V Steams and Sitz Baths and Benefits, Oh My: 4 Critical Differences Between Them

When it comes to perineal health at home, sitz baths and vaginal steaming (v steam) have become particularly buzzworthy of late. But while they both target the perineal area, each works differently and serves very different functions.

Reproductive and genital health often feel like taboo subjects. Nobody seems to be cozy with the idea of talking about their privates. But in reality, the subject is immediately relevant to the entire human population, so let’s get comfortable talking about it. After all, when we can’t keep them healthy, our privates stay not so private anyway.

Let’s take a look at both the trending v steam and compare it to a classic sitz bath for a quick breakdown of the benefits and processes of each.

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Soak 1

Sitz Bath

A sitz bath, unlike a v steam, is a warm, shallow bath used to relieve pain, burning, or itching in the perineum area. The shallow nature of the bath allows for a focus on the perineal area to help reduce spasms, improve blood circulation, promote healing, and reduce pain. By immersing the affected area in a bathtub or shallow bowl, you can soak the affected area directly.

Because it is an entirely noninvasive process, it can safely be done at home with or without a doctor’s recommendation. As an added bonus, there are virtually no risks associated with sitz baths excluding possible infection if the bath isn’t clean or has been shared.

Common ailments eased by a sitz bath range from hemorrhoids, postpartum recovery, and cysts, to anal fissures. Ultimately, any discomfort in the perineal area is enough reason to draw yourself a nice warm sitz bath.

Ultimately, all you need to perform a sitz bath is clean warm water. Aim for about 104° Fahrenheit so you don’t burn your skin. You’ll want enough to cover your perineum, about three to four inches. Depending on how long you plan to soak, you may want to keep a supply of warm water on hand to replenish your bath and maintain the temperature. Salts, oil, and other substances could cause inflammation depending on your ailment, so it’s advisable to use only water unless otherwise directed by a care provider.

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Salts

V Steam

The subject of the v steam might seem new and trending, but the practice isn’t new. In fact, cultures as ancient as the Greeks have used the practice to support general vaginal wellness, reproduction, menstruation, and libido. There aren’t many studies to add credence to the practice, but often we find our ancestors knew a few things we don’t, so take that for what it’s worth.

A v steam is exactly what it sounds like. The process, also sometimes referred to as yoni steaming, involves squatting or sitting over a pot of hot steaming water infused with herbs. The practice can be done over a seat designed specifically for that purpose, or over a bowl with a towel wrapped around the lower body to retain the steam.

Across cultures, the v steam is reported to balance hormones, detox the uterus (which can improve period health), improve recovery after childbirth, improve fertility, provide hemorrhoid relief, increase energy, reduce headaches, provide general pain relief, and reduce stress and depression.

While the risks associated with a v steam are minimal, there are a few things to be aware of. Steam is naturally hot, and just like you can receive burns from steam rising from a pot of boiling water, your perineum is more delicate than other skin on your body and can burn more easily. With proper precautions, this can be easily avoided but should be considered nonetheless. Other possible side effects include infection if the materials used are not properly cleaned, and cervical fluid discharge after a v steam.

(Note: cervical fluid or discharge are normal after a v steam and are only concerning if the color, odor, or intensity are considerably different than normal. Otherwise, this is just the v steam doing its job and allowing the vagina to release dead cells and bacteria.)

 When it comes down to what to use for a v steam, the possibilities are vast. Common ingredients may involve some combination of the following: basil for cleansing, rosemary for anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties, oregano as an antiseptic, calendula as an anti-inflammatory, motherwort for cleansing and pain relief, lavender for anti-microbial properties, and marigolds for anti-inflammatory properties. 

Some companies offer premixed herbal combinations, such as the womb protector, the yoni steaming herbal blend, and more, targeting fertility, menopause, menstrual balance, and postpartum recovery. Be sure to carefully evaluate the quality of herbs you’re using though since the steam they infuse will be used and absorbed by your skin. Clean ingredients matter.

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Bubbles

Both sitz baths and an old-fashioned v steam can be highly effective when used properly. Key differences include 1) soaking in a sitz versus steaming in a v steam, 2) anyone with a perineum (that’s everyone) can perform a sitz, whereas a v steam targets vaginas specifically, 3) a sitz bath requires only water whereas a v steam operates on the benefits of special herbs for each targeted benefit, and 4) sitz baths have clinically proven benefits while the v steam relies more on ancestral and tribal knowledge.

Ultimately, they are both helpful, both pose minimal health risks, can both be performed in the comfort of your own home, and are both noninvasive, but each serves a different purpose. It’s up to you to choose which method of care you need or want to explore.


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Lacey Peek
Lacey Peekhttps://www.thewrittenwayllc.com/
Lacey is a born and raised Floridian and is outside as often as she can be, but she also enjoys a good book paired with delicious snacks. She grew up outside and loves to garden, explore new trails, travel, and slip in and out of tide pools on long beach walks. She adores Danish mid-century furniture, her three cats, houseplants, a clean home, and fresh homemade food. A former high school teacher turned professional marketing copywriter, you can find her work on her site, The Written Way.

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