One ob-gyn had strong feelings.

By Renee Cherry
Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

When Chrissy Teigen recently took time for self-care she went for a multi-tasking approach. The new mom posted a picture to Instagram of herself with a sheet mask on her face, heating pad around her neck, and steamer under her vagina. (Related: 10 Things to Never Put In Your Vagina)

"Face mask/heat pad/vagina steam. No I don't know if any of this works, but it can't hurt right? *vagina dissolves*" she captioned the photo. While many commenters on the post praised Teigen for her characteristic realness-this post comes right on the tail of posing for a breastfeeding pic-others brought up concerns about the iffy effects of vaginal steaming. Ob-gyn Jennifer Gunter replied to a tweet of the post with a warning: "The vagina steam is a scam. Potentially harmful. Stiz baths definitely endorsed." Teigen responded, "what are you a fucking vagina doctor!!!!!" Dr. Gunter came back with "I'm THE fucking vagina doctor!!!!" (Related: 6 Reasons Your Vagina Smells and When You Should See a Doc)

All jokes aside, Dr. Gunter has a point. Vaginal steaming, a GOOP-approved practice of sitting over a steaming pot of water with medicinal herbs is said to cleanse the vagina and uterus, but the practice could actually do more harm than good to your lady bits. In a blog post on the topic, Dr. Gunter argued that steam can potentially throw off your vagina's ecosystem. "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," she wrote. To back this up, steaming "can get rid of good bacteria," Leah Millheiser, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University, previously told SHAPE.

GOOP didn't discover vaginal steaming, but the lifestyle and wellness brand definitely had a hand in drawing attention to the practice. The company has a history of making claims that have raised eyebrows among the medical community and was even accused of making over 50 inappropriate health claims by Truth in Advertising. In an effort to increase transparency, GOOP recently announced that moving forward, it will label its stories with a disclaimer about how scientifically-proven (or not) its claims are in order to be more up-front with its readers. For now, might as well copy the other two-thirds of Teigen's self-care practice which happen to be a lot less controversial. Get started with this DIY green tea sheet mask.


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