One month after welcoming her second child, Chrissy Teigen tried out vaginal steaming and shared the process on her Instagram account. Although the model and cookbook author said in the caption,“It can’t hurt right?” PEOPLE Health Squad member Dr. Mary Minkin advises against it.
Minkin, a board-certified OB/GYN and clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale University School of Medicine tells PEOPLE, “There’s absolutely no data that shows that it does anything. And it’s potentially dangerous.”
Minkin says the vagina is self-cleaning and there is no reason to try and destroy the bacteria found in a healthy vagina.
“First of all, you’re not going to destroy the bacteria because they’re always going to come back. And there’s a delicate balance, in general, in a healthy woman,” she says. The Lactobacilli are the “good bacteria” that you want to have a lot of to keep away bad bacteria and bad yeast, and steaming is one way you could hurt them, Minkin adds.
“There’s no point to steaming it, I don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish,” she says. “If they want to acidify the vagina, we can give them over-the-counter gels, which will help make the vagina acidic.”
In addition to changing the pH balance of your vagina, Minkin notes an obvious concern: burning yourself. “The vaginal tissue is the most sensitive tissue on the body and why anybody would potentially burn their vulva and their vagina is totally beyond me.”
For Teigen, who is recovering from having her second child, Minkin said she is extra concerned.
“Depending on the delivery, it may take a few weeks for the uterus to shrink back down to normal size,” she says, and adds that it needs time to recover on its own without additional irritations.
The 32-year-old isn’t the first celebrity to share their thoughts on vaginal steaming. Gwyneth Paltrow said in 2016 that she’s hooked.
“The first time I tried v-steaming, I was like, this is insane,” Paltrow tells The Cut. “My friend Ben brought me and I was like, ‘You are out of your f—–g mind. What is this?’ But then by the end of it I was like, ‘This is so great.’ Then I start to do research, and it’s been in Korean medicine for thousands of years and there are real healing properties.”
But Dr. Jen Gunter, a board certified OB/GYN and expert in vulvovaginal disorders, also said on her blog that it is “probably not good.”
“Herbal steam is no better and quite possibly worse,” she said.