A 62-year-old Canadian woman suffered second-degree burns from vaginal steaming—a practice that received attention when actress and Goop boss Gwyneth Paltrow recommended it. The case study, including warnings about the dangers of vaginal steaming, was published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, the BBC reports. The woman had hoped that she might avoid surgery for a prolapsed vagina if she underwent steaming. Her traditional Chinese physician advised her to sit over a pot of boiling water, mixed with herbs, for 20 minutes. She did this twice in two days, then went to an emergency room with burns. Her injuries delayed the reconstructive surgery.
Goop's website touted the idea in 2015, per the New York Post, saying it's been around in Korean spas for thousands of years. The case study's lead author said that although it has been used in some Asian and African cultures, that doesn't mean it's without risks. A consultant at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London said it's a myth that the vagina needs thorough cleaning or treatment; plain, unperfumed soap used externally is enough, she said: "The vagina contains good bacteria, which are there to protect it." Steaming could upset the balance of bacteria and pH levels. (Read more Goop stories.)