It’s common for women to get facial steams in order to relax and rejuvenate their skin, but now a controversial treatment called the V-Steam claims to provide similar benefits for a woman’s reproductive parts.
Offered at The YinOva Center in New York City, the V-Steam is touted as a treatment for women suffering from a variety of gynecological issues, ranging from endometriosis to menstrual cramps and yeast infections.
"It cleanses and tones and nourishes the vagina, the cervix and the uterus,” said Jill Blakeway, clinical director at The YinOva Center. “I like to think of it as a detox for your female anatomy."
Blakeway said that when used in conjunction with acupuncture and Chinese herbs, the treatment has even helped some women struggling with infertility, as well as those undergoing IVF treatments.
“The way the V-Steam sort of fits in is that it promotes blood circulation, and good blood circulation to the uterus is good for implantation,” Blakeway said. “It's also a very pH-balancing and anti-microbial treatment, and infections and inflammation are impediments to fertility, so from that point of view it's a good thing.”
However, Dr. Manny Alvarez, the chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, and senior managing editor at FoxNewsHealth.com, said that the treatment doesn’t have any real health benefits – and could be risky.
“I question the use because… for years we know (things) like douching (were) problematic,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez asserted that putting steam into the pelvic area could only lead to problems.
“We don't know what (the) long term effects are going to be with cellular changes in especially the vaginal mucosa,” Alvarez said. “We don't know what the propensity is to develop a vaginal infection or sub-clinical infection."
However, some patients praise the V-Steam as being both relaxing and effective. Jill Myers, 30, decided to try the V-Steam to help manage her heavy, painful menstrual cycles and said she noticed a difference afterwards.
"I did feel immediate relief even after having the steam,” Myers said. “And leading up to that cycle I had fewer PMS symptoms."
During the treatment, a massage therapist will chose an assortment of herbs such as basil, which Blakeway claims is an antimicrobial, or rosemary, which she says is useful against yeast.
“You sit over the steamer, and the massage therapist massages your neck and shoulders. And so it's a very warm, cozy relaxing treatment,” Blakeway said.
Patients are also wrapped in a blanket throughout the procedure in order to keep the steam from escaping.
Blakeway, who maintains that the treatment is safe, admits that it shouldn’t be looked at as a cure for infertility.
“It's much more an adjunctive treatment,” Blakeway said. “It can be helpful in the same way that steaming your sinuses is helpful."
However, despite the hype surrounding the V-Steam, Alvarez isn’t convinced.
“It may be relaxing for some, but from a health perspective, it's a big zero for me,” Alvarez said.
Women should speak with their physicians before undergoing a treatment like the V-Steam or any other alternative therapy.
For more information about the V-Steam, visit YinovaCenter.com.