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Vaginal Steaming: Just a Bunch of Hot Air?

Some American women are turning to vaginal steam baths to treat a variety of health problems including stress, infections, hemorrhoids, regulating menstrual cycles and aiding fertility, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Here’s how it works: the female sits naked on a open-seated stool above a boiling pot of mugwort tea, which is blended with wormwood and other herbs. The steam rises and does its magic, or so the Koreans believe, as they have been steaming after their monthly cycles for centuries.

Mugwort has been used in Eastern medicine for years because of its ability to stimulate hormones and keep the uterus healthy. It is also known to fight nausea, fatigue and headaches.

Wormwood is a “cooling herb,” that treats bladder infections, fevers, constipation and induces uterine contractions, among other things in Eastern medicine.

Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of FoxNewsHealth.com, said the idea of vaginal steaming is ludicrous, but one Santa Monica woman has become a believer after becoming pregnant at the age of 45.

Niki Han Schwarz said she had been trying to get pregnant for three years, and after five steams, she had fewer aches and pains, and became pregnant eight months ago.

“There is absolutely no way this has any significant health benefit,” said Alvarez, Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. “The illusion that any hot air infused with some herbal spice would penetrate the vaginal barriers of your body and improve fertility, regulate hormones does not hold any water with me.”

Alvarez said he could see some people using this as a relaxation technique, but there are potential dangers.

“Vaginal irritation is a reality,” he said. “If there is a precancerous condition in the vaginal area, vaginal steaming could exacerbate a potential deadly condition.”

Schwarz said she pays $50 for a 30-minute steam treatment, but one Manhattan spa offers a 30-minute steam for $75.

Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, an OBGYN at Women’s Care of Beverly Hills Medical Group, said it’s “not insane” to steam the pelvic area as the heat could boost circulation and increase blood flow to the area.

"Most of these kinds of treatments are not put through intensive clinical trials, so it becomes challenging to evaluate the actual impact they have," she said.

Click here to read more on this story from the LA Times.