Vaginal steams (bajos, in Spanish) have a long history of use by traditional healers in various parts of the world, especially in Korea and Central America. Their popularity has been steadily growing in the West, and for good reason – vaginal steams are very beneficial for a wide variety of conditions, from painful menstrual cramps to infertility. They can help the uterus empty itself more completely, dredging out old tissue & blood that may have been there for months or even years. Vaginal steams are easy enough to do on your own at home, with herbs that are generally easy to find. I have used vaginal steams myself many times and am always very impressed with the positive effects of this natural healing method. I also include them regularly in the healing protocols I prepare for my clients.
The process is simple. A big pot of tea is prepared and placed under a chair. You sit on the chair, naked from the waist down, with your legs slightly open, so that the steam from the pot of tea will come up to your genitals. The steam will carry the medicinal benefits and volatile oils of the plants to the mucus membranes, which will readily absorb them into your blood stream. This will have a healing effect on both your external and internal organs. You can achieve different actions based on the herbs that you use in the tea, and the heat from the steam itself has a healing, warming effect on the womb.
Instructions to prepare a vaginal steam
Before preparing the herbs, you will want to chose which chair you will be sitting on. You can use a regular wooden chair, or use a specially modified chair that has a hole in it to allow the steam to pass through. Next, chose a location that is quiet and private, where you can sit uninterrupted for 30 minutes. Pick out 2 warm blankets that you will use to cover yourself during the steam. Also place a small towel on the floor where you will be setting down the hot pot of herbs.
To prepare the tea, bring about 1 gallon of water to a boil in a big pot. Turn off the heat, and add the herbs into the pot. Only use fresh or dried herbs for your vaginal steam, never add essential oils! You want to use about 1 cup of dried herbs for 1 gallon of water. If you are planning to use 3 herbs for your steam, you would use approximately 1/3 cup of each. Mix the herbs into the water, making sure they are submerged, and cover with a lid immediately. Allow the herbs to steep for 5 to 10 minutes maximum, then carry your pot over to your designated location, while still covered.
Get naked from the waist down, but keep some warm socks on. Staying warm during the steam is important. You may even start to sweat, and that’s a good thing! Place the pot underneath the chair, uncover it, and sit above it on your chair. Test the warmth of the steam to make sure it isn’t too hot for you. You can always wait a few minutes if it feels too hot. If the steam feels good, go ahead and sit down, wrap your lower body with a big blanket, so that you are creating a little steam room with the pot in the middle. Make sure there are no gaps anywhere, that the blanket touches the ground and doesn’t go in the pot. Use the second blanket to cover your upper body. Sit and enjoy your steam for 20-30 minutes, relaxing, listening to music, reading, or meditating.
If you feel dizzy or light headed at any point while doing a steam, uncover yourself to cool down a bit. If dizziness persists, remove the blankets and pull out the pot from underneath you. Inducing sweating can aid in the process, but you can do a steam with only your lower body covered if you do not wish to get overheated. It is important, however, not to do a vaginal steam in a cold room or near cold drafts.
Please note that your bleeding time may be slightly different following vaginal steams – bleeding could be heavier, there could be more clots in your blood, or your blood could be thicker, almost like dark syrup. Do not be alarmed, this is normal, and is a good reaction to the cleansing effects of the steam. It is also possible for your blood to come a day or two early if you have done steams towards the end of your cycle, or all cycle long.
When to do vaginal steams
The schedule I generally recommend for vaginal steams is to do them 3 days in a row, during the last week of your cycle. Note that when I use the word “cycle” I am referring to the entire fertility cycle (averaging 28-30 days), not just menstruation. I like doing steams later in the evening so that I can go to bed shortly after finishing the steam. You can do the 3 day routine of vaginal steams once a year for maintenance, or every cycle for deep rooted issues.
Some even recommend doing a steam every other day all cycle long for more serious conditions, for a more powerful cleanse & detox. This can be very beneficial for women struggling with infertility, but it is important to note that steaming all cycle long should only be done during a cycle where you are NOT trying to conceive.
I give further details about variations on timing the steams in the section below on addressing specific concerns. You can also schedule a consultation with me if you would like a personalized protocol to address your specific situation.
Which herbs to use
Herbs used for steams are generally those that are very aromatic, and always non-toxic. This list of herbs is not meant to be a complete list of every possible herb you can use – these are some of the more commonly recommended herbs for steams, as well as the herbs I use most often myself. These are all generally easy to find – they can be purchased in bulk at your local health food store or herbal shop.
For vaginal steams, the herbs can be used dried or fresh, if available. Note that you should never use essential oils in vaginal steams. Always chose organic or wild plants, when possible. For a more profound energetic & spiritual effect, harvest some wild plants yourself!
Please note that these recommendations are for these herbal medicines to be used with vaginal steams only, not internally.
Motherwort: One of my personal favorite herbs for steams. Tonifies the reproductive system and increases circulation to the pelvis.
Mugwort: Cleansing – physically & spiritually. Can help bring on menses.
Yarrow: Astringent. Cleansing. Antibacterial. Good for infections.
Oregano: One of the top herbs for steams. Best herb to bring on menses. Uterine stimulant. Increases low, inadequate menstrual flow. Antiseptic. Helps prevent infections. (Can also use fresh oregano for a stronger effect.)
Lavender: Super relaxing herb, calms the spirit, mind and body. Antispasmodic. Nourishing to the nervous system. Emollient, very soothing to irritated tissues.
Marigold / Calendula: Cleansing, induces perspiration of tissues. Very healing for irritated skin or scars. Activates the lymph. Gentle energy.
Rosemary: Increases circulation to the pelvis, clears out old blood & fluids. Antiseptic and very cleansing. Brings concentration and focused energy.
Sage: Astringent. Spiritually cleansing. Release emotional & energetic blockages.
Basil: Can bring on menses. Reduces menstrual cramps. Antibacterial. Blesses the woman receiving the steam. Spiritually cleansing. (Fresh basil can be used if available)
Rose petals: Relaxing and uplifting. Mildly astringent. Increases self-love, releases stuck emotions.
Chamomile: Relaxing, calms the mind. Soothing to the vaginal tissues. Anti-inflammatory.
Addressing specific conditions
Steams can assist in healing a wide variety of gynecological issues. They are very effective at enhancing fertility, and assisting in postpartum recovery.
They are also one of my favorite therapies to address trauma / emotional healing that relates to sexual & reproductive health.
You can work with just one plant, or a combination of herbs. As with any use of herbal medicine, you can achieve a broader effect by combining the actions & energies of several plants. Here are some suggested formulas that can help you address specific situations.
Please keep in mind that for most conditions, vaginal steams should be part of a larger healing protocol in order to affect lasting change. For example, vaginal steams on their own, are unlikely to treat something like PCOS or fibroids. This is why working privately with someone like me to create a custom healing protocol for your unique constitution and situation will give you the best chance at achieving your health & wellness goals.
Long / irregular cycles: Oregano, basil, and mugwort. Helps bring on the blood.
Scanty bleeding: Rosemary, oregano, and motherwort. During the last week of the cycle.
Painful menstrual cramps: Motherwort, basil, and lavender. During the last week of the cycle.
Enhance fertility: Oregano, motherwort, and rosemary. Steam 3 consecutive days starting at the end of menstruation / right after you are done bleeding. You can repeat the last week of the cycle, but only if you are not trying to conceive that cycle. Steaming is contraindicated during the second half of the cycle if there is any possibility of pregnancy.
PCOS / Ovarian cysts: Rosemary, motherwort and lavender.
Endometriosis: Oregano, motherwort, yarrow, and rose petals.
Fibroids: Motherwort, basil and calendula. Can be done every 2 weeks, but contraindicated altogether if there is very heavy flooding menses, as steaming can increase bleeding.
Adhesions / blocked fallopian tubes: Oregano, rosemary, and mugwort.
Bladder / vaginal infections: Yarrow, oregano, lavender and calendula. Steam 2 days, wait a few days, if symptoms persist, repeat. If symptoms appear to worsen, discontinue.
Postpartum: Oregano, calendula, motherwort, and basil. Steam 3 consecutive days within 9 days of the vaginal birth. Okay to do while bleeding. Check with your midwife first. Wait at least 6 weeks after a cesarean section birth.
Perineal tear / scars / episiotomy : Calendula, lavender and yarrow. Wait until wounds are closed and stitches have been removed.
Menopause: Rosemary, oregano, and motherwort. Steam several times after the end of cyclical bleeding. Helps empty out the uterus completely before bleeding stops for good.
Menopausal dryness: Lavender, calendula, and chamomile.
Situations where vaginal steams should be avoided:
- While bleeding (in most situations, except postpartum)
- During a fever
- While pregnant, or if there is any possibility of pregnancy
- With an IUD
- With extremely heavy flooding menses
- With any open cuts / wounds / stitches
- During a herpes outbreak
- With chronic candida or recurrent yeast infections
Do you still have questions after reading this article and are wondering what the best herbs are for your unique situation? Book a consultation with me today. We can create a personalized protocol just for you with vaginal steams. Furthermore, for many issues, combining the steams with other therapies, as well as internal use of herbs, is ideal – so working 1-on-1 with me will allow you to really get to the root cause of the issues, whatever they may be.
The information contained in this article is not meant to diagnose, treat or prevent any diseases or conditions. This information is shared for educational purposes only.