Goop.com is a veritable goldmine for tempest-in-a-teapot controversies, and never more so than when Gwyneth plays the role of health expert. The latest morsel of advice to stir the pop culture pot is the Mortdecai’s star’s endorsement of a vaginal steam douche at a swanky L.A. spa. (Price tag: $50). The Mugworth V-steam, offered by the Santa Monica holistic spa Tikkun, is described thusly on Paltrow’s site:
“You sit on what is essentially a mini-throne, and a combination of infrared and mugwort steam cleanses your uterus, et al.”
Why, gentle reader, would you squat over what sounds like a fancy humidifier in the first place? To enjoy an “energetic release” that “balances female hormone levels.”
Not surprisingly, the post has garnered its fair share of criticism and has provoked some vagina/uterus/et al experts to weigh in on the practice. Lainey Gossip brought our attention to Dr. Jen Gunter’s informative rejoinder to the Goop post. Don’t steam your vagina, says Dr. Gunter. For one, it is “self-cleaning.” Moreover, our reproductive systems naturally require a certain amount of bacteria, which may be thrown off balance—possibly even irritated—by an herbal steam.
It also doesn’t—or can’t, really—work. Gunter says it’s virtually impossible for steam to “clean” the uterus—unless the pressure is Dyson-esque in intensity, in which case it’s dangerous, she says–Gunter also takes issue with the notion that the treatment could have any effect on hormone levels. “Mugwort or wormwood or whatever when steamed, either vaginally or on the vulva, can’t possibly balance any reproductive hormones, regulate your menstrual cycle, treat depression, or cure infertility Even steamed estrogen couldn’t do that,” says Gunter.
But Gunter doesn’t want to pop anyone’s feel-good balloon when it comes to health and wellness so she offers some of her own parting advice. “If you want to feel relaxed get a good massage. If you want to relax your vagina, have an orgasm.”
Related: We were up on the V-Steam long before Gwyneth—find out what happened when our writer tested the “vajacial” last year