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Hi! I'm Jessica

I'm a writer, podcaster and mentor empowering others to live and thrive with endometriosis.

Vaginal Steaming with Kathie Bishop of Into the Wylde

Vaginal Steaming with Kathie Bishop of Into the Wylde

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Vaginal Steaming for Thrush and Endometriosis

Thrush and pelvic pain are issues that can affect all women, not just those with endometriosis. Yet both are common symptoms of the condition and reoccurring thrush can be a constant battle for some women.

Kathie Bishop from Into the Wylde is a medical herbalist with a passion for female pelvic health, and conquering thrush. She has clinics in both London and Essex where she sees women with a variety of pelvic health conditions.  She is currently developing a range of products and courses for women who suffer with recurrent thrush to live thrush-free forever and reconnect with their sexual selves. She gained her first class degree in Western Herbal Medicine from Westminster University in 2009, and is passionate about teaching women how to Vaginal Steam, and shouts about its benefits.

I asked Kathie to give us the low down on thrush, endometriosis and the much-debated vaginal steaming.

Endometriosis and Thrush

Women with conditions affecting their pelvic health, such as endometriosis and thrush, can get really disconnected from their uteri, their wombs, that female part of themselves. I’m really keen on helping them connect in again, and in rediscovering that connection, really start to listen to their body, their truth, their health. It’s a very deep, powerful experience, but I’ve found it so crucial to aiding healing. Tuning in takes time and dedication to the practice, it doesn’t happen immediately, especially if you have a traumatic association with that part of you. Along with the herbs I may prescribe, I encourage a range of other methods, from vaginal steaming to meditation and abdominal massage - even womb yoga.

Endometriosis is a congestive state and I approach it by always taking into account the individual woman sitting in front of me and what exactly is going on for her rather, than by the condition she has.  We may look at the effects of oestrogen and inflammation, diet and lifestyle.

Thrush can be one of the problems that occurs when living with endometriosis. Although there are a range of reasons that may cause someone to get recurrent thrush, I’ve found that it can be prevalent when there is congestion in the area, as you have with endo. This can be caused by adhesions, scar tissue, growth of the endometrium in the pelvic cavity and organs, but also because of poor pelvic circulation, or poor digestion.  I also find there is normally a major immune system component and I always enquire around blood sugar handling too.

Sugar Free Living

There has been quite a bit of well-publicised research out recently around some of the ill effects of a sugar-laden diet. This has caused the idea of a low fat, low cholesterol diet for weight loss and health that disregards the effects of sugar, to be questioned.  Unrefined sugar has loads of negative effects on our bodies, yet is highly addictive - we are evolutionarily programmed to consume sugar where we can as a fuel source, so can be very hard to reduce or quit.  However, humans’ can get their fuel from fats, proteins and carbohydrates.  Sugar is a simple carbohydrate (as opposed to the healthier complex carbohydrate) and is so easy to consume in a typical western diet without realising you're doing so - it’s like giving candy to a baby. This has led to the rise of obesity as well as numerous other societal-wide health problems. It has been linked to the rise of type II diabetes, tumour growth, and inflammatory processes in the body. This is not great for either endometriosis or thrush, especially as sugar is the main food source for candida albicans - the fungus which is mainly responsible for thrush, and can aggravate symptoms of PMS well as contributing to magnesium deficiency.

Vaginal Steaming

One of the techniques that I really like to encourage women who regularly suffer with thrush or endometriosis to do is vaginal steaming.  I know this had some mixed reviews in the mainstream press in the last couple of years, but I can assure you its not for cosmetic purposes. Vaginal steaming is about vaginal and female health and most women who do it say is that it is deeply nourishing, relaxing and releasing. I am a real advocate for it and like to remove the veil and demystify it wherever I can – its totally accessible to all women and is not something to be afraid of.

To do your V-Steam you will need your herb mix, boiling water, a bowl, a towel, 20 minutes undisturbed alone time, and a toilet, steaming or slatted stool.
 

  • Boil a large pan of water and then pour into the bowl you will use for the steam. Let it cool for a few minutes off the boil so that it doesn't burn your skin, then add two large handfuls of your herbs. Place in the toilet bowl, or on the floor under the stool with holes, or a slatted seat.
  • Take your underwear off, but make sure you wear socks. Sit on the toilet or stool/slatted seat, draping a heavy towel or a blanket around your waist to trap the steam in. The heat should feel comfortable. If it is too warm, wait for a few minutes and try again - please avoid burning yourself.  Be careful not to allow any drafts in, so make sure the blanket goes all around and reaches to the floor. I have heard this described as being 'a cocoon for the pelvis' and I think this is such a lovely description!
  • Make sure you don’t get cold from the waist up either, and remain sitting over the steam for 20 minutes. This is a lovely time for mindfulness, meditation, & reading.
  • Rest quietly after the herbal steaming in a warm room free from drafts or open windows. It is best to go to bed for at least an hour afterwards or to do it before an abdominal massage. Be careful to protect yourself from cold drafts for the next 24 hours, keep warm and avoid sudden temperature changes if possible.

Its great to do a Vaginal Steam as close to your period as possible. However, if you are being treated for fertility issues and are not taking contraception, only do the steam before you ovulate.

The benefits from steaming are that it is relaxing and releasing for the uterus, and is one of the tools that may help to reduce cramping pains, pelvic adhesions over time, increase pelvic circulation, and correct uterine positioning - when combined with abdominal massage.  The benefits of the steam come from both the warmth from the steam and the essential oils from the herbs you use, and it is these essential oils that can also provide some anti-fungal properties too. Vaginal steaming is a lovely, gentle way to administer the herbs as vaginal mucous membranes are delicate, meaning direct application is not appropriate, but the mucous membranes are highly absorbent, so that the herbs get their to do their work.

There are so many lovely herbs you can use for your steam - highly aromatic herbs such as oregano or lavender can be lovely for their anti-fungal properties, while yarrow and chamomile are perfect for their anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic qualities. Always use good quality herbs, from a reputable source.

After a steam some women have reported changes in their vaginal discharge or menstruation. This can be because of the overall cleansing nature of a vaginal steam.  On an emotional level it can also help release emotions you may have been holding onto. Ultimately, everyone’s experience is different, but if you are at all worried by what happens do contact a practitioner who has experience with Vaginal Steams - there are more of us than you think! Have a look into Mizan, Mayan or Fertility Massage therapists or menstrual health practitioners.

Always consult with a qualified practitioner before undertaking any new regime yourself. There are times that it is not suitable to steam: if there is a chance you may be pregnant; if you have an IUD fitted or if you have any gynaecological cancer. Apart from that you are good to go - I’d love to hear how you get on!

I have some exciting new projects about conquering recurrent thrush planned for 2017, so if you want to find out more or book a consultation please head over to my site www.intothewylde.com, where you can sign up for updates or book an appointment. I look forward to seeing you soon!

To do your V-Steam you will need your herb mix, boiling water, a bowl, a towel, 20 minutes undisturbed alone time, and a toilet, steaming or slatted stool.

 

 

 

 

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