Why I chose to become a Vaginal Steam Facilitator
How scary stories of steam burns on vaginas couldn't keep me away from steaming MY vagina.
In January this year, Steamy Chick came into my life. I don't even remember how. My cycle had been irregular since the previous summer and vaginal steaming sounded like a pleasant way to regulate my cycle and get more in touch with my wombspace. When I googled 'vaginal steaming', most of what came up were very brief recycled articles quoting medical doctors warning against the dangers of vaginal steaming.
I didn't take them seriously.
Not only did I begin my personal steaming practice, I started the Steamy Chick Vaginal Steam Facilitator training course because this modality of care is so accessible, so affordable, so effective, and so beneficial in so many ways.
This modality of care is so accessible, so affordable, so effective and so beneficial in so many ways.
Now I'm a Steamy Chick certified Vaginal Steam Facilitator, and am working on Peristeam Hydrotherapist certification. Just as I'm beginning to launch my business a new round of articles is going viral, about a Canadian woman sustaining burns to her vulva and inner sex organs due to vaginal steaming at home. (We in the steaming community are certainly discussing how this could be possible, and if these news is even factual). Should I be worried about how this could affect my services? Will this scare women away?
I think not.
Why not? Let me count the ways.
1. We do things every day that can potentially burn us. Boiling water, steaming vegetables, ironing clothes, drinking hot coffee or tea, building fires, roasting marshmallows, setting off fireworks, being in the sun too long, sitting in a hot tub, doing a full body sauna, taking food out of the microwave or oven, eating food strait out of the microwave or oven, lighting candles...Etc.
We do these things all the time. Common sense generally prevails when we are handing items that can potentially burn us. Sitting over steam is no exception.
2. Self-inflicted harm in the name of beauty. We humans love adornment, and we are obsessed with youth and 'flawless' bodies. It leads us to do some nonsensical things, because pain is a price worth paying for the perception of beauty.
Piercings, tattoos, waxing, plastic surgery, microdermobrasion, microneedling, botox, skin creams and lotions full of toxins, extreme diets, extreme exercise...you get the idea. Our society considers these acceptable, even admirable, despite the immediate pain some of them cause, or their potential short or long term side effects. All in the name of beauty. All in the interest of looking attractive on the outside. Some treatments don't even work, or aren't sustainable. And while it can be argued that feeling good about how you look can raise confidence, and self-confidence can certainly improve quality of life, this only works if the self-confidence is internal, rather than based on superficial external factors.
And yet, people spend a lot of time and money enduring pain in order to look good. Why would they not invest in something that should be pain free AND makes them feel better from the inside out? (This may or may not be a rhetorical question. We humans are strange and fascinating creatures.)
3. The benefits of vaginal steaming outweigh the risks. Steaming does no harm when done responsibly. It is an easy step to test the heat of the steam with your hand before sitting over it. If it's too hot, turn down the heat or wait for the water to cool. It's also very easy to find a certified Vaginal Steam Facilitator to assess your particular cycle and situation and who can recommend the best steam set-up and herbs for you.
It is, after all, a sauna, and the same precautions and common sense recommendations apply as at any spa with full body saunas. We know to stay hydrated, we know not to stay in too long, we know not to do it when pregnant, or if there are any physical conditions that can be exacerbated by the heat.
So, most of us can benefit from steaming most of the time (Yep. It's not just for people with vulvas and/or wombs). The main reason steaming the perineal area works is because it improves circulation in the body. Better circulation helps the organs function better, helps energy in the body flow better, and this leads to healthier menstrual cycles and all that implies, improved colon health, better sleep, emotional release, improved moods, and so on. Steaming facilitates a completely different level of whole person wellness. It can even resolve gynecological issues that ARE often surgically resolved using burning (ie., LEEP, tubal ligation).
I think that sounds worth taking a second to test the heat before steaming.
4. The feminine is intuitive and wise. You may have forgotten this, or stopped believing it. It's still true. Vaginal steaming has been practiced around the world for thousands of years. Keli Garza, founder of Steamy Chick, has taken great pains to research vaginal steaming and to show this is a universal practice (see her map here).
No matter how many versions of the same fearmongering article about the dangers of vaginal steaming flood the Internet - women instinctively know when the status quo no longer feels right. We inevitably drift towards our grandmothers' home remedies, passed on from generations of grandmothers. Although wise women became an endangered species in alphabet literate cultures, the feminine is making its comeback. The fearmongering, the pressure from allopathic medical practitioners, and - dare I say it - patriarchal societal norms just aren't enough to keep us cowed any longer.
We're using our own internal wisdom to decide on this one.
I'm not worried about my business. I know there are thousands of women like me who want to throw off the mantle of expectations and step into their own skin. Who want bodily autonomy. Who want to do the work to heal themselves from the inside out. Women who want to feel pleasure, who crave sensuality. Women whose intuition and creativity are bursting at the seams. They're only waiting to give themselves permission.
Why am I not worried for my vaginal steaming business? Because women ARE giving themselves permission to do things on their own terms. And they are searching out other feminine mentors and guides to help them forge their own path.
I have total confidence that vaginal steaming is a modality that can help many women find the embodiment they seek.
Some additional comments:
I prefer the term peristeam or pelvic steam, as it is more inclusive. I used vaginal steaming here because it is the term commonly used, as well as the term used in the articles bashing the practice.
"Women" is a gender term. It doesn't refer to a person's sexual organs. The most common users of peristeaming are female bodied people who identify as women (cisgendered). Steaming does have specific benefits for people with a female reproductive system AND it can be used by all people, whatever their combination of sex at birth and gender identity.
That being said, no practice works for all people all the time. There are no silver bullets for healing. It requires a lot of internal work that no healing modality can do for you.
When in doubt, shout it out. Work with a professional and pay them for their services. Not only are you helping yourself and the professional, you are building community. Community is the most valuable asset to all human beings.