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No evidence steaming your vagina is good for you

A Facebook post claims that “yoni steaming” can heal scar tissue, itching and abnormal discharge in the vagina. 

“Yoni” is a Sanskrit word for the female genitalia and this practice, also known as vaginal steaming, requires a woman to squat over a bowl of hot herb-infused water.

Scar tissue can form in the vagina after an injury, which can happen during childbirth. It can cause the vagina to become narrower and shorter. Vaginal itching and abnormal discharge can be caused by an infection.

(Note: While “vagina” is often used to refer to the female genitalia as a whole, it is, strictly speaking, the muscular tube connecting the cervix to the vulva or external genitalia.)

We spoke to medical experts to check if steam directed towards the vagina could remedy these ailments.


No scientific evidence 

According to Harvard Medical School in the US there is “no scientific evidence to support vaginal steaming”. 

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a professional organisation in the US, told Africa Check that it does not recommend vaginal steaming. It said: “In fact, we do not recommend intervening with the vagina unnecessarily, as that can actually cause complications.”

Dr Tshi Nakanyane, popularly known in South Africa as Dr Naks, is a registrar in obstetrics and gynaecology at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria. He also did not know of any evidence that supported the claim. 

“Steaming could potentially be more harmful than beneficial. It could cause burn injury and the disturbance of the normal vaginal pH which increases the risk of recurrent vaginal infections,” Nakanyane warned.

The UK’s National Health Service does not recommend vaginal steaming to clean the vagina. Instead, it gives straight-forward advice for “keeping your vagina clean and healthy”. 

It says: “It's a good idea to avoid perfumed soaps, gels and antiseptics as these can affect the healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels in the vagina and cause irritation. Use plain, unperfumed soaps to wash the area around the vagina (the vulva) gently every day. The vagina will clean itself inside your body with natural vaginal secretions (discharge).” 

Consult your doctor if you are concerned about vaginal scar tissue, itching or discharge.

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