Last year it was vajazzling; this year it's the v-steam. In December, the Los Angeles Times introduced Americans to the vaginal steam bath, a "centuries-old Korean remedy" that's now taking off in both traditional, Korean salons and luxury ones.
Known as chai-yok in Korean, the vaginal steam bath is exactly what it sounds like. Maybe worse! You perch over a bottomless pot of boiling water infused with herbs for about 20 to 45 minutes. You're either naked or wearing a poncho-like getup that does not breathe to maximize the steam's effect.
Ancient Korean wisdom says it fights infections, reduces stress, eases PMS, and even increases fertility; Western doctors say maybe so, but so far there's no absolutely no proof. Dr. Laura Riley, director of labor and delivery at Massachusetts General in Boston, says, "I just don't understand physiologically how putting steam up the vagina is going to change your fertility or help you relieve stress."
So what do women who've had v-steams say? Find out below.
"I had to wear a hot-pink poncho made of rain coat material," said a client at Tikkun Holistic Spa in Santa Monica. "They used a camping gas stove, with a pot of Chinese herbal remedy on it, set it on simmer, then the steam did the work."
At the less posh Daengki Spa in LA's Koreatown, a client described her experience like this.
"The 'tent' you put over your head has an elastic neck so you can open it up if you get overheated. The small seats are a bit uncomfortable if you're not petite, but we managed to stay on them for the entire 45 minutes. The owner was very attentive and asked us about our experience with the treatment. We couldn't believe how effective the steam treatment was. Dead skin was beginning to slough off before we got to our scrub! The V Treatment is done in the lobby area where people are lounging and watching Korean soap operas."
So does it work? The reviews are mixed. After going once, a woman said, "I have not felt anything different afterward. Still have my PMS, and other female problems. I guess you need to do it a few times to feel the benefits." While another said "I always detox like crazy and then I'm not sick during the flu season."
Have you tried it?