Supermodel and TV host Chrissy Teigen has prompted controversy by sharing an image of herself performing a “vagina steam,” a practice that homeopathy advocates such as Gwyneth Paltrow have claimed serves to “[balance] female hormones.” In a post to Instagram, Teigen showed herself wearing a face mask and a heat pad while performing the bizarre procedure, jokingly captioning the post: “no I don’t know if any of this works but it can’t hurt right? *vagina dissolves*.”
While women on Teigen’s Instagram gushed about potentially trying the procedure for themselves, gynecologists responded with a mix of bewilderment and horror. Jen Gunter, a California-based gynecologist has cautioned against undergoing the procedure in the past. Two years ago, Gunter said, “Claims that [‘vaginal steams’ or ‘cleanses’] can somehow impact vaginal or uterine health are not biologically plausible.” She added, “A vagina does not need to be detoxed. Ever. The vagina is a self-cleaning oven. That is why we have good bacteria.”
In fact, just days before Teigen shared the photo of herself mid-steam, Gunter had authored a column for The New York Times appropriately titled “Here Are Things Not to Put in Your Vagina.” Gunter has previously taken Paltrow to task for putting women’s health at risk by trying to sell non-scientific treatments such as “jade eggs” that are inserted into a woman’s vagina, and in her column for the Times called on women to be more careful when it comes to trying the vagina treatments they see on social media.
Reiterating that the vagina is “self-cleaning,” Gunter recommended that women avoid homeopathic products, and in particular to not use any product that is meant for “vaginal cleaning.” If a woman is worried about her vaginal health, she advised, it is best to consult a health care professional rather than rely on the personal testimony of celebrities who peddle potentially dangerous products or procedures.
“For instance, I’ve been hearing about “vaginal steaming.” It’s well meaning, but woefully misinformed. If your bottom is sore, use a sitz bath,” wrote Gunter.
“Who cares if something was used historically if it has since been deemed ineffective or harmful?” she added. “All these so-called ‘ancient’ sexual remedies were retired for a reason.”