What next, grilling?

Wow. This is one I couldn’t have imagined if I’d tried for a week. (That’s a silly hypothetical really, because I get bored with trying after about ten seconds so I stop. But if I had tried…) Gwyneth Paltrow says women and others in possession of a uterus should steam their innards. Yes steam them. Squat over some steam and let it scour out the uterus. Jen Gunter has the story.

On today’s episode of ask the experts we pit the gynecologic advice of Gwyneth Paltrow, a consciously uncoupled actress and self-professed lifestyle expert who dabbles in vaginal health, against that of yours truly, a board certified OB/GYN who has completed a 5 year OB/GYN residency and a fellowship in infectious diseases and is an expert in vulvovaginal disorders.

Ms. Paltrow, recommends a V-steam. Her words:  “You sit on what is essentially a mini-throne, and a combination of infrared and mugwort steam cleanses your uterus, et al. It is an energetic release—not just a steam douche—that balances female hormone levels. If you’re in LA, you have to do it.”

What, because LA is uniquely full of uterus-targeting microvermin? Because the smog gets all up in there and dirties everything? Because the desert is roughh on the equipment?

Jen says don’t.

Here’s why.

The vagina (and uterus and vulva for that matter) should be viewed as self-cleaning ovens. We know that douching is harmful, heck, even seminal fluid can be harmful (exposure to multiple partners without condoms is a major risk factor for imbalance of the vaginal ecosystem). The upper and lower reproductive tracts have very intricate mechanisms for regulating local health and they are very easy to mess with. It’s a delicate garden, if you will. So one needs to be thoughtful, nay conscious about what one uses in said garden.

We don’t know the effect of steam on the lower reproductive tract, but the lactobacilli strains that keep vaginas healthy are very finicky about their environment and raising the temperature with steam and whatever infrared nonsense Paltrow means is likely not beneficial and is potentially harmful. Some strains of lactobacilli are so hard to cultivate outside of this very specific vaginal environment that growing them in a lab is next to impossible. There is also the possibility that the “steam” from these plants could contain volatile substances that are harmful to lactobacilli or other aspects of the vaginal ecosystem.

Also? There’s the fact that it’s…how shall I put this…steam. Um, no?

I do wish movie and tv stars would stop using their fame to promote pseudomedical bullshit. I’m looking at you Mayim anti-vax Bialik.


  1. Blanche Quizno says

    Does *anyone* take seriously anything Gwyneth Paltrow says – about *anything*?? She should stick with the acting – I like her movies okay.

  2. canonicalkoi says

    I knew Paltrow was a flake when, during an interview about Iron Man, she made the comment that she’d never read comics as a child “because she was a girl”. Doofus.

  3. canonicalkoi says

    Ugh, sorry for the serial commenting. I was going to add that this just cements my earlier belief and ramps it up to “dangerous doofus”. *awaiting late-night ad for the Popeil Pocket Vagina Steamer–but, wait! There’s more!*

  4. moarscienceplz says

    I agree with Blanche Quizno.
    P.S., shame on Paltrow for reinforcing the idea that vaginas are pockets of pestilence that must be Sanitized For Your Protection.
    P.P.S., Evidence yet again that actors should almost never be asked their opinions about non-theatrical issues (and many theatrical issues, too.) However, I will make an exception for Patrick Stewart, and George Takei.

  5. Blanche Quizno says

    @4 moarscienceplz – I would add Stephen Fry to that short list. And Sir David Attenborough. Just because.

  6. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Ummmm….what the, I don’t even.

    LA hucksters finding new and improved ways to bilk those with more money than sense.

  7. luzclara says

    LA isn’t exactly my favorite place but it has many good features. So I don’t think we should blame “vagina steaming” or Our Gwynny on LA. Gwynny is just a hopeless gathering of various cells, and a couple of them connected and a little tiny explosion happened in her head. And I think Vagina Steaming sounds British or maybe Brazilian.

  8. Omar Puhleez says

    If you want to do any chosen part of your anatomy serious damage, I suggest steam as a suitable weapon of choice.
    What Ms Paltrow is referring to as ‘steam’ can only be condensed water vapour, as in a cloud (seen perhaps while wandering lonely as one). The steam coming out of a kettle is close to the tip of the spout, and the visible cloudy part is definitely not it. For steam is as invisible as nitrogen or oxygen, and is normally at above 100 degrees C, giving out 540 calories per gram of latent heat when it condenses, making steam burns very serious as a rule.
    So there is a good case for the celebrity industries like film and TV to be required to support the production of documentaries that urge the gullible not to be hoodwinked into quackery by their celebrity products.

  9. EigenSprocketUK says

    I’ve read and re-read this, and can’t make any sense of it. My IQ has abandoned me; my brain has run off the road with its wheels spinning helplessly in the air, trying to work out whether steamed vagina should go with gravy, or custard.

  10. Brian E says

    I think celebs like Paltrow are good examples of the Dunning-Krueger effect. She doesn’t have the tools to even know she’s wrong and blithely (is Blythe her mum?) assumes expertise. (Queue verbal arse-kicking because I’ve got Dunning-krueger wrong).

    I don’t mind celebs using their platform. It’s just a shame when they don’t understand what they’re talking about and cause real harm.

    And steaming your innards. Not sensible at all. I imagine it’s not really steaming, but some Paltrow fan will use a real kettle and do real damage….

  11. moarscienceplz says

    Blanche Quizno #5,
    Yes, let’s add Stephen Fry to the list, absolutely.
    I always love listening to David Attenborough, although I don’t consider him an actor.

  12. tecolata says

    Not to mention – the vagina is not a sterile area and cannot be (even if you – ouch! – steam it). The uterus is. Forcing steam from the vagina into the uterus could cause uterine infections.

    Frankly it sounds like something from a rape/torture “porn” movie.

  13. Al Dente says

    tecolata @13

    Forcing steam from the vagina into the uterus could cause uterine infections.

    Also third degree burns.

  14. Trebuchet says

    Perhaps Ms Paltrow should treat her vajayjay with green coffee beans, as endorsed by Dr. Oz. There’s just as much science!

  15. lorn says

    Sounds like something that Stanley Steamer, the carpet cleaning folks, could help you with. A whole new business, steam cleaning lady parts. All the ladies will want their cervix steam cleaned every month.

  16. says

    luzclara @7

    Dont go pointing the steamy vaginal finger at us!

    I once had to mansplain to a British woman why Americans use the word douche as an insult, including an explanation of what was “showered”.

    Lets just say that for her it reinforced some stereotypes.

  17. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    She’s doin’ it wrong!

    The ancient Greeks used the smoke from the burning fat of baby seals, mixed with aromatic herbs, to cure STDs and uterine cancer.

  18. opposablethumbs says

    On the other hand, since “steaming” means roaring drunk and out on the rammy, the “Steaming Vaginas” could be the organisers and perpetrators of a vry srs womens’ night out.

    Makes more sense than this havering load of tosh anyway.

  19. says

    P.S., shame on Paltrow for reinforcing the idea that vaginas are pockets of pestilence that must be Sanitized For Your Protection.

    QFfrackinT. I heard somewhere that the MOUTH is the most disease-ridden part of the human body. Not the rectum, and certainly not the vagina — the part we literally EAT FROM.

    And besides, if there’s germs in the vagina, I’m guessing they’re perfectly safe where they are, otherwise women who didn’t steam-clean their vaginas would be falling sick by the millions all around us.

  20. says

    …the “Steaming Vaginas” could be the organisers and perpetrators of a vry srs womens’ night out.

    …or just another more-silly-than-salacious Cosmo cover headline.

  21. says

    lorn: that’s not something I’d put past Stanley Steamer, or their ad folks. Look for infomercials about a hot new feminine hygiene tool, adapted by carpet-cleaners and endorsed by no less than Gwyneth Paltrow and Dr. Oz.

  22. johnthedrunkard says

    Blah blah ‘energetig’ blah bla ‘release’ blah blah ‘balance’ blah blah ‘mugwort.’

    Insert anything in the gaps and the fashion/celeb tribe will line up for shearing.

    I thought Goop lived and preached in New York? And Richard Attenborough was the actor, not David. I can’t think of any seriously deranged public statements from him though.

    When clinking the ‘log in’ link just now. I was treated to a pop-up ad: ‘Which Herb Boosts Male Testosterone?’


  23. mudpuddles says

    …Gwyneth Paltrow, a consciously uncoupled actress…

    I misread that without my glasses on, and thought it said she was “conspicuously unoccupied”, which would be accurate. Made me laugh. Woman’s got nothing better to do?

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