It’s not often I’d pay attention to something Gwyneth Paltrow has recommended. After all, she once told people go get stung by a bunch of bees if they wanted to reduce the appearance of a scar or bring down inflammation.
So when it comes to her health advice, I tend to steer clear.
But recently I had some spare time in the wellness capital of America — Santa Monica, a Bondi-esque beach town in LA, which also happens to be the HQ of Gwynie’s wellness brand Goop.
Of course, being so close was an opportunity too good to ignore, so I decided it was time to give one of these ridiculous health tips a whirl.
Despite Paltrow providing plenty of ludicrous suggestions over the years, there was one I really wanted to check out for myself — the famous vaginal steam.
A Goop guide to spas a few years back raved about a “V-Steam,” a treatment for your genitalia that involves sitting or squatting over hot steam infused with herbs that apparently cleanses and rebalances your hormone levels.
“You sit on what is essentially a mini-throne, and a combination of infra-red and mugwort steam cleanses your uterus, et al,” Paltrow wrote on her blog.
“It is an energetic release — not just a steam douche — that balances female hormone levels.”
Like I said, it sounds utterly bonkers but it’s continuing to grow in popularity. Even Chrissy Teigen revealed recently she was a fan, and she’s usually the one to call out nonsense not be part of it.
There’s no scientific evidence that backs up any of these “health” benefits and there was even a woman who hit the headlines in August last year for suffering second-degree burns during the process. Ouch.
Yet for some odd reason I still wanted to road-test this tosh for myself. Especially when I heard some people used the weird treatment as a hangover and jet lag cure.
I’d landed at 6.30am that morning after a 14-hour flight from Sydney and needed some help adjusting to the local time. Maybe this was just the ticket?
Booking into the Tikkun Hollistic Spa — the exact spot where Paltrow herself had once gloriously stripped off before sitting on a chair with a large hole in it — I headed in with zero expectations.
Inside, I was told to get naked and wrap a large plastic sheet around myself, the way you’d use a towel once out of the shower. It would act as a barrier to keep the heat in once I was sat on the slightly terrifying “throne”.
The chair room had about six steaming seats in it, but luckily I was alone. After being helped onto the chair (because it was a little tricky to spread my legs and hoist myself up) I was handed a remote which controlled the temperature and was told the treatment would last 30 minutes.
“It’s going to get hot up there but try not to open your robe and let the heat out,” the assistant told me, before leaving me to it.
I’d only been on the seat a minute or so at this stage and it didn’t feel too toasty, so I cracked it up to a six and began to let my vagina sweat it out. Now there’s a sentence I never imagined I’d ever write.
By this point, it was 3.30pm LA time and I’d been awake 30-odd hours thanks to my morning flight and the 19-hour time difference, so I was also pretty sleepy.
For the first 10 minutes, I wasn’t even convinced it was on it but then the heat began to build inside the weird cloak dome wrapped around me and I began to squirm uncomfortably. By 15 minutes in, I was sure I’d have to get off as it was just too much. I turned the temp down quickly and hoped for light relief, but I was really getting a sweat on.
For the second half of the treatment I wriggled about on the chair uncomfortably, even my feet which were perched on stools around the base of the chair were getting itchy from the intense heat.
Naturally, I took a selfie at this point and I was an absolute sweaty mess. It may have been my privates getting steamed but there wasn’t an inch of me that wasn’t wet.
Eventually after what felt like a red-hot lifetime, a timer beside me started to buzz informing me I’d reached the 30 minutes and I jumped up off that bottomless chair quicker than I’ve ever said yes to a glass of prosecco.
I went straight back to the change room to get dressed and didn’t feel that sudden boost of energy Gwynie had promised me. In fact, I felt more knackered than ever.
But during my 10-minute walk back to the hotel I started to notice a spring in my step and by the time I got to my room, I suddenly felt an urge to go to the gym and not to bed.
So that’s exactly what I did, amazed that I suddenly felt inspired to sneak in a 30-minute sesh on the treadmill and stepper. Luckily for me, I was staying at specailist wellness hotel that catered for every aspect of my health kick, even a V-steam induced one.
I even managed to make it out to dinner at 8pm — eating at my hotel’s rooftop bar and restaurant, Calabra at Santa Monica Proper Hotel — before crashing into a deep sleep at 10pm.
While I’m can’t for certain credit the steam for that sudden surge in energy, I definitely did beat my jet lag that day and had a few laughs.
Maybe Gwynie is onto something.