Is there a link between depression and masturbation?

Does masturbation cause depression?

Masturbation doesn’t cause depression despite many times throughout history where that was believed. It was once believed that ‘nocturnal pollutions’ could make you mad, blind or insane.

Nowadays we know that’s been disproved and we understand that masturbation or self pleasuring or solo sex can help someone understand their body and sexual response, boost theirs self esteem and help them feel good.

If someone feels shame or guilt around self pleasuring it’s more likely it’s their culture or religion that has negative views about masturbation that’s making them feel terrible rather than the act itself.

The benefits of solo sex

Masturbation can help you have a much better nights sleep because after orgasm your body is flooded with delicious feel good hormones such as endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin.

Studies have found that women who have never or just don’t self pleasure themselves are less sexually satisfied in their marriages. Learning to give yourself pleasure and orgasms on your own can very often mean you will find it easier to orgasm with your partner and have more enjoyable sex.

There might also be a connection between self pleasuring yourself and having a bigger sex drive. Researchers found that women who regularly engaged in solo sex have a much bigger sex drive than women who don’t masturbate.

Orgasms get you out of your head and into your body and can almost be used in a meditative way.

Combining solo sex with tantra breathing meditation can fill you full of sexual and creative energy and help you to feel aligned with your life’s purpose. I show you how to do this at my retreats.

How does depression impact your libido?

Depression can make one lose interest in usual things that they perhaps once loved or found interesting. It can make one lose interest in sex or solo sex and as it reduces their overall energy can reduce their sexual energy and libido.

If you’re in a relationship and you’re feeling very depressed and noticed your sex drive has become very reduced it’s important to keep that connection and intimacy going with your partner or partners. Choose ways to do that like cuddling and spending one on one time together that make you feel close.

Certain anti-depressants can reduce your sex drive too and you should definitely talk to your Doctor or a sex therapist if you notice this is happening.

How defensiveness poisons romance


Chronic defensiveness in a relationship can turn it into a nasty battleground.

It’s one of the top toxic pollutant that poisons a happy relationship.

Dr Gottman defines defensiveness in a relationship as, “self-protection in the form of righteous indignation or innocent victimhood in an attempt to ward off a perceived attack.”

It’s where someone keeps protesting their innocence all the time and dodges any attempts at conflict resolution with a sky high defensive wall of defensiveness.

It’s normal for us to become defensive when we are actually being criticized, but the problem I’m talking about here is that the defensive partner isn’t being critized. It might be a complaint about their behaviour.

Maybe you’re the one in your relationship that uses chronic defensiveness everytime an argument comes along.

Maybe it’s your partner that puts up huge roadblocks to intimacy by throwing defensiveness  at you everytime. They can react angrily or hurt or throw self pity at you instead.

Perhaps they say things to you like this;

“I haven’t had time to take care of that!”

“It wasn’t even my fault because …”

“I try so hard…”

“I can’t change the past…”

“You’re not my father/mother!”

It’s a clever way of deflecting responsibility. You’re telling your partner when they raise something with you that upsets them, “the problem isn’t me, it’s you.”

The problem doesn’t get resolved and the conflict escalates further.

Being defensive with your lover  invalidates, diminishes or suppresses their emotions and thoughts.  When a defensive person feels like they’re under attack they focus on protecting their reputation or honour when what they’re really doing is protecting a very fragile sense of self that’s full of negative feelings of self doubt.

Often defensive types see their partner as attacking them when they’re actually not being critisized at all. This is especially true if it’s something is a trigger of ours- whether from a past relationship or our childhood.

Defensive folk can sometimes be terrified of true intimacy and let it all bottle up inside themselves. Later they can react in a passive aggressive way to keep others at a safe distance. They can withold or say they will not co-operate or shut down.

If it is hard for all us to listen to feedback from our partner and these are skills we can all work on.

From a psychotherapy point of view, defensive people can unconsciously be very attached to the feeling of being critisized and unconsciously go searching for that feeling. This can be a lingering negative effect of how they felt as a worthless as a child. This feeling of being bad or in the wrong is a very familiar feeling for defensive people. There’s an unconscious pull towards feeling this way because it’s what they were used to when much younger. It feels comfortable and familiar and by default they can fall back into it.

“Defenders adeptly avoid the issue being discussed by drawn-out attempts to explain their behaviors, or by justifying themselves, presenting a case that they are innocent, or analyzing how they got the way they are. Here are some examples: “I talk too much because my father never gave me any attention.” Or, “I had too much to drink because I’m under a lot of stress.” Or, “If you worked as hard as I do, you’d be crabby too.” Acting indignant is another common defense: “How could you ever think I’d do such a thing?”

Becoming defensive denotes insecurity about yourself and your position. The intensity of your reaction may be an indicator of how truthfully your partner is describing you and your behaviors. The more you protest, the more you give yourself away.

Often the defender defends even when her partner’s judgments about her are unjustified. Almost any accusation makes her defensive because she resonates with feeling criticized or condemned. The accusations may represent how she really feels about herself and how, through the inner conscience or inner critic, she “hits herself up” with accusations of inadequacy and incompetence. For example, if her partner accuses her of handling a situation inadequately, even though she knows she did a good job, she may end up feeling inadequate because she used her partner’s criticism—unjustified though it might be—to soak up feelings of being judged and disapproved of.”

Sandra Michalson

Although a lot of people don’t realise they are defensive, it is possible to become aware of and change.

It is possible to calm down that inner critic that keeps us in perpetual defensiveness. We can stop acting out in our relationship the inner fights between our own inner critic and our own inner passive side.

We can stop taking everything so personally or learn from constructive criticism. If it’s rubbish feedback from a co-worker or someone else then we can laugh it off and not be easily offended.

Learning to listen in a new way and self soothe when you feel yourself falling back into a defensive place can help.

Focussing on our individual defensive techniques can help us to disarm them and work out the cause of the reaction. From there a couple can move forward together to lay down their weapons and change their reactions whenever conflict arises.

In the next blog I’ll speak more about how to overcome defensiveness in a relationship.

Art-Jonathon Harrison

Why asking questions about sex is important.


I’m still very concerned by how GP’s in Australia receive minimal or no training in sexual health.

GP’s in Australia don’t receive any training about how to discuss sex and sexual health with their patients.

Sexual health is intergral to our well being and it needs to be seen as an essential part of our mental and physical health.

GP’s often assume their patients are sexually active because they don’t want to ask them that question. A lot of the time that assumption is wrong.

There’s a lot of couples counsellors out there who have no sexual health training at all. A lot of them also don’t have any training in working with couples where domestic violence and abuse might be present.

You can’t operate in a sexless vacuum. It’s there and medical and mental health professionals need to have adequate training in sexual health.

It’s not true that if you repair the relationship that sex will automatically start flowing again.

It’s also not true that you can wait for a couple to bring up sexual issues with a therapist. Often they might want to but won’t, hence the need for therapists with sexual health training who will ask the right questions and not shy away from topics about sex and intimacy.

Asking patients questions about their sexual health is crucial for understanding their medical history.

The more uncomfortable the question is, often the more important it is to ask.

How to Overcome Male Performance Anxiety- video

“When I’m not interested in sex, it makes me feel like I’m not a man. In fact, my wife wants it more than me so I came up with the excuse of chronic back pain. I think it’s easier for her to accept. What’s wrong with me?”

– David, Clifton, New Jersey

Three essential male vulnerabilities that many men grapple with.

The fear of rejection. The free and burdensome position of being the iniatator.

The fear of inadequacy. Am I competent enough, do I know what I’m doing?
How do I know if my partner, especially if they’re female, really enjoys it. What is that mystery of that other partner who I can never know what she really feels, because she can fake it.

Why compatibility is a myth

I’m sick of reading about compatibility being the supposed ‘glue’ of a relationship all the time.  I hate this strange definition of compatibility and I’d like to redefine it with you now and show why it’s overrated.

There is such a thing as a compatible couple.

There’s no such thing as two people who share all the same tastes, values and interests.  All couples fight and argue about the same things- sex, time, money, kids, in-laws etc.  A good relationship hinges on how you manage and resolve these conflicts together.

Research shows there’s no difference in levels of compatibility in happy or unhappy couples.

Happy couples never even mention compatibility. Only unhappy couples bring compatibility up all the time and stress how important it is to a relationship.

Compatibility is like an easy scapegoat for unhappy couples to blame when a relationship is floundering or doesn’t work out.

Successful relationships aren’t about compatibility.

Successful long term relationships  are more about will power and partners who truly want to stay together in the relationship. You must want to be in a relationship in general and you must want to be with your partner.

Creating a fulfilling relationship is more to do with you and your partner than this contemporary concept of compatibility.

Lasting relationships are more about how you interact with each other than who you are.

Compatibility is something that you create together. It’s not something you have inside of yourself. You maintain and nurture that compatibility over time. You work at compatibility.

I want us to throw out talking about relationship compatibility like it’s a noun. It’s not like a holy grail you find in the wilderness. Relationship compatibility should be discussed as a verb. You go on a pilgrimage together to find the holy grail. Verbs are doing words and a noun is an object.

Relationship skills can always be sharpened and improved upon.

How do you emotionally connect? How do you respond to your partners bids for connection? Do you turn towards your partner or turn away?

Some people think someone’s personality or interests are what makes up compatibility but these won’t necessarily pass the test of time.

Relationships are about building something together. How does your relationship support your vision for your life?

Stop focussing on this flawed notion of compatibility especially in the early days of dating. Doing this makes it easier for commitment phobes or people scared of intimacy to run straight for the exit door of the relationship as soon as things get challenging.

Watch this before you get married or move in together

This is beautiful….

The relationship counsellor in me got very excited when he started talking about Dr Gottman.

Gottman says the most important factor for a happy marriage is attention.

Small moments of positive attention.

Remember you are on the same team.

It’s about giving your partner consistent small acts of love and attention.

It’s the small things often that make the big differences over time.

It’s the small moment of our lives that take up the biggest parts of our hearts…

If you’re in a relationship, what is your favorite small act of love that your partner does for you?

Let me know what you think of the video..

Can you tell a man’s penis size by his shoe size?


Dear Cat,

When I’m on a date with a man can I tell how big his penis is by checking out his shoe size? I’ve heard that men with large shoes are very well endowed and I’m quite often sussing out their foot size. Is this true?

If it’s not true is there a way I can tell whether he’s got a big one by anything else like his body type?



Hi Kelly,

Sorry to disapoint but the answer is no.

You can’t tell a man’s penis size by looking at his feet or shoe size and a research project was set up to work that out.

In a study from 2002, Doctors measured over a hundred men’s shafts and then measured their shoe size. They stretched out the participants flaccid penis to try to get an accurate measurment of the size the penis would be erect. Now that sounds rather flawed to me and I’m going to do some research into this point and get back to you on it. Anyway, the researchers found a vast range of penis size from 6 to 16 cm and shoe size from 5.5 to 13 which is interesting because there’s also a vast range in the length of women’s inner labia.

However they found no connection between the size of shoe size and penis size.

The reason the doctors measured the men’s penis themselves was to try to maintain some neutral and objective  measurements.  It would have been an interesting job to take on!

When men measure their penis on their own, they consistently overestimate and add an sneaky inch or so to the length and girth.  This is why there’s not much reliable data out there on the average penis size around the world.

To answer your second question there are possibly some other ways to get an idea of penis size but the research only really points to overall trends. So please keep in mind this doesn’t mean it’s a magical indicator of every single man you meet.

So there is a correlation between bigger penis size and taller height and lower body weight. The research shows that taller and skinnier men have larger penises. Remember these are general averages overall and of course shorter and heavier men can be well endowed.

The second way you might be able to tell if you still have your large penis detective hat on is by looking at their hands.

Penis length is also correlated with finger length ratio.  I don’t advise necessarily doing this on a first date but I’ll fill you in on the research results anyway!
The longer the penis tends to be the shorter a man’s index finger is in relation to his ring finger.

So you can stop staring at their shoes on a date now!

Overcome your orgasm block

           She struggles to orgasm




Were you punished for simply exploring your body as a child? It’s a common way that we learn to repress our sexuality and young girls seem to be punished a lot more for self exploration than little boys.

This repression can continue into adulthood. When women don’t know how to orgasm after growing up with this shame about their own bodies it’s important to awaken your own body on your own terms.

I’m going to say that again because it’s so important- awaken your body on your own terms! What would that look like to you? How could you do that?

A lot of young people are brought up with the abstinence only model which can lead to repression and confusion about desire and pleasure.

A lot of girls are accessing porn earlier and earlier and using it as their main form of sex education despite the fact it’s mainly focussed on male sexual needs, made for the the male viewer and documents the male sexual response cycle which is very different to the female sexual response cycle.  There can be a lot of frustration when women are trying to make their body respond in the same way a man’s body does.

Learn how to self pleasure yourself on your own.

Get a lamp and a mirror and rub oil on your genitals and give yourself a loving and sensual massage.

Learn how to orgasm yourself on your own first.

Learn the rhythm, pressure and patterns that feel good so that you can then show someone else what you like when you’re ready.

For women of menstruating age and not on hormonal contraception that blocks ovulation, notice the times of your cycle that your body is most responsive, most easily aroused and most lubricated.

Notice how your vulva, body responses and discharge changes throughout your cycle.

Learn to love your body and your genitals in new and radical ways.

Masturbation and sex are skills that need to be learnt like riding a bike.

Imagine you’re training for the Tour de France! Start putting all of that focus and concentration on traning yourself! Don’t let your pleasure go to the bottom of your ‘To Do’ list.

If you struggle to orgasm get to know what’s in between your thighs intimately and make it a priority to master the art of self pleasure and orgasm.

Understanding how all of your body works and responds is important to unlocking sexual pleasure. A lot of my work is starting off with sex education and eradicating so much of the myths that my clients have been brought up with surrounding their sex drive and their bodies.

A clinical sex therapist such as myself can help you if you’re struggling with orgasm and can set you specific homework techniques depending on your specific situation.

This is especially relevent if you’re struggling with past sexual trauma.

Get in touch with me today if you want to reclaim your sexuality, your pleasure and your body.

Catherine O Dowd

Sex therapist- Relationship Counsellor- Art Psychotherapist

Things from porn you shouldn’t do

porn good


Porn lies to you! And sadly so many people get their sexual education from porn these days and are terribly misinformed. It’s important to remember it’s a highly constructed fantasy for entertainment- it’s not the one and only way to have sex!

Here are some things you may have seen in a lot of pornographic films and shouldn’t do in real life!

Vaginal sex straight after anal sex


STOP!! If you are using a toy like a strap on or a penis in a partner’s anus and then you go straight from there into the vagina stop noooo stop right now!!
You will give your partner nasty infections!

You should never even put your finger from up inside an anus to up inside a vagina. If you want to do this, wear gloves and use lots of lube. Change the gloves before you go from the anus to the vagina. Also, change the condom before going from the anus to the vagina!

Remember how little girls are taught when wiping themselves after urinating they should wipe from front to back never the other way around? That’s because the bacteria from the anus should NEVER get into contact with the pH balanced vagina. This transfer of bacteria can apparently even happen when women wear a g-string! Once the  bacteria that normally lives in a healthy GI tract, rectum and anus is transplanted  into the reproductive tract of the vagina, they can cause quite a few problems.

Putting a cock, finger or toy from an anus into the vagina can cause bacterial vaginosis. This can cause a strain that’s harder than usual to treat because it’s a type of bacteria not normally found in the vagina.

This mistake you may have learnt from porn may cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which is when bacteria travel from the vagina to the uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes and can cause infertility. That’s not sexy!

Vaginal sex straight after anal sex can lead to vaginal thrush (or vulvovaginal candidiasis). This can be very painful, inflamed and itchy with off-smelling, white or looking discharge. Doctors recommend avoiding any fingers/toys or penises in the vagina while it recovers from thrush so that’s another reason not to do this!

Post anal vaginal contact can also cause urinary tract infections which can lead to serious kidney infections if not treated early!


Not using any or enough lubrication

I know you never see the behind the scenes prep in porn movies with lube and to be frank, there is often hardly any lube used in a lot of porn scenes which looks rather painful!

Spit isn’t enough!

All safe sex requires lube and condoms! Condoms without lube can break! Always use lube!



Not wearing condoms with a new sex partner

You should never ever have unprotected sex with a stranger or new partner!

10,000 people between the ages of 13-24 were diagnosed were HIV in a recent study. Don’t be complacent about your sexual health! Safe sex always! Don’t risk it!


Not wearing condoms when you have anal

Someone said to me recently they didn’t do this with a new heterosexual partner because “anal means no baby risks so why wear a condom.”

You still aren’t protecting yourself against STI’s and HIV!

It’s time to destroy the myth that the anus is a simply tighter version of the vagina. No!

Having protected sex during anal encounters is even more important than vaginal sex because the anal lining is much thinner than the vagina and prone to breaking and  tearing more easily when friction occurs. This is expecially true if there’s nasty dry friction going on! The anus doesn’t produce its own lubrication like the vagina so if you aren’t using lots and lots of lube then you could be causing micro tears and making the anus bleed! Coming into contact with someone’s sexual and bodily fluids like blood is not safe sex!


Skip foreplay for the woman


A lot of porn is made by male directors for a male audience. Think of how in so many of film scenes any point of view scenes are usually for the male viewers joy.

There’s a LOT of scenes that consisently show foreplay for women is completely missing or only about 2% of the the amount of documented foreplay for the man. I think there’s even been academic studies to prove this. For every one minute in heterosexual porn of a woman receiving cunninglingus from a man there was probably 20 minutes of a woman sucking a man’s penis!

This isn’t real!

Foreplay is important! Stop seeing sex as just the genitals touching each other. Sex is every single part of your contact.

I totally get that foreplay will vary when you’re with a long term partner and sometimes quickies can be exciting, however if every single time you’re rushing straight past foreplay then stop!

The more foreplay the more the vagina lengthens, widens and lifts. The more foreplay the more orgasmic capacity the woman will reach. Why rush? What’s the hurry?



Ignore the entire body except for the genitals


I often laugh to myself that so many porn scenes could just be a floating vulva or penis in the air with perhaps a hand and that’s it. It’s so disconnected.

The entire body is an exciting erogenous zone. Stroking your lovers body, caressing and massaging it all over before even touching the genitals can open up a whole world of pleasure. Sex is more than just genitals rubbing together.  A lot of pornos just replicate these cultural ideas that prioritise reproduction way above pleasure.  Embrace a more holistic and nuanced view of sex where you’re not rushing to get to a destination.


Do something without checking in because you saw it in a porno and thought it was okay

Grabbing their head and choking them on your penis, slapping her or him, calling her or him a slut, choking her or him around the neck, ejaculating on her face- without her or his consent -all because you “assumed” it was okay because of all the particular porno’s you watch isn’t going to help you. Without their explicit and continued consent it is assault.

Unless she or he begging you to do that or has talked about it with you beforehand just don’t do it. Do not surprise someone with things like this. You need to discuss it first.

Consensual sex means that two people have to agree.

Consent is mutual, ongoing, freely given, informed and enthusiastic. It can be revoked at any point.

Asking permission is sexy and not a sign of weakness.

Sexual trauma occurs where someone feels pressured into doing something they don’t want to do or has the kind of sex they don’t want to have. This is especially done by the person who had more power in the interaction or relationship and when they don’t even care what the other person wants.

Just because there’s a particular few “standard” porn scripts doesn’t mean that’s what people like outside of that constructed film fantasy.   Sexual desire is complex and vast and extends far beyond the contrived world of porn that is let’s face it, made mainly by male directors. Women are all wired from their genitals to their brains very differently to other women and like very different things. Don’t assume anything about anyone’s wants and desires.

Just because you watch a lot of rough and nasty films that show women being disrespected and hurt doesn’t mean your sexual partners will be down for this treatment. Don’t assume anything.

If you go rough  on your partner without checking with them first that they like this or without them telling you that’s what they’d like to try- it’s not going to end well. This is not what consent is all about.

Verbal communication is super important during a sexual encounter. Remember that silence is not consent and you must ask and ask and ask some more! You could say, “Is this okay?” or “do you want to keep going?”

If a sexual boundary is accidentally crossed then rely on what should be your foundational skills for any sexual encounter- communication, negotiation and repeated mutual consent.

The laws in Australia have been updated.

Positive consent now means that:

  • there is a free agreement between all parties involved, with no coercion, force or intimidation of any kind; and
  • an individual will actively display his/her willingness to participate and consent to sexual activity. Consequently:
    • submitting to sexual activity, or not actively saying “no”, is not enough to demonstrate consent; and
    • the consent of the other party in a sexual encounter should never be assumed, and should be actively sought after and affirmed.

This brings us nicely to my next point..


Slapping your partners genitals

Unless they ask or beg for it. Just don’t. Watching it in a porno doesn’t mean your partner will like it. I’ve heard male, female and non binary clients both complain to me about a new sexual partner doing this to them. You can really hurt someone! Check first!

Start pounding fast and rough anal sex straight away

Porn stars spend copious amounts of time behind the scenes preparing their anuses for sex scenes and they still often sustain injuries. If you want to have anal sex start very slowly and gently and only once your body is very aroused and relaxed.


Be a selfish jerk and make the entire encounter only about your own pleasure


Especially if it’s a first encounter!

I understand in long term relationships you might play and do role plays where one person might only receive one time or what have you!  However, in general if you really think the sexual act is mainly about your own pleasure and trying to ram as many openings as possible then you’re missing out on so many other realms of pleasure. If you’re having a one night stand with someone and you’ve demanded they be stroking and sucking you for 99% of the time and you barely even touched their body then perhaps you should start to learn to dedicate some of your time to pleasuring your partner. It’s not all about you!



Only define sex as penis in a vagina or penis in something


This is a huge problem with our society. Sex is a much more expansive idea than this. I have written countless blogs about this over the past six years so won’t repeat myself about this here.
So there you have it! That’s just the tip of the iceberg of what you shouldn’t do in real life that you saw in a porno film!

Why you shouldn’t steam your vagina


Wowee! Look what fell off the latest snake oil sales truck. STEAMING YOUR EXTERNAL GENITALIA!

Gwyneth Paltrow has come out with the idea that steaming one’s vagina can give women energy, “detox” your uterus (PURLEASE!) and balance their hormones!

It’s also been called, “v-steaming, vaginal steam baths and yoni steaming” and some women pay over a hundred bucks to go to a special salon and sit without their pants  on above a pot of boiling water for up to an hour.

Look, I love my vegetables steamed but not my vulva! And I love mugwort tea and understand how good these herbs are for you-I’ve used moxa sticks before and really enjoyed them but steaming your vagina has no evidence it works!

Steaming your lady garden seems like another wonderful way to supposedly treat non-existent female sexual issues. The history of humankind is full of these!

I’m quite annoyed by the long list of supposed “problems” this vag smoking can “solve.” I wanted to rip out my hair reading some of them because they’re not problems! Apparently it cures the “nasty vag odour!”

Steaming the outside of your external genitalia can also apparently  cure stomach problems, infertility, hemorrhoids, uterine fibroids, prolapse and ovarian cysts

There is no benefit to steam cleaning your vagina or vulva!

Vaginas don’t need to be warmed up or be exposed to steam.

Your vagina isn’t like your throat leading to your lungs! Your vagina won’t respond in the same way your chest might clear up when you have a cold and you put your head over a bowl of hot, steaming water.

Vaginas are pretty dam clever at keeping themselves healthy.

Vaginas are self cleaning organs with specific pH levels that vary throughout the monthly cycle of a pre menopausal woman.

The vagina isn’t a gaping hole that leads straight to the uterus for steam to get into! At the top of the vagina at the neck of the cervix is a particularly clever plug of mucus that changes throughout the monthly cycle. This plug keeps out bacteria and keeps sperm alive at fertile times in the cycle.

The idea that steaming your vulva can balance hormones is pretty funny and illogical! Women make hormones in their ovaries and the pituitary gland and hypothalamus in the brain. It’s a complex balancing cycle.

Sure, use the herbs they’re suggesting but not in a vaginal steam,  use them in a healthy herbal tea instead!

There’s no scientific evidence that vaginal steaming works. The only evidence is anecdotal and it may relieve stress in exactly the same way as having a nice warm bath does.

Try drinking mugwort in a tea, doing a meditation or using a hot water bottle instead.

I’m so concerned women might burn their vulva or give themselves thrush or other vaginal infections by exposing themselves to this steaming process.

And for the women paying huge amounts of money to sit on a throne in a spa treatment centre and have their vulvas steamed, are they actually opening up their vulva so the steam goes up into their vagina? Or does the steam just go towards the closed lips of the vulva? Does the vulva need to have its hair removed for the process to work?

This reminds me about how douching your vagina is bad news and you should not do it! Douching removes the good bacteria that maintains the healthy balance in your vagina.

Yeast loves the nice warm environment that steam will provide.

“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. Some strains of lactobacilli are so hard to cultivate outside of this the very specific vaginal environment that growing them in a lab is next to impossible. There is also the possibility that the “steam” from these plants could contain volatile substances that are harmful to lactobacilli or other aspects of the vaginal ecosystem.”

Dr. Jen Gunter

Yes vaginal steam baths may have a long history in certain countries but as you can see how it’s used in Africa and  that’s not necessarily a good thing.

In many African cultures, vaginal steaming is used to dry out the vagina because the belief is that with less vaginal secretions the sex is more enjoyable for the man. This also leads to higher rates of STI’s and HIV.

“In many African cultures, plants and other intravaginal desiccants are used to minimise vaginal secretions. This practice, known as ‘dry sex’, creates a vagina that is dry, tight, and heated, which is supposed to generate an increased sensation for the man during intercourse. Although this is uncomfortable and painful, African women express the need to please their husbands with dry sex in order to keep them from leaving and to minimise the number of girlfriends (Baleta, 1998; Kun, 1998). Previous research has shown that dry sex damages the epithelium of the vagina and can lead to lacerations, inflammations, and the suppression of the vagina’s natural bacteria, all of which increase the likelihood of infection with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV (Brown et al., 1993; Runganga and Kasule, 1995; Kun, 1998; McClelland et al., 2006).
As both men and women highly appreciate dry sex, education and awareness programmes should discuss the risks of genital steam baths and encourage safe methods, such as avoiding contact bleeding during intercourse by means of a ‘good warming up’ and promoting the use of condoms (Terborg, 2001).

So please don’t steam your vagina. Yes, pamper and self care! Yes, take time out and worship and love your body! Yes drink mugwort tea!  But please don’t steam your sensitive vulva!

And PLEASE for heavens sake! Don’t do something with your sensitive nether regions just because a celebrity does it!