There are lots of reasons to go to Bali — beaches, food, temples, culture — but there are plenty of other amazing blogs you can read about that stuff on so I won’t bore you with it here. Don’t get me wrong, I loved all of that stuff when I was there, but there was one thing in particular that drew me to the island for a recent weekend trip: A Vagina Steam. And it was all because of Gwyneth Paltrow.
As far as willingness to try bananas beauty treatments go, GP has got me beaten by a longshot (She’s superior to me in every other way, too, so it makes sense). Girlfriend is HARD CORE, and does all kinds of out-there things like hold Jade Eggs in her vagina and quit food for like, a month at a time for the sake of healing her energy or something. I respect the hell out of her and find it all fascinating, mostly because it keeps her looking amazing despite the fact that still smokes cigarettes.
Back in 2015, Gwyneth’s crazy-pants health website, GOOP, ran a story about the benefits of vaginal steaming. The internet mostly freaked out about it because 1)Who in their right mind spends $75 to sit on a bowl of hot water and 2)A bunch of doctors came out and said it was absolutely terrible for you. I, on the other hand, reacted by non-stop Googling “WHERE TO GET A VAGINA STEAM IN NEW YORK RIGHT NOW.” The options sadly all looked too expensive, because, Gwyneth, so I gave up and mostly forgot about it. Until recently, when I moved to Asia and discovered that it was
… Until recently, when I moved to Asia and discovered that it was very much a thing in this part of the world, especially in Bali where I was already planning a weekend trip. So I shuffled around my temple-seeing and beach-going schedule, booked my flight and headed Bali to get my vagina steamed. ($1 in the douchebag jar for me for typing that sentence, no pun intended).
To be clear, v-steaming was a thing lOoOng before GP came along and made the $75 NYC version trendy. In addition to Bali, places like Korea, Greece, and Mexico have been doing it for centuries. In Indonesia, the treatment is called a “ratu,” and many women treat themselves to a steam clean once a month after their period. It’s also a pretty common pre-wedding ritual, meant to get women “ready” for their wedding night. Heh. In ancient times, women would go to a “secret” spot in the woods and hang out together while they gossiped and steamed, which really makes me giggle and miss my friends in New York. But I digress.
According to Gwyneth’s review of the treatment, “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.” In regular-people speak, that means that you basically sit on a bench with a hole in it while a bowl filled with steaming water and essential oils wafts up into your business.
Here’s all the stuff that V-Steaming allegedly does for your bod:
- Reduces stress
- Fights infection
- Regulates your periods
- Increases fertility
Etc. Etc. … You get the picture.
Basically, it’s supposed to be good for your lady parts both inside and outside (though full disclosure, some doctors say it’s all bullshit). Some of the spices and herbs in the pot allegedly help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles to tighten the vagina, and some people claim they’ve left their ratu treatments “feeling like a virgin again.” I mean, yeah. Ok.
Did I really feel like I needed one? Eh, no. Trust me — I have no illusions about getting my virginity back. But I got an IUD recently which has made things kind of uncomfy down there (as IUD’s generally do — I’ll spare you the details) so I figured I may as well treat myself to a little steam clean. Because who knows? Maybe blowing smoke up your V is the secret to being thin and rich enough to live on $26 kale smoothies like Gwyneth does. Either way, I was going to find out.
My “intimacy treatment” at the Taman Sari Spa in Bali started with a 90-minute massage, which is basically the beauty treatment equivalent of, “Buy a girl a drink, first.”Around minute 85 of the massage (post ass, boob and stomach rubbing, which are all apparently things in Indonesian massages) my therapist excused herself to start preparing the ratu.
Peeking out from under my eye cover, I watched her unplug an enormous electric tea kettle from the corner of the room (which looked uncomfortably similar to the one I had on my stove in New York), and poured a creepy looking brown liquid into a giant mixing bowl on the floor. She then pulled out a step-stool with a massive hole in it and placed it over the bowl, which I immediately realized was going to be my “throne.”
At least it was padded, I thought.
A few minutes later, once my head massage was over and the boiling herbal concoction had cooled to a level that wouldn’t burn my clit off, the therapist handed me a floor-length batik muumuu to put on, then told me to spread my legs and pop a squat over the steaming hole. It was about as uncomfortable as it sounds, times a hundred.
I was really thankful that she excused herself after the initial squat-popping occurred because there’s something really fucking awkward about trying to make conversation with a stranger while there’s steam floating all up into your lady bits.
So there I sat for 30 minutes reading Crazy Rich Asians and worrying that my IUD was going to fall out or I was accidentally going to pee in the bowl of hot water and get kicked out of the spa.
Halfway through the treatment, the therapist brought me watermelon and lemon tea.
“What do I do with these?” I asked her, feeling prettttty nervous about which hole they were meant for.
“Eat them,” she told me, looking even more confused than I felt.
It seemed weird to be chomping on a watermelon (I don’t even like watermelon) while my vagina was being deep cleaned from the inside out, but it was almost lunchtime and I was hungry, so yeah… I went for it.
The time went by quickly (mostly because I spent most of it trying to get a Snapchat selfie that would fully capture the bizarreness of the situation, which proved impossible, hence why there are no photos in this story) and when the 30-minute session was up I de-throned, took a quick shower and that was that.
The experience was definitely not AT ALL how Gwyneth described it (that lying bitch.) but it wasn’t exactly unpleasant (thanks, in large part, to the watermelon). It didn’t feel good, per se, but it didn’t hurt, either. I could (kind of? maybe a little bit?) feel my insides being “cleansed” by the steam floating all up into my lady parts. I don’t really know how to tell if the treatment did what it was supposed to do in there, but I did happen to have amazing sex that afternoon (it was in the name of research!), so all signs point to yes.
This next part may sound batshit insane, but you know how some people burn sage to get bad spirits out of their apartments? (Idk, I saw a girl do it on Instagram once) I like to think that this was basically the same thing, sexual healing style. While I sat there, I couldn’t help but feel like my vagina was being cleansed of its bad memories… I’m not entirely sure if this means I’m a virgin again (ok fine it def doesn’t) but hey, I’ll take it — especially if it means all of the dumb hookups I had in college are officially wiped from history✌🏼✌🏼✌🏼.
So after 30-minutes on my own personal steaming throne, I’m still not as strong or as thin as Gwyneth, but my vagina actually might be.