Yes…I said it…”vaginal steam baths”. I realize you are probably now reading this through bashful yet curious eyes with a grin on your face wondering, “What in the world are vaginal steams and how could this possibly support my fertility?”
Vaginal steam baths, or “Bajos” (ba-hoes), as they are known in Spanish, are used to assist in the cleansing of the uterus in conjunction with the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy for the treatment of numerous female symptoms. The formulation of a vaginal steam bath consists of aromatic, cleansing herbs such as basil, calendula, lavender, oregano, yarrow or lemon balm that will penetrate into the uterine wall. The therapeutic effects of thermotherapy and aromatherapy contribute to the effectiveness of this treatment. Overall the bath aids as a uterine lavage or internal cleanse of the membranes that often accumulate incompletely flushed debris/fluids from cycle to cycle. In addition, the bath introduces healing warmth and softens and nourishes internal membranes.
The baths can safely be combined with either natural cycles or any cycle involving assisted reproductive technology such as IUI or IVF. Consider adding vaginal steam baths to your self care routine if you experience painful periods, dark blood at the beginning or ending of your menstrual cycle, irregular periods, fibroids, cysts, endometriosis, cervical stenosis, vaginal dryness or painful intercourse.
When specifically do I steam?
- If you are in a natural cycle, steam once within a few days after your period, and then once just before ovulation but before intercourse (we don’t want to heat up the sperm).
- If you are taking Clomid, steam once when you first start your Clomid medication, and then once just before ovulation but before intercourse/IUI. A side effect of Clomid may be a decrease in cervical mucous. The steam will help increase this mucous.
- If you are doing an injectable IUI cycle, steam once when you first begin your stimulation drugs, and then once in the morning before your IUI procedure. Steaming before your IUI procedure helps to liquefy the cervical mucous and creates a lubricated path for the insertion of the catheter through the cervix.
- If you are doing an IVF cycle, steam once when you first begin your stimulation drugs, and then once in the morning before your transfer. Steaming before your transfer procedure helps to create a lubricated path for the insertion of the catheter through the cervix.
- If you are doing a donor egg cycle, steam once while your donor is stimulating and then once in the morning before your transfer.
- Obtain vaginal steam bath herbs from CNY Healing Arts (Rochester, Syracuse or Latham). The contents of one bag of herbs is enough for 2-3 vaginal steam baths.
- In a large pot containing about a gallon of water, place the herbs. Bring to a soft boil for 5 minutes then steep for 10 minutes with the lid on. Offer prayer.
- Place the pot of water/herbs under a slatted chair, lawn chair, or even in your toilet. Sit over the pot without underwear. Be careful to make sure the water/herbs have cooled enough so that you do not burn yourself!!
- Drape yourself with a blanket from your waist down to the floor so that no cold air is introduced.
- Sit over your pot of herbal steam for approximately 20 minutes.
The side effects of a steam may include a temporary increase in menstrual flow (more dark fluids, debris) and/or menses may start earlier that usual due to a cleansing effect.
*Vaginal steam baths are contraindicated during pregnancy!
If you have any questions, please contact Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Erin McCollough, LMT RYT
CNY Fertility & Healing Arts Center, Rochester, NY
2244 East AVe, Rochester