Supporting Your Fertility with Vaginal Steam Baths
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 and receptivity of the uterus. It is a tradition that has been used around the globe for thousands of years, yet is just now gaining popularity in countries like the United States. 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. I’ve worked with so many women who have combined vaginal steaming into their IUI or embryo transfer protocol who may have previously experienced pain during theses procedures. Introducing a vaginal steam prior to one of these procedures helps to soften the cervix, liquify mucous and makes the procedure so much easier and pain free!
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?
Overall, due to the cleansing reaction that most often accompanies your first steam, I recommend introducing a vaginal steam on a month you are taking a break from trying to conceive. Vaginal steaming is contraindicated during pregnancy and you want to give your body a chance to get a period (if you get periods) post-steam to complete the cleansing reaction. Once you’ve gone through a cleansing cycle, then it’s safe to incorporate steaming into your routine during months you are trying to conceive. Here are the specifics:
1. 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).
2. If you are taking oral medications to support follicle development, steam once when you first start the medication, and then once just before ovulation but before intercourse/IUI (the night before or morning of/ yet prior to your IUI is great timing). NOTE: A side effect of Clomid medication sometimes includes a decrease in cervical mucus. The steam will help increase this mucus.
3. If you are doing an injectable IUI cycle, steam once when you first begin your stimulation drugs, and then once the night before or 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.
4. If you are doing an IVF cycle, steam once when you first begin your stimulation drugs, and then once the night before or 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.
5. If you are doing a frozen embryo transfer, steam once while you are getting your lining thick and then once the night before or in the morning before your transfer.
1. Obtain vaginal steam bath herbs. You can get them HERE.
2. 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.
3. 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!!
4. Drape yourself with a blanket from your waist down to the floor so that no cold air is introduced.
5. 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!
You can email me with questions here.