V is for vagina and V-Spa is a vaginal steam bath.
Bajos. Chai-yok. Yoni steaming.
This is not a New Age fad but a tradition from cultures around the world including Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, and the Maya.
My friend Lisa Levine, a Certified Practitioner of the Arvigo® Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy and I recently tried vaginal steaming at MiGung365 in Singapore and this is my “review” article.
Why Vaginal Steaming?
According to naprapathic physician and teacher of Maya healing Rosita Arvigo, vaginal steam baths are “an old, respected treatment for women used by Maya midwives and healers.” As both a preventative and a treatment, a vaginal steam bath is a home remedy using herbs such as fresh or dried oregano, basil, marigold, and rosemary. Other herbs to consider include burdock leaves, chamomile, dandelion, motherwort, lemon balm, and red clover yarrow. Practitioners use a variety of herbal combinations, for conditions such as fibroids and endometriosis.
The permeability of vaginal walls allows absorption of the herbs’ medicine. The steam also softens the uterine wall to support the gentle removal of accumulations and old stagnant blood.
Health Conditions helped by Vaginal Steaming
The uterus is a woman’s centre, and if it is not in good position and condition, nothing in her life will be right. The periods will be late, early, and painful.
Don Elijio Panti, Maya h’men, traditional healer
Lisa suggests vaginal steaming to her clients for uterine wellness, painful periods, fertility challenges, fibroids, and digestion, to name a few.
According to the book Rainforest Home Remedies, a vaginal steam bath, along with uterine massage, is given as part of postpartum care to clean the uterus and to help it return to its right place. In Maya healing, the correct position of the uterus is key to a woman’s health. Cleansing the uterus is also beneficial for menopausal women, who may experience bleeding afterwards.
Barbara Loomis, also an Arvigo® Massage Therapist, calls vaginal steams pelvic floor steams because “the steam has a relaxing effect on the pelvic floor and warms the pelvic bowl.” 1
For painful periods, Barbara suggests either steaming on the first day of the period if you are spotting or up to three times during the week leading up to your period. She also says that vaginal steaming can act as a “symbolic cleansing to help clear the energy of sexual abuse, rape, past sexual partner or miscarriage.” 1
In the first few months of regular steaming, we can expect to see old dried blood in our menses. Dark brown substance that can look like coffee bean grinds. What we want is bright red aka oxygenated flow. That is one sign of uterine wellness.
How to Make and Enjoy a Vaginal Steam Bath
For the DIY home version, you can use any combo of equipment that is convenient, safe, and comfortable for you, whether it is sitting on two stools, a u-shaped chair, or one that is specifically-made such as the hardwood steaming stool by Phil Reddick.
For herb prescription, timing, and frequency of vaginal steaming, it is important to consult a knowledgeable practitioner from the tradition you are most comfortable with.
Please note not to have a vaginal steam during pregnancy (or when you think you may be pregnant), if you have an infection, if you have an IUD, to name some conditions.
The steams help with hemodynamics in the pelvis, so the body can maintain homeostasis. Fibroids are a cold condition, so the steam combined with the herbs help to soften, and warm the tissues so there is better flow of fluids and energy.
Barbara Loomis, Alignment Monkey
The MiGung Experience
I had first learned about vaginal steaming when I came across an interview with Rosita Arvigo. Lisa had recommended it after my bodywork session with her. I was keen to find an easy alternative to the home version and to the first – uncomfortable and even painful – experience I had at another spa in Singapore.
We booked the last session on a Sunday. The promo included 15 minutes Navi-Spa and 30 minutes V-Spa for $28. Each V-Spa a la carte session is $55. We started our visit with a questionnaire and while the MiGung staff completed it with Lisa, I ticked through it myself to expedite the process. The point is to determine the number of sessions required to treat specific symptoms, and to sell customers packages.
The issue is not with that, but rather their fear-based approach. After calculating the number of sessions for Lisa, the MiGung staff went on to say that without treatment, Lisa’s symptoms can lead to cancer. The staff remained unfazed when I asked how she could make such serious health claims when MiGung is not a medical facility and she is not medically trained, to begin with. She simply repeated her assertion (and the script she learned) in a matter-of-fact tone. For both Lisa and me, this was highly unprofessional and only perpetuates much of the fear-based marketing and awareness building that is already in place.
We were led to the changing room and was informed that because we could not shower after the treatment for two hours, we should first shower. I am not sure if this is optional (i.e. if it’s for hygiene purposes). The irony between their awareness posters about sources of toxins and the toxic personal care products they stocked was not lost on me.
THAT'S WHY I BEGAN THIS PIECE. I WAS WORRIED ABOUT VAGINAS. I WAS WORRIED WHAT WE THINK ABOUT VAGINAS AND I WAS EVEN MORE WORRIED THAT WE DON'T THINK ABOUT THEM. I WAS WORRIED ABOUT MY OWN VAGINA. IT NEEDED A CONTEXT, A COMMUNITY, A CULTURE OF OTHER VAGINAS.
There are two chairs in this treatment room. The chairs give off infrared to boost blood circulation with the tourmaline under the foot pad. The Navi-Spa chair also has wormwood balls beneath the seat. Probably better known for its anti-parasitic action, wormwood also helps stimulate menstruation, digestion, and circulation.
For the session, we were draped in a heavy blanket. While it did get hot and I had to shuffle my feet right to the edge of the foot stool, it was a very relaxing and pleasant experience in the darkened room.
Next up was the “main course.” We were led to a bigger room, with five stations. Each one was essentially a chair with a hole set over a box in which an herbal blend was heated. The steam would rise through the hole and into the “tent” made with our plasticky cape. Initially the steam felt like it was just filling my “tent” and not going into the nether regions. The steam did at some point enter the uterus, as evidenced by the vaginal discharge. Depending on a woman’s uterine wellness, the discharge can vary.
The MiGung staff served us tea that was paired with the essence she chose for us, based on the questionnaire. The teas are Han Tea (warming), Yeol Tea (cooling), Jo Tea (moistening), Seup Tea (Refreshing) and these are paired with Chill Essence, Circulation Essence, Skin Essence, and Pain Essence, respectively. You can find a chart describing these teas and herbal essences in several places at MiGung365.
For the next half hour, we sat steaming ourselves, while a promotional video played, showing TV show snippets from the US and Japan.
The Long and Short of It
Would I recommend MiGung365? Yes, but with a few caveats. There are several disconnects and incongruency in how they run their business, such as with their hygiene protocol. Perhaps the most disappointing is their “consultation.”
MiGung365 is a franchise and the staff was clearly following a script. That script has some serious health claims. This marketing angle is both irresponsible and harmful. There was also no discussion about what to expect to see in the vaginal discharge; perhaps they are not trained for it. What if blood clots were present?
Other things that are concerning – for hygiene purposes and expediency, a non natural material is used as our gown for the steaming. Is the material non toxic? Can the steam unleash toxins? They position vaginal steaming as a method of detoxification and yet…
So with the caveats mentioned, and IF doing this at home is not feasible, then the benefits of doing vaginal steaming at MiGung365 probably outweigh the negatives I have observed. Mainstream science poo poos vaginal steaming but the positive feedback and results are compelling enough to give this a go.
I leave it for you to experience a vaginal steam first-hand and if you experience health challenges such as painful periods, fibroids, or conception difficulties, I would give it a go for a few sessions, as well as seeing an Arvigo® Massage Therapist for bodywork to boost and maintain your uterine well-being.
1 Vaginal Steams by Barbara Loomis, Alignment Monkey
Bajos: Maya Wisdom for Postpartum Care by Mama Glow
Traditional Vagina Steam for Healthy Fertility by Dalene Barton-Schuster, CH, Doula