March 28, 2023
I know, I know, after reading the title of this article, you might be thinking, “vaginal steaming…what on earth is that?” You might also be wondering why a male biohacker would be even remotely interested in this concept.
To be honest, although vaginal steaming (also known as Yoni steaming) is traditionally popular amongst female health enthusiasts, lingam steaming is the male equivalent, and I actually own a steaming unit and a few times a month enjoy reading a good book while steaming my own nether regions. I'll admit: it's relaxing, soothing, and seems to assist with overall pelvic floor function and bowel regularity – which means that you guys out there can keep reading too, because the practice of sitting over a gently steaming, all-natural herbal infusion also has benefits to males.
So bear with me, because as you're about to discover, this ancient self-care practice can be transformative for women's health and well-being, and applicable to men too. In a world where society is increasingly waking up to the importance of respecting and prioritizing care for sexual anatomy, the practice of steaming can offer a simple and beautiful way to tune in and care for the most vulnerable and sensitive part of men's and women's bodies.
For years, I've been vaguely aware of the practice of vaginal steaming. Then I met Jessica and Andrew Pratt, the founders of LEIAMOON – a company that makes super comfy and easy-to-use steaming “seats.” Jessica and Andrew founded LEIAMOON after experiencing the transformative effects of vaginal steaming firsthand. Their approach and products are grounded in the belief that more people deserve access to this self-care practice.
As a licensed architect and former professor at Parsons School of Design, Jessica utilized her design skills to bring the LEIAMOON brand and product line to life. Meanwhile, Andrew's background in law and business has been instrumental in navigating the challenges of growing their startup and serving their rapidly growing community. Together, they are empowering women to tune in and care for the most vulnerable, and sensitive, part of their bodies, the vagina and womb space.
Through their work at LEIAMOON, Jessica and Andrew are shifting the cultural tone around care for our private parts, a more active and mindful approach to sexual health, prostate health, pelvic floor muscle quality and function, menstrual cycle regularity and comfort, etc. – from one of fear and neglect to one of empowerment and reverence. Their message is clear: honoring the rhythmic nature of your body and hormone cycles is crucial for overall well-being.
But back to my question…what on earth *is* steaming? Well, I asked Jessica to write this guest article to give you a comprehensive education in this time-honored practice. After all, as a woman and a mother, she has the most intimate understanding of female anatomy, and learning from her has helped me to understand and respect vaginal care on a new level, and apply the same concepts to my own male care.
I got my first period before Google.
So I read Teen magazine, listened to my older cousin’s stories about girls bleeding through their pants at school, and occasionally thumbed through an outdated “Our Bodies, Ourselves” book my mom gave me.
My high school friends and I considered our monthly bleed to be a huge inconvenience. When I got to college, my roommates excitedly discovered that our campus health center offered “free” birth control pills. We all went on them for the first time without any birth control education, aside from whispers from upperclassmen that you could skip your period by not taking the pink pills.
I bring this all up to say I knew nothing foundational about my monthly cycle as a young woman, and the cultural tone was (and still is) that we wanted it to go away. Guess what? If you completely ignore the rhythmic nature of your uterus, body, and hormone cycles, it does not go away. It gets louder! And it will continue to get louder and louder until you decide to listen in and honor its needs.
What do I mean by loud? I mean unwell! Uncomfortable! For me, after years of compounded stress and neglect, this eventually meant bleeding every two weeks due to a sizable endometrial polyp. I needed to have surgery to clear my womb of irregular growth. I felt lucky to get my 28-day cycle back and started celebrating this as a critical vital sign each month. I then committed myself to practices that supported my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health, and in turn, my menstrual cycle. Perhaps the most life-changing of these practices for me was vaginal steaming.
After experiencing the transformative effects of vaginal steaming firsthand, I founded LEIAMOON with my husband Andrew to spread awareness about the practice. As a licensed architect and former professor at Parsons School of Design, I used my design skills to bring the LEIAMOON brand and product line to life, focusing on a home electronic steam seat to make this ancient self-care practice more easily accessible to all women. Meanwhile, Andrew's background in law and business helped us navigate the challenges of growing our startup and serving our rapidly growing community. Together, we're on a mission to spread awareness about vaginal steaming and its empowering benefits for women's health and well-being.
In this comprehensive two-part article series, I'll delve into the fundamental aspects of vaginal steaming. In the first part, you will learn the definition of vaginal steaming and gain an overview of the practice. Then, I'll cover the reasons why you may choose to steam during different life stages.
If you're a man who is reading this, know that the practice and techniques used for pelvic steaming also apply to men. Ben shares that lingam steaming can be used to help tone and cleanse the muscles around the perineum, help support the prostate gland, and provide men with a chance to relax and connect deeply to their bodies and inner “maleness.” I’d add that it can facilitate access to men’s “divine feminine energy” as well, creating a safe space for your pelvic area to open and receive. Steaming can thusly be a powerful tool for men looking to balance their masculine and feminine energies and allow more room for vulnerability, emotional release, intuition, and self-awareness.
In the second part of the blog, I'll debunk common myths and misconceptions surrounding steaming and educate you about the potential dangers associated with the practice. I will also go through different methods of steaming: traditional methods, spa experiences, modified sitz baths, and yoni (or for men, lingam) steam seats. Finally, you will learn how to steam at home, including preparation, selecting herbs, and steaming instructions.
What Is Vaginal Steaming?
Vaginal steaming, also known as yoni or womb steaming, is an ancient self-care practice that women have used for thousands of years.
The practice involves sitting or squatting over a pot of steaming water infused with herbs to promote warmth, relaxation, and a deeper relationship with the body.
The reasons you might choose to steam are myriad and generally fit within the scope of reproductive health self-care. Recently, more women are discovering and sharing their experiences with vaginal steaming, and the practice is gaining a new surge in popularity.
Vaginal steaming has been around for centuries and passed down through maternal lineages in cultures all over the world. Experts estimate it could be anywhere from four thousand to fourteen thousand years old or more.
Historical accounts of vaginal steaming are well-documented in Eastern nations like Korea and Indonesia, as well as in traditional Mayan cultures. Steam bathing, including vaginal steaming, dates back to at least the late Pleistocene era in Northeast Asia and likely spread through Central and South America after migrating to North America over the Bering Strait. Reports of the practice in African cultures, where it may also have originated, also exist but are less documented in scientific literature. One of the most famous advocates of steaming claims it is as common in Central America “as drinking peppermint tea.”
The most verifiable traditional uses for vaginal steaming include postpartum healing, menstrual cycle regulation, and as a general form of reproductive health maintenance. It’s believed that moist heat from the steam can help to increase circulation and promote healing, while the herbs added can provide additional therapeutic benefits. For men, it's been reported that steaming can assist with prostate, bladder, and kidney health, and also improve sexual performance by way of increasing healthy circulation, and soothing pain or tightness in the area.
3 Reasons To Vaginal Steam
If you’re new to the practice, you’re probably asking yourself…
…why in the world would I want to steam my crotch?
Here’s my big, overarching WHY:
Right now, the world is waking up to the importance of respecting the female body, mind, and spirit. This involves prioritizing care for your female anatomy, specifically your vagina and womb space, which are your most sensitive areas and where new life is created. Your cycles are indicators of your overall well-being; giving these parts of yourself the attention they deserve is crucial. It's time to shift from a mindset of fear and neglect around this space to empowerment and reverence.
Vaginal steaming creates an opportunity for you to easily open yourself up, both physically and emotionally, and allow soothing and comfort into an otherwise tightly guarded space. The feeling of warm, aromatic steam on your vagina can be calming, cleansing, grounding, meditative, rejuvenating, and cathartic. It's a simple, beautiful way to tune in and care for the most vulnerable and sensitive part of your body.
Beyond this value as an elemental self-care ritual, there are many more specific reasons you may want to steam depending on your current life phase, goals, and relationship to your menstrual cycle. I’m going to break this down into categories: 1. You’re a menstruating woman, 2. You’re in a childbearing phase, 3. You’re approaching or have entered into menopause. Men have different “phases” but can still benefit from lingam steaming in the same way that Ben does – by simply reading a good book, meditating, praying, etc. for a few relaxing steaming sessions each month, particularly if the pelvis is feeling tight or dysfunctional, there's a desire for more blood flow, traveler's constipation or a “gummed up” lower digestive tract, etc.
Reason #1: You’re a Woman with a Menstrual Cycle
Something I’ve learned along the way in my research is that “period” is a pretty loaded term, historically speaking.
The period is known to have been associated in many cultures with shame, uncleanliness, and sickness. The etymological origins of the word itself refer to it as a cycle of a recurrence of a disease. But as we all know, there is nothing inherently dirty, shameful, or sickly about a period.
So what is it specifically? Your menstrual cycle is the process your body goes through each month to prepare for a possible pregnancy, which includes the period. Unless you are pregnant, you shed the lining of your uterus by way of bleeding each month, before the lining builds back up again. Your “period” is really a monthly uterine cleanse – that’s the term I prefer to use for it.
I bring up this bit of semantics because it makes so much more sense in the context of vaginal steaming to understand your menstrual cycle through this lens. You want your body to function normally and naturally at its best. And part of that is having a healthy, comfortable, fully functioning uterine cleanse (not a “periodic illness”)!
One of the main things vaginal steaming can do is complement this natural monthly process by facilitating the release of stagnant matter from the uterus or vaginal canal by increasing circulation to and relaxing the pelvic area. In a recent interview I did with Keli Garza, founder of the Peristeam Hydrotherapy Institute, she shared her meticulous documentation of hundreds of women's vaginal steaming experiences. Many women reported that after steaming, or during the ensuing menstrual cycle, some type of material is released that had previously been left behind. This expelled matter can vary in appearance, from dark and coagulated to bright and gooey, but the common thread among these reports is that it ultimately led to a healthier, more effective uterine cleanse.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. From menstrual flow concerns to vaginal dryness, endometriosis, painful periods, PCOS, pelvic floor issues, fibroids, clotting, irregular discharge, excess cervical mucus, spotting, and more, the list of specific issues around the menstrual cycle that women have reported great results with from vaginal steaming is vast and continues to grow.
The bottom line? Whatever your current relationship is to your cycle, if you’re a menstruating woman, regular vaginal steaming can help you achieve a healthier cycle and a more efficient uterine cleanse. If your menstrual cycle is less than 26 days or more than 32 days long, varies by more than 4 days per month, requires you to change pads or tampons or cup more than 6 times in a day, brings you to your knees with pain, has made you dependent on pain pills, and/or makes you feel emotionally off your rocker, know that this is not normal. Listen to what your body is saying, and know that pharmaceuticals, surgeries, and other conventional medical procedures aren’t the only solutions out there.
Reason #2: You’re In A Childbearing Phase
Pregnancy and childbirth are major life events that involve three distinct phases: preparing to conceive, giving birth, and postpartum recovery.
Each phase requires distinct levels of preparation and care.
The first phase of childbearing involves preparing to conceive. For many couples, getting pregnant can be a difficult and emotional process that requires patience, planning, and often medical intervention. In this phase, women may explore alternative health and wellness practices to support their fertility journey, such as vaginal steaming.
The second phase is giving birth, which can be a physically and emotionally intense experience. Women have been seeking alternative health and wellness practices to prepare for labor and to support postpartum recovery, including the historical and current use of vaginal steaming for labor preparation and postpartum recovery.
Finally, there is the postpartum phase, which is a critical period of recovery for new mothers. During this phase, women may encounter physical and emotional challenges as they adjust to life with a newborn.
In the following sections, we will delve into the potential benefits and risks of vaginal steaming at each phase of childbearing.
Trying to Get Pregnant
First of all, it’s no secret that stress affects your reproductive system!
This can include interfering with your sex drive, increasing vaginal discharge and/or dryness during sex, causing infections, and directly affecting your ovulation.
Vaginal steaming is a calming, meditative experience that helps to counter the environmental, emotional, and physical stressors that create these negative effects. In this regard alone, the benefits are very real. Experts agree that when you’re trying to conceive, the less stress, the better!
Steaming also has the added benefit of connecting your conscious mind with your womb space, which beautifully complements fertility awareness-based methods (FABMs) for conceiving. These are widely recognized ways of tracking your menstrual cycle to pinpoint when you will be the most fertile. Research has shown FABMs to be remarkably effective for couples trying to conceive, and many cutting-edge fertility clinics recommend vaginal steaming as a complementary practice to this method.
The primary assertion is that steaming can act as a “uterine lavage” that cleanses the uterus to prepare for egg implantation. Additionally, by way of diluting and softening the cervical tissue prior to intercourse, it can help to create a lubricated path for semen to travel through the cervix. And that’s just using steaming as a tool to complement your natural cycle. Furthermore, there are even more specific ways that some specialists recommend using vaginal steaming in concert with other fertility-enhancement methods like ovulation induction, in vitro fertilization, and intrauterine insemination.
As a general rule, experts agree that you should not vaginal steam while you’re pregnant.
Since one of the primary functions of steaming is to help cleanse the uterus, that’s obviously something you do not want to do if you have a baby in there, gestating.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the v-steam community at large is abuzz about one possible exception to this rule, which is steaming for labor preparation. The idea here is that when the baby is ready for birth, you want good circulation to your womb, a lubricated path for the newborn to emerge, soft pliable skin to prevent tearing and to encourage opening, and to be fully relaxed—all things that vaginal steaming can help with.
Like vaginal steaming in general, this isn’t a new idea either. A French obstetrics medical journal documenting the history of childbirth practices showed that steaming for labor was a known practice in Africa in 1887.
There are many midwives and other practitioners who offer steams for this reason today, and many mothers who swear by their effectiveness. The Czech Republic, a nation that has been leading the charge in integrating traditional midwifery into modern obstetrics practice, currently has multiple hospitals that offer vaginal steaming services during childbirth.
I’m sharing this one with the caveat that this is not medical advice and you should absolutely consult with your certified care provider before attempting to steam for labor preparation. But in short, it is both a historically documented and currently growing usage for vaginal steaming.
Vaginal steaming after childbirth is possibly the oldest reason for the practice on record.
In an extensive study conducted for the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” in the early 2000s, researchers examined the traditional herbal vaginal steaming practice known as “Bakera” in Indonesia. In Bakera, vaginal steaming is used by women to “to feel fresh, clean and at ease” after childbirth.
The researchers followed 14 different midwives administering traditional vaginal steams using a wide variety of plants for 166 women spread across several villages in Indonesia. In doing so they logged both thermotherapeutic and aromatherapeutic results for the new mothers, including soothing of muscular strain, edema relief, and alleviating constipation and loss of appetite; as well as “immunostimulant, antiseptic, and antiphlogistic” effects.
Modern advocates of postpartum steaming have found evidence of a host of more precise benefits from steaming after childbirth. The best example of this is the 2019 Fourth Trimester Vaginal Steam Study, where a small group of postpartum participants were divided into a control group (no steaming) and a group that received vaginal steams at various intervals after childbirth. The results showed that steaming had a positive impact on a number of indicators for postpartum recovery, including lowering of blood pressure and pulse, uterine restoration, labia healing, expedited expulsion of lochia, alleviating suture discomfort, and hemorrhoid reduction.
While there is much work to be done in the realm of further scientific investigation into the effects of postpartum steaming, these initial results are promising. That being said, the anecdotal reports continue to pile up, and there are plenty of midwives, birth doulas, and yes, even OBGYNs out there who offer postpartum vaginal steaming services to their clients. I’ve interviewed a few of them myself!
Because at least 10 to 15% of all known pregnancies end in miscarriage, the benefits of vaginal steaming to recover from pregnancy loss should also be mentioned. After pregnancy loss, steaming can help the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy state with more ease and comfort. Its meditative quality may also help you mentally as you grieve and process.
With the caveats of general safety precautions and some specific contraindications, traditional wisdom, modern studies, and the experiential knowledge of countless mothers point to postpartum vaginal steaming as an “effective and safe method for recuperation after childbirth.”
Reason #3: You’re Moving into Menopause
If you’ve been through menopause, you know that vaginal dryness, increased stress, hormonal shifts, weakening pelvic floor muscles, and loss of sexual appetite can be par for the course in this phase of womanhood.
Case studies and reports from perimenopausal and menopausal women have shown that steaming can effectively moisturize, tone, cleanse excess cervical fluid, increase libido, and encourage deeper sleep, among other benefits.
One of my favorite v-steam experts, Dr. Rosita Arvigo, refers to it as an “excellent technique to continue for the rest of our lives in order to prevent pathologies after menopause,” and further elaborates that even months or years after the last menstrual cycle, steaming can cleanse the uterus of stagnant matter:
“I had that experience myself. I had not been menstruating; I was postmenopausal and still doing vaginal steams, and for three cycles in a row I was still passing fluid from my uterus. So we know that if that stays inside it can only harden and then indurate right into the wall of the uterus…. Most women who are menopausal or postmenopausal may not have menstruated for a year or two; when they try the vaginal steam they’re absolutely shocked to see that there were fluids left inside the uterus.”
Additionally, the meditative nature of the practice, its aromatherapeutic properties, and the increased mind-womb space connection are all effective tools to help you manage the general stress that accompanies going through menopause and beyond.
To recap: Vaginal steaming is a practice where you sit or squat over a steaming pot of water infused with herbs that are beneficial for your reproductive health. It's been around for centuries and has been used by many cultures around the world. As more women discover and share their experiences, we’re continually learning more about all that this grounding self-care practice has to offer.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog where I’ll cover the objections and myths around vaginal steaming, the variety of different steaming methods, and how you can easily steam at home.
Ben here again. As I continue to learn more about the nuanced care needs of the female body, I am reminded of the significance of embracing practices such as vaginal steaming that support women in taking charge of their well-being, and as I've mentioned a few times, I think many men will be surprised at how soothing and beneficial this practice is to the male nether regions as well – especially since it can be “stacked” while sitting on the steaming seat with breathwork, meditation, prayer, etc. – or just reading a good book or, in my case, doing a bit of DuoLingo language learning practice.
Thanks to LEIAMOON, both men and women now have access to thoughtfully designed products that make this ancient self-care practice more accessible and enjoyable.
The process of vaginal steaming allows women to open up both physically and emotionally, inviting comfort and healing into an often tightly guarded space. While yes, I don't in fact have a vagina, I trust in the practice as calming, cleansing, grounding, meditative, rejuvenating, and cathartic.
Here, again, are the most important life-stage reasons to consider steaming:
- For menstruating women, vaginal steaming can be a powerful tool to connect with your body and better understand your cycles, shifting the mindset from fear and neglect to empowerment and reverence.
- For women in a childbearing phase, vaginal steaming provides a nurturing and supportive practice that can help maintain overall well-being during this important life stage.
- For women approaching or entering menopause, vaginal steaming offers a gentle and soothing way to care for the body as it undergoes significant changes.
- For men, better prostate health, blood flow, pelvic floor muscle relaxation, libido, soothing pain and pressure from hemorrhoids (if present), and digestive issues such as constipation – along with increases in testosterone if using red light features (see below) on a steaming seat.
LEIAMOON's innovative approach to steaming products sets them apart, making it simple for men and women to incorporate this practice into their self-care routine. Their steaming system includes features such as:
-a fully assembled steam seat including base and top chamber tower+seat cushion
-a stainless steel herb infusion cup
-a bonus facial steam attachment (more on that in part 2)
-a complete tin of LEIAMOON Signature V-Steam Blend organic herbs
-access to guided audio steam meditation
-a patented steam temperature control system
-an ergonomic, non-toxic, non-porous and easy-clean, skin-safe seat cushion
-an oversized-diameter steam opening for maximum underbody exposure
-dual infrared/red light LED’s for additional red light benefits to the nether regions
-a guaranteed one year warranty
LEIAMOON's dedication to empowering men and women to care for their most sensitive and vulnerable parts is commendable – and I hope you're looking forward to Part 2 as much as I am.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on vaginal steaming, LEIAMOON's products, and other practices that honor the male and female anatomy. Do you have any questions for Jessica and Andrew, or personal experiences you'd like to share? Leave your comments below, and let's continue the conversation on men's and women's sexual health and well-being.