For the past two years, I’ve been learning about womb care to support myself, clients, and friends. One of the most supportive practices I’ve come across is ‘pelvic steaming’*, also referred to as vaginal or yoni (for women), or lingam (for men) steaming. Today’s blog will introduce this topic, and I will follow up in May regarding additional important womb care.
Pelvic steaming involves making a large pot of tea and sitting over the medicinal herbal steam while it circulates gentle nourishing warmth throughout the reproductive organs. Pelvic steaming appears to be a universal tradition practiced for thousands of years to benefit women’s health(1). It’s most commonly used in postpartum recovery to regenerate the tissues from any tears, prolapse or trauma after the birthing process. Steaming is still practiced regularly in many cultures, for example in Suriname, Eritrea, and Palau. In South Korea, it’s actually part of hospital care. Pelvic steaming is thankfully making a comeback in Western mainstream populations after being suppressed since Colonial times by a patriarchal medical establishment.
Pelvic steaming has numerous benefits in addition to those mentioned for postpartum care. It is reported to increase lubrication, dissolve cysts, shrink fibroids and balance hormones. Other recorded benefits include releasing infections, clearing trauma, tuning menstrual cycles, improving fertility, relieving pain, assisting contraception, and regulating the nervous system(2). That’s quite a list of reasons to steam! However, a health issue is not required in order to enjoy steaming. For instance, in many indigenous cultures, even before reaching menarche, steaming is practiced simply to prepare for good womb health in circles with sisters, mothers, aunties, and grandmothers.
While pelvic steaming is a gentle and supportive routine, there are some contraindications. For example, because the steam increases circulation and helps to relax the cervix, women should not steam while pregnant or when trying to conceive post ovulation. For the same reason, it’s not good to steam while menstruating, as it can induce excess flow.
Depending on factors such as your stage of life, menstrual cycle length and the health of internal tissues, there are different herbs to work with and differing amounts of time to steam. For example, some herbs work to lengthen or shorten your cycle, increase dryness or provide lubrication, cleanse or nurture, tighten or relax; some people should only steam for 10 minutes and others, 30. It's important to create a balanced herbal blend catered to the individual and their desired results. If you are experiencing a specific womb issue, please reach out to me to book a consultation so that we can consider diet, herbs, lifestyle and a specific steam protocol to benefit your unique constitution.
A steam seat is helpful; this is a wooden box with a hole in the top to allow the steam through. Seats allow for greater comfort and support for the pelvis than, for instance, kneeling or squatting over a pot with steam. I now offer beautiful steam sauna boxes as well as custom herbal steam blends. Please contact me to order.
*A note on terms: I love the word ‘Yoni,’ which is in Sanskrit and
means ‘sacred source or space.’ I use it instead of ‘vagina’ which
translates as ‘sheath’. For men, the Sanskrit term “Lingam'' refers to the god Shiva and generative power. Although steaming supports both the lingam and yoni, it actually benefits the entire pelvic bowl, strengthening all the muscles, tendons, membranes, tissues, and circulation of this area in all genders, so the term “pelvic steaming” is most accurate. For this post, I mostly focus on the benefits of pelvic steaming for women, or those who have wombs.
Interview with Peristeam Hydrotherapist Keli Garza, Owner and founder of Steamy Chick Institute
Earth Intuitive, Author, Teacher, & Herbalist Asia Suler’s Pussy Portal class
Womb Series Podcast Episode interview with Chasca Summerville, Ayurvedic Consultant, author, and Peristeam facilitator, on healing endometriosis
Different ways to set up a steam session