something, u know little about, is reckless behavior and she should be held accountable should someone mindlessly follow her advice over that of their physician. Why, you ask…..well fame seduces us, and we covet what the rich and famous have. Human nature leans towards a heard mentality; similar to having 6 toll lanes and everyone is lined up behind just one line. She is not licensed to offer medical advice, weather holistic or otherwise. Her personal proclivities should be kept just that!
3-Here’s my advice to Ms. Paltrow…..I fully support anyone suing your butt should they be harmed by your big mouth, public suggestions! So ZIP-IT DARLIN!
And anyone thinking of following the advice of someone who named their child Apple…….is in need of some serious medical attention. BA RN
Which means, your vagina is about to sneeze if you put those things in it. ACHOO! Ewww
“…because from the days of Dioscorides, the plant has been regarded, in common with Wormwood, as useful in keeping off the attacks of moths… ” -Botanical.com
Reblogged this on Conversations I Wish I Had.
What should I do if Gwyneth Paltrow’s advice conflicts with that of the great medical expert, Suzanne Somers? Please help!
Then you need to take it one step further and consult the church of Scientology. Best of luck…
GP’s reasoning for doing the steam are definitely off, however herbal steams with calendula or chamomile has been traditionally practiced as a gentle way to help heal the delicate torn, inflamed, or tender tissue after a vaginal birth, or other infections – in which case it is actually a very safe, and effective method.
As an expert in the area I recommend stiz baths with water only.
Poor Gwynnie. Being an Actor must damage the brain muscles. Where do these weird ideas of improving on nature come from?
I am constantly amazed at the stupidity of this generation. I learned in school; If A is true and B is true then C is true by tautologies which are a key concept in propositional logic. The problem with sales, is their “truths” might be true in some sense, but not when applied to the matter at hand. Therefore they appear to be true. And, the sequence of statements following their premise, are built on tenuous foundations. In English: it can sound true but might not be true in this “vaginal” application. So then every sentence they offer to solidify their reasoning falls to the trash, as it was not sound to begin with…..The problem with this generation is they are unable to see the non sequitur of the logic presented…….Most have little ability to be smart and reason through all the fine points, which might offer them clues as to why/how the reasoning is unsound. In other words…they listen and say, “sounds good to me”…NO THOUGHT OR REASONING INVOLVED. See all, that is why some smart parents say to their children, finish college and then u can go be a movie star if u want! You would never hear Jodi Foster or Brook Shields ever saying anything like this. Keep it up Gwyneth…you’re a lawsuit waiting to happen!
Hell to the NO.
Napalm-grade, neuron-apoptosing stupid, I wonder why she/they decided that mugwort was a thing?
Probably heard it in Harry Potter
My uterus is cringing and trying to crawl away just thinking about it.
So that’s why my girlfriend ordered a haldheld shower wand! Now it makes sense why she spends hours in there!
And let’s not vaccinate our kids, either!
Not at all the same thing
Yes. Yes it is.
For some reason, Steve Martin’s “LA Story” comes to mind here, specifically the bit about getting a high colonic because it’s the “in” thing …
Thank you for your post, Dr. Gunter. You note that “plants cannot balance hormones”. But aren’t there plant-derived bioidentical hormones that are used as hormone replacement therapies? Could you comment? I know — and you point out — that medical parlance has specific terms with technical meanings that sometimes get used and confused in popular media. Could you help clarify? Thanks.
I did, that is the section on phytoestrogens. There are plants that have estrogenic properties on some tissues but are not actually hormones.
Hi Dr Gunther, I don’t believe you have answered the question here. You stated in the comments field “plants cannot balance hormones”. As you would know, this is untrue. Being a medical doctor blogger it would be worthwhile clarifying such for your readers.
Did you read the post???
Balancing hormones = gibberish
See the section on phytoestrogens
Firstly, apologies Dr *Gunter.
I did read your post. Can you explain to me why “balancing hormones” is “gibberish”? Do you mean it’s a non medical term in general? This is not a dig, I want to understand, especially as this phrase is used so frequently.
I’m trying this out tomorrow with a client in combination with reflexology and crystal bowls. Will be compiling case notes with a view to collating enough for a retrospective analysis over the course of a number of recipients. Evidence based medicine requires initial pilot studies and the collection of data in order to make informed judgement, and as we know modern treatments have in fact only been in use for the last 100 years vs many hundreds of years traditional usage, based on I imagine the success of the therapies in eyes of both patients and practitioners. It is easy to use a reductionist approach to dismiss something there is little scientific support for in the current literature, however until this is available it would be impossible to accurately analyse the risks or effectiveness of this or any other treatment.
This woman is an embarrassment to my people. I really wish she’d just stop talking entirely.
In Sudan, women smoke their vaginas, with the smell of the wood they use serving as an aphrodisiac for their menfolk. See http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article25119. Safe to say I’d choose a massage over crouching over burning embers any day!
Vaginal steaming has been around for years. Shame on you for being snarky to her and discounting holistic and natural remedies especially when you have no idea and apparently have no interest in learning. Mugwort is an antibacterial and antifungal. Dr’s certainly are not the know all, see alls they think they should be regarded as. http://m.naturalnews.com/news/041487_vaginal_steaming_womens_health_traditional_medicine.html
Holistic typically means whole person and really means an approach to health care rather than a specific therapy.
This can’t possibly be a remedy for anything, it’s biologically implausible. Hence the snark. Unless the goal is lightening a wallet.
Natural does not mean good or better and sadly it often means unstudied. Traditional also does not mean something works. Also these words have been co-opted so they are meaningless medically.
If you read the post you would see that it is as well researched as something like this can be. Regardless, plants cannot balance hormones no matter how ingested or imbibed. Steam in the vagina could cause an issue with the microbiome. Mugwort is an allergen.
Just because it’s been “around for years” doesn’t mean it’s effective OR safe. I’d trust a medical professional and peer-reviewed studies before I’d trust a news source pushing an agenda. But that’s just me…
Also, NaturalNews is a totally crap website. Nothing there is factual.
You would be better off getting your health advice from TheOnion.
“Mugwort is an antibacterial…” which is precisely why it’s a bad idea! Not all bacteria is bad for you.
Just because something has antifungal and antibiotic properties does not mean it belongs in your vagina.
Shame on a doctor for giving sound medical advice?
So… How much is your salon charging to kill the necessary and beneficial vaginal bacteria of its clients?
Vaginal Steaming,,, or Steaming Vaginas have been around for years. Are you sure you read it right?
If heat is so bad, then what about using a sauna or hot bath? You are supposed to sit well above the steam so it doesn’t burn. Also, the healing properties of some plants aren’t limited to phytoestrogens. I haven’t tried it yet, and i don’t think doing it in LA is going to be great, but it can be done at home. The arguments in this article appear to be in direct rebuttle to Gwyneth. They don’t seem to be refuting the traditional practice done at home. For me, the jury is still out. This one recommends doing it a week before your period…
A sauna isn’t squatting over steam sitting over steam, it’s being in a room with steam. The “proponents” of V-steaming claim it cleans the uterus and so they must be using some kind of mechanism for vagianl delivery. Of they don’t understand anatomy.
Healing property is a vague term. However, plants work on medical conditions the same way pharmaceutical do – on chemicals and receptors. There is no suggestion based on biology that Mugwort or Wormwood can do anything beneficial to the reproductive tract.
The link to how to steam was removed as I don’t generally allow links to sites with non vetted information.
Best advice ever: If you want to feel relaxed get a good massage. If you want to relax your vagina, have an orgasm.
Loved this article. 🙂
So what then of sitz baths, tampons, etc.? I’d rather steam my vagina than stick a wad of rayon in it.
A site bath is a bath. The water stays on your skin. So, uh, no comparison. Also no allergenic plants.
Tampons and menstrual cups appear to have no impact on the vaginal microbiome and certainly don’t change the temperature. Nor do tampons claim to treat depression et al.
Well, about tampons, I used to have bladder infections, did lots of tests only to find out that they were caused by the usage of tampons.. The tampons may actually cause pression to the uretra thus causing infctions… I stopped using tampons, I stopped having bladder infections…
Pretty sure tampons have been thoroughly medically studied. Also pretty sure this process never will be, because it doesn’t even jive with basic anatomy.
I’m so glad I follow your blog!! Not that i would have tried the steaming but it is hilarious.
On a similar note, I did put yogurt up there once in a desperate attempt to alleviate yeast infection symptoms… it didn’t do much except make me taste yogurt, which I thought was very odd. Do you have any posts about that??
Yoghurt at least makes sense. Did you lick your fingers maybe?
Yeah, after applying it to a yeast infection. Gross.
oh, jen. i adore you. thanks for the truth.
Okay, my girlfriend has cancelled her vagina steam! So where can I get her an orgasm?
Had any offers yet? mayb it’ll just have to b up to u!! (Horror!)
isn’t Wormwood the stuff they made them take out of Absinthe to make it street-legal? cause y’know… like semi-poisonous hallucinations? I’m no lady, but if it’s unhealthy and unfit for even digestion, I’d keep it outta my thunderdome
Bahaha! Thunder dome…. 🙂
So, now US women will be steaming their vajayjays while not vaccinating their children because famous people said so. Great.
I personally am waiting for them to start using 11 herbs and spices instead of he mugwort.. Then we will be on to something… 🙂 Oh, but still get your kids vaccinated….
Well, one thing Paltrow says does follow a certain kind of logic; “If you’re in LA, you have to do it.”
In this instance, taking as accepted that in LA (as in much of the world where people remain focused on their perceived shortcomings) there are quite a few mentally and physically unhealthy and unwise things that are done to meet certain expectations among various communities, it would therefore be logical to set a new standard for an unhealthy and unwise thing that absolutely MUST be done if one is going to survive and succeed. Next will likely be the fire hose enema cleanse to detoxify one’s GI tract and provide additional moisture to one’s esophagus all at the same time.
so… how do we make sterilization the new trend? cause I mean if they can’t think for themselves, should they be having kids?
…and quite possibly additional moisture to your peritoneal and pleural cavities too.
Ok, so GW is pretty ignorant when it comes to anatomy and physiology and generally speaking intelligently, but your argument against a vaginal steam is pretty weak. I would specifically cite your your lack of supporting evidence from the literature, or even personal experience in your practice treating a steam that has gone horribly wrong, as well as your take-home conclusion that steaming your Mrs. Nesbits is “probably” and “possibly” a bad idea. Your extreme caution seems more emotional than factual. Steaming your face doesn’t really help you (physiologically speaking) but it sure feels nice and helps you relax. So does using the warm-water squirt button on a toilet found almost anywhere in Japan. I for one am willing to try steaming my vag like all the little old ladies I see at my local Korean spa – just because my instinct tells me it might feel nice.
heroin feels nice too
Thank you. That was also my observation.
Actually, it can cause problems if you happen to get air in the wrong place. I read up on a malpractice case where a dr told a woman who had recently given birth that it was okay to direct the air jets in a hot tub at her vagina for healing. She died abruptly, for no apparent reason. Turns out she got an air embolism from the air jet. it was crucial that she had just given birth, but yes, this can be a very bad idea if under pressure.
Dont forget the melted butter, always a great combination for things once they are steamed.
EVERYBODY knows melted butter makes all things better. Except for burns. Don’t put butter on burns.
Paltrow is making medical claims, which are fair game. Dr. Gunter showed why those claims are bullshit.
So let me get this straight: you criticize the article for failing to cite supporting evidence from the medical literature, accuse the author of being emotional rather than factual…then you state that you’re willing to try vaginal steaming because your INSTINCT tells you it might be nice?
BOOM! For the win.
thanks for being open minded!
Ladies, please don’t introduce steam (100 degrees C) up in there. Please.
Google ratus vagina.. Indonesians have been doing something similar for generations.
Americans suffer from a lack of common sense.
Yes, and so have many South American people. It amazes me how much criticism this is getting when women have been doing this for thousands of years. Just because some pretentious snob is talking about it, does not mean it’s not viable. I have some issues with heavy bleeding and am going to try it. My alternatives are drugs or ablation. So what’s the difference? I can take medicines that are going to have nasty side effects, get my uterine lining burned (which means I will have to go under anesthesia and have a D&C which is an additional )surgical procedure), or I can sit on a bowl while some steamed herbs relax my cooch. Tough decision.
Maybe don’t use Mugwort? When ingested by sheep, cattle and horses it can cause miscarriage. Even if you are not pregnant, it may well cause you to bleed.
Throwing money away on an untested and biologically impossible old folk remedy of approximately the same value as the classical cure for blindness (which was, true story, the urine of a virgin), or doing something that might actually help. Hmm… That is a tough decision…
Maybe I should try something women have been doing for thousands of years due to the lack of scientific medicine? I know, I’ll die in childbirth!
Good luck getting the steam past your cervix. Let us know how it all… comes out.
I only steam my vagina to get the wrinkles out when it’s been crushed in a suitcase.
Reblogged this on M. Fenn and commented:
Reblogging this because, well, read for yourself. Don’t do this!
In fairness to Paltrow, steamed vaginas do have fewer calories and less trans fats than fried ones.
Brawhahaha….less calories, less trans fat….Gwyneth Paltrow, that crazy minks always coming up with the darndest things to say… Let me have my coffee first before I address this nonsense.
Can’t stop laughing!!!!
Well steamed, fried, boiled, or baked.. I am hoping they are free range vaginas.
Omg! I am loving the humour here!! You guys are awesome 🙂
Yes, but won’t men be more likely to eat it if it’s fried?
Steamed, served with some melted butter, and a cold beer. Sounds great to me.. 🙂
Only if it’s been wrapped in bacon first.
Paltrow is definitely an expert, at learning other people’s words and creating facsimiles of emotions.
THAT is the extent of her expertise!
For anything else, we should heed the words of someone who actually knows something and is rather less gullible.
Steam, which has the potential to burn near my delicate lady bits? No. Really, who makes this **** up?
Although Mr. Wizard doesn’t address steaming vaginas directly, he does affirm that steam is very hot, not for your run-of-the-mill vagina.
The Hollyweirdians! And we’re supposed to believe everything they say, right? Wrong!
Common sense tells me this is definitely not a good idea. But hey, GP and all the other female Hollyweirdians can steam their vaginas all they want if it’ll shut their stupid mouths. I hope they all ‘feel the burn’.
Sex bark is presumably worse than a sex bite.
Depends on the bite; my bark is like a banshee (undergoing extreme v-steam-clean)
Depends where you bite 😉
ba dum tss
She was joking. It was sarcasm. It was funny. She really does know who to believe.
I only have really vague memories, but in college I took a course on ancient (Greek/Roman) medicine, and I think it was Hippocrates who was really into cabbage. One of his suggestions for treating lady-troubles was to have the woman sit over steaming cabbage, and get those vapors up in ‘er. Of course, at that point some people also thought the uterus was it’s own animal that moved around inside the woman…
Anyone who accepts gynecologic advice from Gwynth Paltrow instead of their own gynecologist gets what they deserve (and should probably look for a new gynecologist).
agreed…..and she doesn’t know who to believe…OMG!
Why must you describe the system as “delicate”? It’s arguably not. One of the surprising results in the past few years is how many dynamic vaginal microbiomes don’t appear to be associated with disease states. Saying they’re “delicate” perpetuates the same wishy-washy thinking that leads to mugwort cleanses.
I disagree. It is delicate balance in that introducing stuff not meant to be there can easily mess it up! And a bacteria that can’t be grown well in a lab but only identified by PCR also counts as delicate.
I could use very medically technical terms but then it wouldn’t appeal to as broad a market. Delicate is a fine descriptor and the post clear clarifies what I meant.
The physician is referring to the “delicate” nature of the Ph balance and vaginal flora. When tampered with, can cause serious health issues.
Trust the good doctor here. It’s extremely delicate with regard to balance of pH in there. You do not want it flying one way or the other. Delicate is a perfect description of the environment in the vagina.
You make good points, but so does Dr. Paltrow. I don’t know WHO to believe!
I’d believe the one with a few relevant qualifications.
Actually, it’s not ‘Doctor’ Paltrow….she is a good actress, but isn’t a medical professional of any kind. Doctor Gunter is a well-qualified medical professional. (And Dr. Gunter doesn’t tell Ms. Paltrow how to act!)
I believe the “doctor” part is in jest. But i disagree on the “good actreas” part.
I pretty sure that person was being sarcastic. Can you understand sarcasm?
are u a moron? this writer has 4 years of medical school, a 5 year ob/gyn residency, an infectious disease certification, and also consulted an allergist…and u want to know who to believe? Here’s an idea…..let me help u build a spaceship to take u on a trip…..I can do it!…….Really.
Nope u r wrong,,, how do you explain accupunture on stroke patient?? What is the easiest n best way to remove stubborn sticker residue from the wall for example? Steam it, ! Some traditional method are non admitted by western doctor , nor to explained…… But my dad recover stroke not from western doctor medicine,,,but by physiotherapy and accupunture way…
Removing sticker residue is not in any way a useful analogy for GYN health
Ha! Where do they come up with this nonsense?
Actually, ancient cultures have been steaming their vags for centuries. However, I am not a fan of Ms. Goop, so, I really don’t pay any attention to what she says. She’s only doing it because she’s being trendy.
Am I missing something here, or is it not true that steam is extremely hot? Surely you would get some degree of burn/scald if you did this…..
I’m all for a massage –but I’ll have to stop laughing first. Thanks, Jen!!
It really makes you want to laugh! I’ll take the massage any day.
Ms. Paltrow: steam the eggs and keep them as far a away as possible from your vagina.
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