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I Got My Vagina Steamed To Ease My Period Cramps And My Life Is Forever Changed

Thank you, Eastern wellness.

Hey y'all! I'm Essence, beauty editor here at BuzzFeed, and I recently got my vagina steamed.

View this video on YouTube

DeLisa Shannon / BuzzFeed / Via youtube.com

In case you're wondering what prompted my curiosity around warm steam being released into my vag, two words: Gwyneth. Paltrow. On her lifestyle site Goop, Paltrow reveals that the "golden ticket" treatment at Santa Monica spa Tikkun is the Mugwort V-Steam.

"Mugwort leaves and flower buds are boiled and steamed and applied to a specific area of the body (perineum) for detoxification," according to Tikkun's website. "The steam from the Mugwort is then absorbed into the body through the pores of the skin, most strongly effecting the site of absorption."

V-steams have actually been apart of Eastern wellness for hundreds of years and are said to have a lot of benefits, like detoxing vaginal infections and easing menstrual cramps. My period cramps seem to get worse with age, so any possible natural remedy automatically peaks my interest. And I know birth control is a popular treatment for them here in the U.S., but several women in my life have suffered everything from mood swings to fibroids because of their B.C. so I've never wanted to try it.

DeLisa Shannon / BuzzFeed / Via youtube.com

I of course did a lot of research before committing to steam being released into my body, and I found that many Western doctors advise against it because there hasn't been much research in Western medicine around its safety or effectiveness. Some doctors, like Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of ob-gyn at Yale School of Medicine, have brought up infections and burning from the steam as potential risks. According to Women's Health, Minkin thinks "[vaginal steaming is] complete bull" despite its centuries-long practice in other cultures. "My first concern is that someone would burn themselves because steam is hot," she told the mag.

There are, however, some western doctors and wellness practitioners who are advocates of v-steaming. In another article on The Guardian, Katinka Locascio, founder of Earth & Sky Healing Arts in New York, wrote that "just because you haven’t heard of something in Western culture before doesn’t make it automatically suspect." She said that there are a lot of misconceptions around the practice, and that "v-steams are not a form of douching" and that steam is not "super-heated" or "forced" into the uterus. In the same article, Dr. Rebecca Cohen, who practices family medicine and obstetrics, said she also includes v-steaming to treat patients for varying concerns, like fertility support, vaginal dryness, and menstrual irregularities. Cohen said, "I believe that they are safe when used correctly and can be a helpful adjunct to conventional medical therapies."

I was pumped to give the holistic Korean treatment, originally called chai-yok, a try! I booked an appointment at Bloomfield Wax and Skin Care Center in Bloomfield, NJ, because the reviews were great and the spa looked super clean. The treatment is 20 - 45 minutes, depending on your consultation, and costs $45.

This is the owner Mel and me!Before starting my treatment, I chatted with a regular client in the waiting area to get the unbiased thoughts of someone who wasn't a doctor or wellness professional. She was also there for a steam and said that her menstrual cycles used to be so painful, that she'd often vomit and have to call out of work. Ever since she discovered the treatment, though, her menstrual pain had significantly declined. She swore by it and said it changed her life.
@theessenceof_ / Via instagram.com

This is the owner Mel and me!

Before starting my treatment, I chatted with a regular client in the waiting area to get the unbiased thoughts of someone who wasn't a doctor or wellness professional. She was also there for a steam and said that her menstrual cycles used to be so painful, that she'd often vomit and have to call out of work. Ever since she discovered the treatment, though, her menstrual pain had significantly declined. She swore by it and said it changed her life.

The spa owner Mel took me back to the private room to administer my v-steam. She first gave me a consultation to determine which herbs would best suit menstrual cramping, as my period would be coming on in about two weeks. She mixed mugwort, camomile, calendula, and rosemary into the steam pot.

DeLisa Shannon / BuzzFeed / Via youtube.com

That blue thing is a sanitary cover so my bare derriere wasn't on the actual seat.

She left me to get undressed from the waist down and put on the softest robe ever and this big blanket-towel skirt thingy. I sat my anxious tushy down on the sanitary cover, legs wide apart so that my vag was right over the opening and the pot. Since I was a V-steamed virgin, she started me off on medium so that the heat wouldn't be too much of a shock.

DeLisa Shannon / BuzzFeed / Via youtube.com

It wasn't long after she cut on the heat that I started to feel the warm steam rising into my lady parts. When I tell y'all, it was UH-FRIGGIN-MAZIIIIIING! I felt so at ease and swadled in what I imagine Black Jesus's warm, pleasant-smelling breath to feel like.

DeLisa Shannon / BuzzFeed / Via youtube.com

About 20 minutes in I asked Mel to cut up the heat because I wanted to feel how hot things could get, and the heat got REAL! It didn't feel like I was being burned or anything, though. To try and cool things down a bit, I opened the towel-skirt thingamajig, and woof, a visible trail of steam rose up into the air. I went back to the medium setting because it was more comfortable for me.

DeLisa Shannon / BuzzFeed / Via youtube.com

After about 30 minutes of being on the pot, my time had come to an end and I felt so relaxed.

DeLisa Shannon / BuzzFeed / Via youtube.com

But the real test would be when my period came on. About a week before it comes on my symptoms start: lower back pain, cramping in my uterus, and aching tits. The symptoms continue throughout the week of my period, which super sucks because it feels like my period is actually on for two weeks. SCREW. YOU. SATAN.

Netflix / Via giphy.com

I can always tell a day or two before when it's about to come on because the cramping really kicks up towards the end of the leading week. This time, however, I didn't have my usual cramping or lower back pain. I'm so used to cramps telling me that the massacre (it's SO heavy, so that's what I've appropriately nicknamed it) is a comin', and when I didn't have any, I forgot that it was on its way. Literally the only reason I remembered is because I have a period tracking app on my phone.

I was so shook, that I def crossed some co-worker boundaries to text Patrice, my fellow BF beauty writer, and Delisa, the BF video producer who shot my v-steam, how I didn't have any cramps.
Essence Gant

I was so shook, that I def crossed some co-worker boundaries to text Patrice, my fellow BF beauty writer, and Delisa, the BF video producer who shot my v-steam, how I didn't have any cramps.

I thought for sure that the week of my period I'd get some cramps, but still nothing. The only symptoms I experienced were tender boobs and a little sadness one day, probably because a squirrel stole another squirrel's acorn. Who knows? But even my mood wasn't as up and down this time. I don't know if the steam helped with that, too, or if I was just happier overall because my stomach didn't feel like it was on fire.

DeLisa Shannon / BuzzFeed / Via youtube.com

So would I do this again? ABSOLUTELY! I actually made an appointment with the same spa to get another v-steam, and this one isn't free so you know I'm a real fan. If you're looking for a more holistic treatment to vaginal and uterine issues, or if you just want a relaxing way to destress, I'd without a doubt recommend trying it.

DeLisa Shannon / BuzzFeed / Via youtube.com

If you do give it a go, I recommend picking a spa with lots of good reviews, and also going somewhere that does a thorough consultation to see if steaming is a good option for you. And it should go without saying, but make sure the spa is super clean, no matter what service you're getting done.

Just so you know, Bloomfield Wax and Skin Care Center provided the service free of charge. BuzzFeed did not, however, get paid for covering the spa, and we were not required to feature the experience on any of our platforms in exchange for the service.

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