MASERU – Far from being science-based, vaginal steaming which is popular for relieving period pains and other ailments related to the female reproductive system comes with a number of positive and negative side effects.
Yoni steaming also known as vaginal steaming and herb steaming is an ancient healing practice that involves straddling a pot of hot herb water basically tea with herbs like rosemary, basil, mugwort, and wormwood, red clover, saw palmetto and wild yam for up to an hour. Women who cannot afford the Yoni steaming herbs use their own home made remedy of hot water, salt, onion and garlic.
The practice has recently made news due to celebrity reports that tout a variety of benefits, such as relieving period discomfort, to improving fertility, balances hormones, drains cysts/fibroids, miscarriage recovery, eliminates odors, moisturizes and tightens cavities, reduces heavy menstruation, treats endometriosis and balances ph.
However, there is no scientific evidence to prove that vaginal steaming works. No research studies have tested vaginal steaming or its benefits. There are also a lot of dangers involved in vaginal steaming, especially burning very delicate tissues, allergies and infection.
’Malenkoe Tukula who sells Yoni steaming herbs says the sales are very good because of high demand, a lot of people have given testimonies about how well the herbs work. This is why people come in large numbers after hearing such testimonies “my clients keep thanking me and telling me that they have seen changes after using them,” she says. One regular user of yoni steaming herbs who refused to be identified says she experienced some unpleasant smell, but after steaming with yoni steaming herbs for a week she smells fresh and feels free.
“The herbs have helped me with my fibroids, I have no more pain, no more heavy periods, and now I am in the process of selling them,” she says. But retailing at M180 a box on the streets, these herbs are not cheap, especially now after many people’s incomes and livelihoods have been disrupted by Covid-19 lockdowns. This is why those who cannot afford the yoni steaming herbs resort to their own home made remedy of hot water, salt, onion and garlic which they say equally works wonders.
“My friend gave me this remedy after struggling with yeast infection and menstrual pains for years, so I went home to try it. At first I did not trust it, but after using it for three days my yeast infection was reduced and every time when I am about to go on my periods I steam and I do not experience pains,” says a 39-year-old woman who works at the Thetsane textile workers while flatly refused to be identified.
A pharmacist who works along Kingsway in Maseru said the issue of steaming with herbs is an old practise in Basotho culture and even though it is not scientifically it seems to work for many people. However, he said he was not sure about the other practise used by those who cannot afford the herbs.
“The only thing I am not sure of is this one of salt, onion and garlic, but if it works for them then I do not see any harm. The only thing I can advise is for them to not over do it.” Other experts say if vaginal steaming equipment is not kept clean, a person could also be at risk of infections and other side effects. Therefore, it is essential to clean all equipment thoroughly before using it.
Vaginal steaming can be dangerous if a woman is pregnant. This is because the vaginal steam could affect the growing fetus. Doctors generally recommend that pregnant women avoid using hot tubs, saunas, and heating pads around the pelvis for the same reason.
However, in all cases if a person does try vaginal steaming, it is essential to avoid getting too close to the steam or using water that is too hot. If the steam feels uncomfortable or as if it is getting too hot, a person should move away from the steam. Women who are trying to restore pH balance to their vagina due to frequent infections should see their doctor before they try vaginal steaming.