We speak with vaginal steaming expert, educator, and author Keli Garza of Steamy Chick about this controversial holistic self-care practice.
As someone prone to pH imbalances, I’ve spent countless hours researching at-home remedies. Yogurt tampons, alkaline water, apple cider vinegar baths… I thought I’d heard them all, but then came vaginal steaming.
Perhaps you heard of it when Gwyneth Paltrow famously endorsed it. Conversely, maybe you read the slough of articles denouncing it in the aftermath. Still, with so many testimonials by satisfied customers, I ordered a set of herbal satchels and emailed the founder and owner of Steamy Chick, Keli Garza, to learn more about vaginal steaming.
What Is Vaginal Steaming?
“Vaginal steaming is a practice in which a woman sits over a pot of steaming herbs,” Keli says. The origins of vaginal steaming come from traditional practices in Central America, Africa, and Asia. Supporters of vaginal steaming believe it has cleansing and balancing benefits.
REported Benefits of Vaginal Steaming
To be clear, most OB-GYNs are not supportive of vaginal steaming. There is no research and the vagina is considered to be naturally self-cleaning without the need for steam. As with most things, we recommend consulting with your doctor and doing your own research.
However, the reported benefits of vaginal steaming include:
- supporting fertility
- managing vaginal pH imbalances
- relieving cramps and other PMS symptoms
- encouraging more regular periods
- improving libido
- postpartum health
- many other gynecological conditions
Keli says she has seen all of these improvements in her work with hundreds of clients.
Vaginal Steaming Q&A with Keli Garza of Steamy Chick
Here Keli answers all of our questions about vaginal steaming including how she got started and the results she’s seen with clients.
What was your introduction to vaginal steaming?
“I happened upon a spiritual womb healer Marcia Lopez,” Keli says. “She told me that it was a traditional practice in Guatemala. Though I wasn’t interested at the time, I decided to give it a try the following year when I missed my period. I found a Korean spa that had the service and gave it a go. When my period returned the morning after steaming, I was pretty impressed.
“During the steam session, I learned that it’s a common practice in South Korea for women to steam once a month when their periods end. It’s a preventative practice that helps to clean out any left over residue. Since I’d personally seen several positive results, I decided to implement vaginal steaming as a monthly preventative health care practice.”
Starting a Vaginal Steaming Business
After experiencing positive results, Keli was eager to continue with steaming. However, the spa she visited was two hours away so she explored home setup options.
“I searched the internet and couldn’t find any vaginal steam saunas for purchase,” she says. “Consequently, I made my own. After friends learned about it and spread the word, women started to contact me from all over. They asked if I could make them their own vaginal-steam sauna.” And so, Steamy Chick was born.
“At the time, it was the first and only company that made vaginal-steam saunas in the United States,” she says. “Now we ship over thirty saunas per month throughout the US and Canada. Due to demand, we’ll be opening a branch in Europe.”
What results have you seen with clients?
“I’ve worked with over 600 women and the case studies are astounding,” Keli shares. She’s seen successful pregnancies, alleviated PMS symptoms, and a wide range of gynecological conditions improved.
“As a result, I’m working on publishing a report of all of these case studies,” she shares. “In the meantime, you can read about some of the results on the Steamy Chick blog.”
Can you speak to the controversy around this practice?
“Case study evidence shows that the practice has its own merit,” Keli affirms. “I’m hoping more doctors familiarize themselves with the practice. I already have several doctors as customers and they’ve been pleasantly surprised with the results. She hopes it becomes a more common practice and gains support from doctors.
How To Try VAginal Steaming
Interested in trying it yourself? Again, we recommend consulting with your doctor and doing your own research about whether it’s safe for you. That said, vaginal steaming has become more popular as an offering at some spas.
Keli recommends getting a vaginal-steam sauna for home use. “Every household with women should have one to use at the end of each period, and in case cramps or other issues arise,” she says.
Finally, for a simple DIY set-up at home, you can order up some Steamy Chick herbs and try the following:
- Add 1-2 liters of water to a pot on the stove.
- Add any herbs and cover. Cook on medium heat for ten minutes.
- Place the pot on the floor. (Don’t forget to protect your floor by placing a towel, rug, or pot holder beneath the pot.)
- Very carefully kneel over the pot with one knee on the floor on either side of the pot.
(Keli also has these instructions with images on her website.)
As with any new practices, we recommend consulting with your doctor. Many medical experts have expressed that the vagina does not require cleansing practices and that exposure to high heat may even have adverse side effects.
Keli herself does not recommend vaginal steaming for people while they are on their period, pregnant, or experiencing hot flashes. She also recommends shorter steam times for those with an IUD or vaginal imbalances.
As always, be sure to do your own research! For those who are still curious, you can search for vaginal steaming offerings at a spa near you.