Gwyneth Paltrow recently appeared on "The Late Late Show with James Corden" to help publicize the launch of Goop Magazine, which also reignited talk around one of her most controversial Goop recommendations yet: vaginal steaming.
"Hi, James. Just wanted to stop by," Paltrow said during a tongue-in-cheek sketch that poked fun at the actress's health lifestyle website. "James, I mean, to be fair, I think you’re being a little harsh. There are a lot of people that listen to the advice that we give in Goop."
To prove her point, the lifestyle guru showed members of Corden's crew who had embraced Goop-y practices such as cupping, grounding, and vaginal steaming.
"Doesn't vaginal steaming require that, you know, have a certain part of the body that you don't have?" Corden asked his mic guy, Ian.
"Doesn't matter, feels amazing!" Ian joked, while sitting on a steaming box with a towel covering his legs.
In the end, Corden became a "convert" of vaginal steaming, trying the practice himself onstage to big laughs.
As much as you might love the audaciousness of Corden, you're not alone if you're second guessing sitting on a mini-throne of steam yourself. Questions surrounding vaginal steaming still remain after Paltrow first preached its importance on her website.
"The real golden ticket here is the Mugworth V-Steam," she said about the vaginal steaming service available at Santa Monica's Tikkun Holistic Spa. "You sit on what is essentially a mini-throne, and a combination of infrared and mugwort steam cleanses your uterus, et al."
The Oscar winner added, "It is an energetic release — not just a steam douche — that balances female hormone levels. If you’re in L.A., you have to do it."
Whether you're in L.A. or not, do women really have to do it?
What is Vaginal Steaming?
Vaginal steaming is an ancient herbal treatment that's been used by traditional healers across the globe, including everywhere from Belize to Korea, to help women with chronic fertility issues, as well as to maintain healthy fertility.
Using a combination of specific herbs related to her condition, a woman sits on a bench (or a mini-throne, if you're Paltrow) where the steam will come close to the vagina, labia and other parts of the genitalia. The steam opens the pores of the tissues, which absorb the healing herbs, transferring them through the bloodstream and into the reproductive system.
In addition to increasing fertility and healing the body post-partum, vaginal steaming has been known to eliminate menstrual cramps, help regulate menstrual cycles, treat chronic vaginal infections, heal hemorrhoids, and relieve symptoms of menopause.
Dr. Elizabeth Trattner, a doctor of integrative and Chinese medicine based in Miami, tells Organic Authority that she likens vaginal steaming to moxa, a traditional Chinese medicine practice which consists of burning dried mugwort (moxa) on particular points on the body.
"They are most popular with women who have recently had children," says Dr. Trattner. "This helps a mother build her body back up, and in China, a new mother will receive moxa twice a day for a month to rebuild her body after childbirth."
She says vaginal steaming is used to "create the same effect as moxa...It is excellent to treat prolapses, cramps, post-partum (after 6-8 weeks) and other reproductive issues."
"I am not too sure how much I value or respect a celebrity touting the value of a type of medicine and treatment she has no training in and extolling its virtues to the world," says Dr. Trattner.
She cautions that, if not performed correctly, steaming can burn a patient’s delicate tissue, and that a practitioner needs to do "a health intake as conditions like herpes or other active infections may need other courses of treatment first prior to V steaming."
Other critics say that heating the vagina isn’t even necessary because it's already being kept at the perfect body temperature. Making your vagina any hotter would only create unwanted itchiness and an increase of bacteria, including yeasts such as candida. Additionally, since the vagina is already essentially self-cleaning, its natural pH levels help to protect outside bugs from travelling through it to the fallopian tubes, making V steaming basically moot.
If you're curious to try vaginal steaming, by all means embrace your inner Goop goddess and do so. However, before you book your appointment, you might want to heed Dr. Trattner's words of wisdom: "Many women flock to a celebrity touted phenomena just to try it for no other reason than to try it [without] understanding its valuable connection to health and wellbeing," she says.
"V steaming is not the same as getting a pedicure with your friends. It is a personal tool used for health. V steaming is a viable treatment but a practitioner needs to know when it is appropriate and when it is not."
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