Have you ever tried doing a yoni steam? Yoni steams (also known as vaginal steam, v-steam, or pelvic steam) have tiptoed their way into mainstream consciousness, largely thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow, but they’re not a new trend. Women were steaming their yonis in ancient times to aid their menstrual cycle and heal from childbirth. So in this article, I’ll explain what a yoni steam is, the herbs you can use when doing one, the benefits and potential side effects, and more.
If you’re curious about v-steaming and want to try it at home, this article will tell you everything you need to know.
What does the word “yoni” mean?
At this point, there are hundreds of slang names for the vagina and female genitals. A few of them are powerful, while most are outright demeaning. Portal. Pussy. Flower. Kitty. Cookie. Hoo-ha. Front bottom.
The list goes on, and they don’t get better.
“Yoni” is the Sanskrit word for your entire lady landscape: your vagina, genitalia, and womb. It translates to “sacred place,” while in ancient Taoist cultures, it was known as the “golden lotus” and the “gates of paradise.”
On the other hand, the word “vagina” refers only to the muscular tube that goes from our genitals to the cervix. It is Latin for “sheath.” As in, the penis is the “sword” that slides into the sheath. Compared to yoni, vagina is a relatively new word.
Language matters. And there’s a reason that words have changed so much over the years. Many of the terms you know today that are used to disrespect women (cunt, hag, crone, witch, bitch) were actually terms of strength and respect in ancient, pre-patriarchal times.
Discovering the word yoni and starting to use it has completely shifted my perspective and transformed my relationship with my body and sex. It’s a powerful word, and it makes me feel powerful.
How does it make you feel?
What is a yoni steam?
Our yonis go through a lot over time. We bleed once a moon for decades of our lives, we have sex, and some of us give birth—several times. Pause for a moment and think about how magnificent the female body is.
But all of this can put a lot of strain and stress on our reproductive organs. Plus, so many women today suffer from hormonal imbalances, irregular menstrual cycles, painful periods, painful or uncomfortable sex, yeast infections, infertility, endometriosis, fertility issues, and more.
A yoni steam is an ancient holistic practice that aims to restore health and balance to your reproductive organs and sacred cycle. It was commonly used after childbirth, miscarriage, abortion, or painful periods to cleanse the vagina and uterus. But there are many emotional and spiritual benefits too—more on that later.
The actual process of a yoni steam involves sitting over a pot of warm water infused with natural herbs. Blankets are placed around your upper torso to keep all the heat and sweat in your lower torso. The idea is the herby steam from the pot rises and cleanses and soothes your vagina, uterus, and pelvis and makes its way further up through your body, leaving you feeling restored on a deep level. A yoni steam can be done in the comfort of your home or in a spa that offers this treatment.
Yoni steam benefits
The reason why yoni steams have become so popular is because women have experienced a ton of benefits on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level, including:
- Cleansing and detoxifying
- Aiding fertility
- Balancing hormones
- Regulating periods
- Maintaining reproductive health and rejuvenating the entire reproductive system
- Soothing period pain
- Reducing dryness and pain during sex
- Increasing libido
- Aiding more intense and frequent orgasms
- Reducing uterine weakness and prolapse
- Relieving yeast infections and UTIs
- Improving depression and anxiety
- Reducing bloating
- Easing fatigue
- Reconnecting to your body, the divine feminine, and sexuality
- Healing the vagina and uterus after birth
- Reducing PCOS
- Reducing endometriosis
- Healing sexual trauma and/or abuse
Are there any drawbacks or side effects to be aware of?
If you research yoni steaming and end up on a medical-based website, you’ll probably be met with someone in the medical field arguing there are no proven benefits and that vaginal steaming is dangerous.
The problem with almost every holistic approach is that it isn’t deemed credible by science or medicine, mostly because they lack knowledge of ancient practices like these. Instead of looking into them, they dismiss them as “new-age” or “nonsense,” which is a dismissal of ancient feminine wisdom. They make women feel stupid for even entertaining such an idea. And this makes us doubt ourselves even more than we already do.
Surely dabbling in natural, holistic practices and remedies is worth a try before immediately resorting to pill-popping, which has its own plethora of side effects that doctors never tell you about. But of course, the pharmaceutical industry is worth billions of dollars, so they continue to push the drugs and convince us this is the only thing that can heal us. Medicine has its place, but long before it became industrialized, medicine belonged to women (that’s where the term “medicine woman” originated). And it always leaned on natural remedies like plants and herbs.
But there are some valid concerns about yoni steaming which I want to talk about.
1. The idea that your vagina is dirty and needs cleaning
Yoni steams have started to be marketed to reinforce the idea that women’s vaginas are dirty, smelly, and gross. They repackage inexpensive ingredients and sell you expensive shit (often with added chemicals) that you don’t need and manipulate you into buying it because “vaginas are dirty.”
Fuck that. Your natural odor is just that—natural. And discharge is normal. And vaginas are self-cleaning—that’s how amazing they are. Penises don’t clean themselves.
You don’t need to yoni steam. Only do it if you want to do it.
2. Vulvovaginal burns
Don’t go too hot with your yoni steam. There is a risk of burning yourself if you do. The steam should feel comfortably warm, not hot. Always test it with your hand first.
What herbs can you yoni steam with?
There are so many herbs you can yoni steam with, each of which has its own unique benefits and properties. Organically grown herbs are always preferred—and in your garden is ideal! But we aren’t all green witches, so there’s no harm in purchasing your herbs as long as they’re grown and harvested with care. You’ll also find ready-made blends online which combine two or more herbs.
Here are some of the most popular herbs to yoni steam with:
- Basil (cleansing)
- Lavender (anti-septic and anti-bacterial)
- Rosemary (anti-septic and helps circulate and stimulate fluids)
- Lemon balm (anti-viral and relieves itchiness)
- Calendula (soothing and great for easing cramps)
- Chamomile (relieves period cramps, tension, and pain)
- Peppermint (stimulates and energizes)
- Motherwort (cleansing and pain relieving)
- Marigold (anti-inflammatory)
- Thyme (anti-bacterial and anti-microbial)
- Dandelion (improves endocrine and reproductive health)
- Mugwort (an all-purpose yoni steam herb)
- Yarrow (fights infections and repairs wounds)
- Uva ursi (great for UTIs and other infections)
Mix and match however you like, depending on what you need most.
How do you do a yoni steam at home? (5 simple steps)
1. Create a quiet, comfortable, private space
You’ll want to be somewhere peaceful where you won’t get disturbed. The bathroom, bedroom, or a yoga/meditation space is perfect.
Set up your chair where there’s plenty of room (make sure it’s clean). Gather some spare towels or blankets to drape around your torso while you steam. You might want to prop a pillow or cushion behind you and lay a towel on top of the chair for more comfort. Light some candles or burn some of your favorite incense.
Check Spotify for peaceful spa playlists to play softly in the background—this always makes me feel like I’m having a luxurious pampering session somewhere super fancy!
2. Steep your yoni steam herbs
Bring a large pot of fresh water to boil with a lid on—you’ll want around 12 cups (three liters). Once it comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer, and add in one packed cup of your chosen herb blend.
Simmer the mixture for 5-10 minutes, then remove it from the heat and let it steep for a further 10 minutes.
Make sure you keep the lid on the whole time; otherwise, the steam and herby goodness will escape.
3. Set your intention
While your yoni steam medicine is steeping, take some time to sit in peace. Think about what you’re grateful for, your intention for this yoni steam, and ask for any healing or support you need.
This is a wonderful way to ritualize the experience and focus on whatever you want to call in.
4. Sit and steam
Now it’s steaming time!
Remove the lid, carefully move your pot, and place it inside your open-seated chair. Check the temperature is comfortable when reaching your yoni. Remember, it should be warm but not hot. Comfort is key.
Next, sit down and get comfy. Drape your towels around you to create a make-shift sweat lodge from the waist down—the same way you do around your face when inhaling vix for a cold or chest infection. Anytime you need some fresh air, just open it up.
If you’re new to steaming, sit for around 10 minutes. It’s recommended that you steam for 10-30 minutes, but no longer than this. Trust yourself and your body.
Be sure to clean up any equipment you’ve used each time thoroughly.
It can be lovely to do a yoni steam right before bed so you can lay down and go to sleep straight after feeling totally refreshed and relaxed. But if you’re doing it in the middle of the day, give yourself at least 10 minutes to rest and enjoy the effects of your experience.
Extra tips for doing a DIY yoni steam with herbs
- If you don’t want to spend money on a premium yoni steam chair, make your own by cutting a hole into an existing chair, stool, or wooden plank
- Steam any time apart from when: you’re bleeding, trying to conceive, pregnant, or you’ve got an IUD
- Don’t steam if you have any active internal infections combined with a fever
- Avoid steaming if you have any external open sores
- Don’t ever exceed 30 minutes (this is important)
- Talk to a yoni steam expert before trying it for the first time
How often should I steam my yoni?
This will be different for every woman. If you suffer every moon from painful periods, bloating, or other hormonal issues, steaming once a week can be beneficial.
If you’re fairly healthy, have a regular cycle, and aren’t experiencing any reproductive issues, doing a yoni steam once a season (four times a year) is plenty. It can be lovely to organize these during festivals of the wheel, such as the equinoxes and solstices or Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain.
Some women also love to do a yoni steam at the end of their bleeding each moon to flush out any remaining fluids.
Yoni steams are traditionally done a few times after a woman gives birth (Mayan midwives say within the first nine days of the delivery is most beneficial). They can also be done after a miscarriage after your bleeding has stopped.
Steaming a few times a year can be good for women going through the peri-menopause, menopause, or post-menopausal, as this can soothe dryness and discomfort.
Yoni steams can also be a way to heal after the end of a breakup with a sexual partner or after experiencing any form of sexual trauma. You’re sending love and positive energy to this sacred area, and this can help you create a symbolic fresh start and open you to whatever comes next.
What to expect after a yoni steam
It’s totally normal to release some fluid discharge after a yoni steam. Clear, white, cream or brownish discharge is normal and should not have a strong odor. The amount and consistency will vary depending on your personal circumstances, where you are in your cycle, and what’s normal for you.
If there’s an unpleasant smell or unusual color to your discharge, or you notice a rash, pain, or irritation, you may have an infection, and it’s important to seek out a medical practitioner that you trust.
A final note
If the idea of doing a yoni steam sounds intriguing and appealing but a little bit daunting, speak to a midwife, herbalist, or doula you feel comfortable with. There are so many highly knowledgeable, skilled, and trained women who are well-versed in holistic medicine and practices and can guide you through this experience and give you the extra reassurance and support you need every step of the way.
Have you ever done a yoni steam with herbs at home? Or are you feeling inspired to give it a go? Share your thoughts and questions with me in the comments below.