A steam for you perineum or vagina should be part of regular self care for all girls and women. It is an ancient tradition common to many cultures. Thanks to midwives and indigenous healers, the practice is becoming more common here in the US. This steam is not a douche. Its purpose is not to clean, because the vagina is not dirty. I love to to do this ritual late at night, under the stars, in my garden.
Possible Benefits -To: 1)Reduce PMS/menstrual pain and cramping. 2)regulate your menstrual cycle. 3)ease transitions related to adolescence, childbearing, or menopause. 4) reduce spotting and heavy periods. 5) “close the womb” and heal the tissues after childbirth. 6)increase circulation and move the stagnation of energy, blood, or waste products. 7)improve fertility 8) treat fibroids, cysts, large menstrual blood clots, prolapse and endometriosis. 9)speed recovery after uterine surgery. 10) improve your sense of wellbeing by opening, relaxing, and releasing things. 11) heal and move on after traumatic events or miscarriage. 12) relieve vaginal dryness, loss of tissue tone , painful intercourse etc. as related to menopause.
Supplies needed: 1) a large bowl, pan, tall pitcher, shallow tub, or bucket. 2)a stool/chair or specially made box. 3)a thick heavy blanket. 4)herbs to infuse.
Techniques: 1) Sit on the special stool/chair/box with a bowl of infusion underneath it. 2) Sit over a suitable heat safe bowl or sitz bath of infusion which is set on the lip/bowl of a clean toilet. 3) Squat over a suitable container (bucket or wide steel bowl)-this is not the most comfortable option.
When:Anytime. You can do weekly when not menstruating.
,Herbs needed: Choose ones that cool, moisten, tighten (high in tannins), rejuvenate, nourish, heal or strengthen the tissues. Other qualities to look for-antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, repairs tissues, increases circulation, improves elasticity, reduces pain or stops bleeding. Red raspberry, chickweed, calendula, yarrow, marshmallow root, rosemary, plantain, lavender and thyme are basic ones to start with. Some people have aster allergies so avoid plants in that family for those individuals.
Instructions: Measure out 1 ounce or 1/4 cup of fresh/dried herb. Fill a large tea ball, clean sock, muslin sack or paper tea bag and secure well. Bring 4-6 cups of water to boil in a large pot. Pour over the herbs and let steep covered with a lid/plate for 10 minutes. Set up your supplies and pour the infusion if needed. Remove all of your clothes or at least the items below the waist. Sit/squat over the infusion for 20 minutes. Relax and enjoy. It is fine to journal, meditate or listen to calming music while you steam. When done compost or dispose of the used. plant material
- Test the water temperature to avoid burns and make sure it is right for you. Handle all metal items with hot pads/mitts to protect your hands.
- Keep your head and feet warm. You can cover your body with a heavy blanket to keep the steam in and induce a “sweat”. Do not allow yourself to get chilled.
- Keep hydrated by drinking warm fluids before and after your steam.
- Remove any genital piercings during the process.
- Do not worry if the first two cycles after steaming are heavier or darker. You are just clearing “stagnation”.
- Keep in mind that herb material can stain grout, white containers and textiles. Clean up well as soon as you are done.
Avoid vaginal steams during-pregnancy, menstruation, with an IUD, if there is active infection, right after sex or infertility/intravaginal treatments when trying to conceive, if you have stitches. Do not use essential oils in your steam formula.
Yarrow/Milfoil is best known for lowering a fever. When I was a midwife I had it as a tincture in my birth kit for minor hemorrhaging The tannins in the plant also make it an excellent wound healer which serves to tighten the tissues and arrest bleeding. It has a history of being used for nosebleeds. bleeding hemorrhoids, and abscesses, Other constituents in the plant help with pain, infection, bringing on a fever/sweat, lowering blood pressure, relaxing muscle spasms, strengthening blood vessels, calming the nervous system, opening pores, “cleaning” the blood, toning/stimulating organs or tissues, building blood and reducing inflammation. Historically this herb has been used to treat colds, flu, allergies, headaches, blood clots, menstrual issues, digestive problems, diarrhea, poor appetite, cramps, gas, bloating, rheumatism, childhood illnesses, toothache, earache and ulcers. A wash of the infusion, a poultice, or compress has been used for wounds, varicose veins, bleeding hemorrhoids, vaginal discharge, acne, blood blisters, bruising, eczema, hair loss, chapped skin, and sore nipples in nursing mothers. Dye can be made from the flowers and the essential oils are used to reduce inflammation when used in skin care products.
Yarrow is found all over the world. It grows easily in gardens, meadows, along the road, in the wild/mountains and wastelands. It prefers full or moderate sun, dry soil and very little water. There are cultivars with very attractively colored flowers and textured leaves. Yarrow, as a companion plant, helps its neighbors to resist disease. The shallow growing rootstock allows this plant to spread quickly and become invasive. The majority of the finely pinnately leaflets (sharply cleft) give the dark green leaves (lance shaped and alternately arranged) the appearance of feathers. These are 3-4 inches long and form dense growth near the ground. The tiny ray flowers (5 petals) are typically white (can be pink or pale purple) with the discs being yellow, fading to brown as they mature. These are arranged in a flat or raised compound corymb at the top of a tall stem (1-3 ft. tall). Often the stalk is fuzzy with small leaves arranged alternately with wide spacing up the stalk.
Parts used: Leaves and flowers
Energetics: bitter, sweet, pungent, cool, dry
Contraindications: allergy to aster/ragweed family. Sensitive individuals may experience dermatitis or sensitivity to sun.