Claim: A Facebook user wrote that boiling scent leaves and salt could be used to treat fibroids, vaginal odour, and menstrual pains.
Verdict: False! There is no scientific evidence to back up the claim. Gynaecologists do not support vaginal steaming.
Menstrual cramps are throbbing, aching cramps people get in their lower belly just before and during their period. Cramps can range from mild to severe. Many times, women seek to relieve the pain.
Muhammad on Facebook wrote that ladies should sit over a bowl of hot water and put in scent leaves and salt to reduce fibroids, toilet infections, fat belly, and menstrual pains. He explained the steaming process, noting that it should be done after the monthly menstrual flow. He suggested that ladies sit over it so it can penetrate deeply.
The claim has garnered 1,024 shares, 402 likes, and several comments since this report was filled.
We decided to fact-check it for public health safety.
What is vaginal steaming?
The vagina is a stretchy, muscular canal that’s an integral part of your reproductive anatomy. Vaginal steaming is rumoured to be a natural remedy said to cleanse the vagina and uterus, regulate menstruation, and ease period cramps and bloating. However, the vagina is a self-cleaning organ that regularly maintains a pH balance. Additional interventions, such as vaginal steaming or douching, are not necessary to maintain vaginal health.
Keeping the vagina clean, dry, and free of perfumes is the best way to keep the vagina healthy. Therefore, women should not try vaginal steaming.
Vaginal steaming may disrupt the natural pH produced by the vaginal microbiome, thus providing an ideal environment for bacteria that cause vaginal infections to thrive. It may also increase the risk of vaginal infection by altering the vaginal bacteria ecosystem.
The vaginal skin is delicate, sensitive, and easily traumatised. Using it as target practice for a plume of warm steam may cause vaginal burns or scalding. That’s not to say some herbs can’t improve reproductive health, but there’s no evidence steaming them into your vagina does so.
Gwyneth Paltrow, a gynaecologist, explained that the vagina (and uterus and vulva, for that matter) should be viewed as self-cleaning ovens. The upper and lower reproductive tracts have intricate mechanisms for regulating local health.
She further said that 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. She concluded by stating that the best way to relax the vagina is through an orgasm.
Dr Sesan Oluwasola, an obstetrician at the University College Hospital in Southern Nigeria, told AFP Fact Check that vaginal steaming is not something he would recommend. Mr Oluwasola said the practice leads to the “destruction of the normal biological flora” of the vagina and could cause burns and injury. “When the burnt area heals, it can lead to vaginal stenosis (narrowing),” he added.
Talia Crawford, Obstetrics and Gynecology, advised that vaginal steaming can be dangerous. This is because the skin of your vulva is very delicate and could sustain burns. She also says exposing your vagina to steam and scented herbs could alter its pH and cause bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections.
“For the vagina to stay healthy, it must maintain a balance of good and bad bacteria,” Dr. Crawford said. “For this reason, cleaning it with soap, douching, or introducing scented products is not recommended. Just use water.”
She also noted that people with vaginal pain, odour, or discharge should talk to a health expert for advice on how to be treated.
Experts do not support vaginal steaming as it poses more harm to the body. Instead of vaginal steaming, experts say to wash the vagina only with water and see doctors for professional help in the case of illness.