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What Is Vaginal Smoking? 7 Things To Know About This Surprising Spa Treatment

You ever get misconceptions about things? I do all the time. And when I first heard the term “vaginal smoking,” I assumed it was some type of vaping trend. Sounds legit, right? It wasn't until I Googled "what is vaginal smoking" that I learned the truth about this treatment. It turns out vaginal smoking is a tradition from Java that involves a seatless chair, herbs, smoke, and (of course) your vagina. It’s still a pretty common spa treatment in Bali, and now more Westerners are becoming hip to this practice, where it is sometimes called a Venus smoke.

The basics: you sit in a chair without a seat, and scented herbs are burned underneath your privates. Although the health benefits have yet to be studied in great detail, many spas provide the service as a way to cleanse, relax, and even scent a vagina. Massages are often part of the package. In many ways, it’s just another selection on a spa menu.

If you’re curious, there may be a spa near you that offers vaginal smoking, or even its offshoot, vaginal steaming. There’s even a way to DIY the whole thing, so you can have your very own at-home vaginal smoking station. (There’s a Christmas present no one will expect). Who knows? You may never look at a plume of smoke the same way again.

1. It Goes By Many Names

Charles Peebles / Flickr

This practice goes by more names than you might imagine. According to the South China Morning Post, vagina smoking is also known as "chai-yok" in Korea, "ratus" in Indonesia, "ganggang" in Malaysia, "bajos" among Mayan healers and "Venus smoke" in North America. It may also go by Kendedes or vagina fogging. Who knew there were so many monikers?

2. It Involves Burning Ratus

William Warby / Flickr

As explained in the travel site RealBali.com, the "intimacy care" portion of a spa treatment may involve vagina smoking. According to the site, " you sit on top of a chair with no seat. Under you, fumes waft from a burner containing ratus, i.e. very nice smelling dried scented herbs." The smoke is thought to beautify and cleanse your ladyparts.

3. It's A Spa Luxury In Modern Bali

Merlin Phuket / Flickr

At the Air Cawan spa, for instance, vagina smoking costs about 65 Indian dollars. (This converts to only about $5.00 USD.)

4. It's Offshoots May Cause Health Issues

Paul Johnson / Flickr

After Gwyneth Paltrow touted the benefits of the "mugwort steam," clinical professor Mary Jane Minkin weighed in on the topic for Women's Health. She expressed concern "that someone would burn themselves because steam is hot. And I certainly wouldn't want someone to get a burn in their vagina." She also expressed hesitation about its affects on the bacterial levels.

5. It Is Said To Scent The Vagina.

Mohammed Mahdi / Flickr

Ratus may have a lasting impression on the senses. In a piece for the JakartaGlobe, Peni, a therapist at the VG Spa, noted that "the fragrant smoke can go straight to the vagina and therefore the fragrance is well spread down there." It's like incense for your privates.

6. You Can Make A DIY Vaginal Smoke

Too shy for spas? No worries: you can buy a Vagi Stool ($230) for at-home steams or smokes. The Vagi Steam herbs ($16) are sold separately.

7. It's Rooted In Pre-Wedding Rituals

Jonas Tana / Flickr

This type of vaginal smoking has a long history, and it has traditionally been used as a pre-wedding ritual. Many spas still include ratus treatments alongside foot baths and body scrubs as an essential relaxation for brides-to-be.