An unnamed 62-year-old woman was diagnosed with a vaginal prolapse, a condition where certain body structures – such as the uterus, bladder, or vagina – shift out of their usual position. While a physician prescribed surgery, the woman chose to get another opinion from a traditional Chinese doctor who recommended “vaginal steaming” instead.
Vaginal steaming, according to a report by Fox News, is a process where hot steam is directed into the vagina. While there is no scientific evidence supporting the use of vaginal steaming to treat a prolapse – or any other condition – it gained popularity after Gwyneth Paltrow endorsed the procedure on her website back in 2015.
The unnamed woman was told by a traditional Chinese doctor that vaginal steaming could help treat her vaginal prolapse. She was given instructions, including preparing a pot of boiling water, mixing in herbal medicine, placing the pan on her toilet bowl rim, and sitting over the steam.
The woman reportedly sat over the steaming pan for approximately 20 minutes at a time. After using the process over the course of several days, she noticed a bloody discharge and ultimately went to the emergency room.
Doctors discovered that the woman had second-degree burns on the lining of her vagina and cervix, which led to the bleeding.
According to the report, the woman was not in any pain. She was told to use an antibiotic ointment and wrap the injured area with gauze to support proper healing and reduce the chance of infection.
Vaginal steaming isn’t considered a treatment option for any medical condition. In fact, the process of directing steam into the vagina could lead to other health issues, particularly since the steam could promote bacterial growth and cause scalding or burns.
The case study recommended that medical professionals become aware of various alternative treatments that may be suggested to women experiencing a vaginal prolapse, giving them the ability to counsel patients regarding the potential harm.