Chrissy Teigen posted a photo on Instagram yesterday that shows her squatting over some kind of contraption with a blanket draped over her knees. (She’s also clutching a heating pad over her neck while wearing a facemask, FWIW.)
“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 wrote.
Oh, but Chrissy—it definitely can hurt.
Hold up: Vagina steaming? WTF is that?
Chrissy is hardly the first person to try this (hi, Gwyneth!). Vaginal steaming involves squatting over a pot of herbs and steaming hot liquid in order to "cleanse" your vagina. Fans say it can do everything from relieve cramps to get rid of funky discharge.
No word on why Chrissy was doing this, but it’s really not a good idea, regardless of the reason, says women’s health expert Jennifer Wider.
For starters, there’s the obvious fact that you could burn yourself…on your vagina, she points out; which, yeah, no thanks. “The vaginal area is sensitive and these types of burns can be painful and difficult to treat,” says Wider.
Also, there's literally no proof that steaming your vagina can help relieve cramps or cleanse anything, says Jessica Shepherd, a minimally invasive gynaecologist.
And those herbs in the pot—you just don't know how they're going to affect your vagina. You might be totally fine, or your vagina might get seriously irritated by them.
Then there's the whole thing about how the vagina literally cleans itself. A healthy vagina has bacteria that helps keep the vaginal pH at the right level, but disrupting this environment (through steaming, douching, etc.) can actually increase the risk of infection, says Wider.
In Chrissy's case, that chance for infection might be even greater, as she's healing, postpartum, adds Shepherd; vaginal steaming may even increase postpartum bleeding.
So...I should definitely not try to steam my vagina, right?
Yeah, that's a hard no. If you’re having cramps, Shepherd recommends taking an NSAID to help with the pain. A heating pad and exercise can also help, Wider says.
If it doesn’t, and your cramps are beyond terrible (or you're having them outside of your period), talk to your doctor. This could be a sign that you’re struggling with an underlying condition like endometriosis or adenomyosis, both of which need medical attention, says Shepherd.
The bottom line: If you're interested in trying out vaginal steaming, just...don't.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US