The controversial ‘V-steam’ procedure has been championed by Gwyneth Paltrow.
You can’t accuse Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow of a faint heart in her quest for extreme beauty and wellness solutions. She once told the New York Times she had let bees sting her in an attempt “to get rid of inflammation and scarring”, and her wellness empire is known for its controversial recommendations, which are frequently contradicted by doctors and scientists.
Infamous examples include putting jade eggs in your vagina (don’t – it can introduce bacteria and cause toxic shock syndrome), and colonics to “eliminate extra mucus” and remove “toxins” from the body (usually used to aid medical examination, the procedure has no proven benefits, and can cause dehydration, vomiting, bowel rupture and infection). They also linked underwired bras to breast cancer, which was roundly rejected by every expert in the field.
Despite provoking repeated condemnation from medical professionals for playing fast and loose with scientific facts, Goop still has a massive reach – with millions of monthly readers online, plus a print magazine and a wildly expensive events programme. So it’s not really a big surprise that some people believe in the wide-ranging benefits it has assigned to scientifically spurious practices. As one Canadian woman recently discovered, the gamble is really not worth it.
As documented in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, and reported by the New York Post, a 62-year-old Canadian woman ended up being hospitalised with second degree burns after steaming her vagina over a boiling pot of herb-infused water. Twice. The procedures, called ‘V-Steams’, were described in a Goop article about luxury spas. “You sit on what is essentially a mini-throne, and a combination of infrared and mugwort steam cleanses your uterus, et al,” Goop wrote, adding that “It is an energetic release – not just a steam douche – that balances female hormone levels.”
Paltrow has also praised the practice in a number of personal interviews, telling the Cut that V-Steams have “been in Korean medicine for thousands of years and there are real healing properties.” “If I find benefit to it and it’s getting a lot of page views, it’s a win-win,” she added. Website hits aside – and as the Canadian woman with agonising burns found out for herself – there really aren’t any benefits to steaming your vagina. As Dr Ann Robinson wrote in the Guardian, “heating the vagina isn’t necessary; it’s kept at body temperature (37C), which is perfect. Any hotter and unwanted bacteria and yeasts such as candida will proliferate.”
“All of our orifices, including ears, nose, anus and vagina, are essentially self-cleaning,” Dr Robinson adds. However, escaping with a singed minge is a small mercy when compared to the 55-year-old Spanish woman who underwent “bee sting therapy” and died.