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This treatment is a little below the belt... do you think you can take the heat? Thanks to US based Korean spas re-introducing the ancient ritual to their menus, ‘chai-yok’ or vaginal steam baths are back on the wellness radar.
Both the apparatus and the special steam used in this ritual are crucial. During the treatment, the customer strips from the waist down and hovers over an open-seated stool. A boiling pot of mugwort tea that has been blended with wormwood and a variety of other herbs is placed under the stool and the steam rises upwards.
A 30-45 minute steaming session is said to reduce stress, fight infections, clear hemorrhoids, regulate the patient’s menstrual cycle, rid the body of toxins, minimise menstrual cramps, reduce kidney problems and help cases of infertility. In fact in Korea, many women regularly have a chai-yok after their monthly periods.
The two predominant herbs in the basic steam mixture are mugwort and wormwood. Mugwort has been used in Eastern medicine for hundreds of years in remedies designed to balance female hormones.
Its reported effectiveness when it comes to infections is said to be a result of natural antibiotics and antifungal agents present in the plant, but it is also said to:
Wormwood is also a known antimicrobial and is a popular ‘cooling herb’ in Eastern medicine. The leaves and young shoots of the wormwood shrub contain antibacterial and antiviral compounds, which (according to tradition) are also said to relax blood vessels and promote the discharge of bile.
Over the centuries, The plant has been used to:
The effects of the herbal concoction have not yet been proven, but doctors agree that the localised heat during a chai-yok boosts circulation. As a result, it’s possible that the increased blood flow allows a better supply of nutrients, antibodies and oxygen to reach the area.
If your nether regions are suffering and you don’t want to automatically resort to chemical-based cures, then the ‘V-steam’ may be something worth looking into. Some centres also offer an equivalent treatment for men (an A-steam- you do the maths), so if your bits are giving you a bit of bother, feel free to check out a cleansing chai-yok.
We wouldn’t advise skipping doctor’s appointments in favour of this treatment though. Infections and long term conditions can get pretty nasty if left to develop, sometimes resulting in infertility. If something is definitely up down below, consult your GP and keep intimate steaming as a supplementary treatment.
Although your lower half needs to be underwear-free throughout the treatment, a poncho preserves your modesty from the shoulders down. This means that you can even indulge in a group steam (if you’re brave and confident enough)!