Pain, more pain and hellish cramps. For Period! editor Yayeri, menstruation isn’t exactly the highlight of the month. Taking loads of painkillers of course helps, but there must be alternative ways out there to make your menstruation a more pleasant affair. This time she tries: vaginal steaming with Kutkruiden.
Kutkruiden, dried herbs for vaginal steaming from the Dutch label Kutkruiden. There are three different types: Fresh (invigorating steam for sporty muffs), Sweet (soft and calming for the fiery snatch) and Naughty (for hot and steamy vajayjays). Seeing as there isn’t one called Anaesthetic (painkilling and anti-cramp for the bleeding vagina whose only purpose it is to wreck your entire day), I test Sweet, a mix of motherwort, mugwort, lavender, rosemary and basil.
Vaginal steaming has been practised for centuries. Our ancestors steamed against menstrual pain, to boost fertility and to solve hormonal imbalance. According to the Dutch label Kutkruiden, it’s a way to feel more connected with your cycle and womb. It also helps to relax, cleanse and stimulate your vagina. The steam increases the blood flow to your pelvis, which raises the amount of oxygen there and causes the pelvic floor muscles to relax. The first time post-V-steaming, your period can be heavier because of old indurated blood. After that, your cycle could become more regular, lighter in colour and flow, and less painful. However, the outcome isn’t the same for every woman.
‘Bought some new fancy tea?’ my boyfriend asks when he sees me stirring the pan with boiling herbs. The instructions are simple: heat up in 2 litres of water, let it cool down a bit, put the bowl in the toilet and ready to steam. The dark brown water indeed smells exactly like lavender tea does. (I resist the urge to pour a bit in a cup and taste it).
It’s recommended to first test the temperature of the steam on the inside of your wrist. It turns out my vagina is more sensitive than my wrist. Read: A LOT more sensitive. Too lazy to walk back to the hob, too impatient to wait, and too touchy to sit in the hot air, I hop above the loo for a few minutes. Thigh exercises for this week: done.
‘Bought some new fancy tea? my boyfriend asks when he sees me stirring the pan with boiling herbs’
When I’m finally used to the heat, V-steaming ends up being very relaxing. But since I normally only visit the toilet when I need to actually use it, I almost pee in the bowl with herbs. Not very clever. Just in time I clench my bladder muscles and open the book I’ve been wanting to read for weeks. Background music, scented candles; turns out one can feel pretty zen on the loo. Until I hear something scratching the toilet door, whining. The dog doesn’t understand why I’ve been in here for over 15 minutes already.
Luckily he soon shuts up and allows me to enjoy my ‘me-time’. Butt, thighs and vagina are all covered in sweat; the towel does a good job keeping in the hot steam. Vaginal steaming is just like a local herb sauna, but better: no need to run outside after 10 minutes and dive into ice cold water. Seeing as I’ve forgotten to take my mobile phone, it isn’t until the water has cooled off and I get out that I realise that instead of the recommended 20 minutes, I’ve spent more than an hour on the loo…
My vagina smells like lavender and I feel lazy for the rest of the day, just like when visiting a sauna. Maybe it’s a placebo effect because of the smell, but the down under area feels extremely fresh. Am I more connected to my yoni? Uh, no, not that I’m aware of. Does it help against period pain? Unfortunately not. The next period is as painful as all the previous ones and I notice no difference in blood loss either. Recommendable? Yes: V-steaming is a good excuse to grab (half) an hour of ‘me-time’. In my case, it’s ideal for when I’ve got PMS (as the rest of the household gets a short break from my crying and shouting spells).
Freelance journalist Yayeri van Baarsen (31), managing editor of Period! Magazine, is also founding editor of Enjoy the Algarve magazine. Do you have a product that you would like to be tested by Yayeri? Please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to: Kyle Rodriguez (portret Yayeri)