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What Are the Medical Benefits of Chai-Yok?

By C. K. Lanz
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The Korean remedy chai-yok is believed by some to reduce stress, relieve menstrual cramps, and bolster fertility. Additionally, this steam treatment is said to fight infections, regulate the menstrual cycle, and help reduce hemorrhoids. Although these claims have yet to be studied and established by the medical and scientific community, there is anecdotal evidence of chai-yok’s effectiveness. Some medical professionals have expressed concerns about burning or injuring the vaginal area. In the United States, the treatment is available at high-end spas as well as alternative health centers, primarily on the east and west coasts.

Chai-yok is a vaginal steam treatment, also known as V-steam, during which a nude woman sits on an open-seated chair above a boiling pot of an herbal blend for between 20 and 45 minutes. The origins of this vaginal steam treatment are not clear, but it has been common in Korea for centuries. Many Korean women undergo a session after menstruating. There is a comparable treatment for men, sometimes called an A-steam, that steams the perineal region.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that chai-yok can be effective against infertility and can regulate menstrual cycles while reducing cramping. Some women claim that they became pregnant after several treatments. An increase in energy and a decrease in pain have also been associated with the steam. The herbs used in the steam are thought to help fight infections, reduce stress, and even clear hemorrhoids.

Although the herbal mixture used can vary, most contain wormwood and mugwort. Herbalists claim that mugwort is a natural antibiotic and antifungal agent that helps maintain uterine health. It has long been associated with vaginal health. Wormwood has traditionally been used for digestive problems as well as infections and parasites.

Some medical professionals suggest that any benefit from chai-yok is due primarily to a placebo effect, while others strongly support the treatment. Some suggest that fertility can improve with decreased stress and mind-body intervention but that a vaginal steam would have no physiological effect and could even burn or injure sensitive tissues. Conversely, others argue that chai-yok works because infertility problems are due to stagnation and coldness or poor circulation.

It can be difficult to assess the effectiveness of a remedy like chai-yok once it has been removed from its original cultural context. Although steaming the pelvic area may provide some benefit due to increased circulation, crucial puzzle pieces may be missing. By removing chai-yok from the cultural system that produced it, a system that included particular social, dietary, and environmental factors, it becomes impossible to determine whether it was the steam specifically that was responsible for any benefits.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon994482 — On Feb 11, 2016

I found an at home version of this called "V-Steam" online and decided to try it. It smelled really good when I opened the package and it's not very expensive considering you can get 3 steams out of one package. My cramps were noticeably weaker after steaming but I'm not sure if it's because of the steam or if it's a coincidence.

By ysmina — On Jun 24, 2014

I did not think that chai-yok was a good idea either. But my close friend got pregnant after four sessions and she had been trying to get pregnant for years. It might just be a coincidence but based on her experience, I decided to try it.

It's difficult to find places that offer chai-yok but I think that this remedy does have benefits. The most important is that it's great for stress, which is known to be a factor affecting fertility.

I don't know if it's going to work for me, but considering the kind of money I've paid for other fertility remedies, I think this is worth it.

By donasmrs — On Jun 23, 2014

@literally45-- I have never gotten a chai-yok treatment, so I might not be qualified to comment on this at all. But I personally don't think that this remedy could have any benefits, aside from cleaning the outside of the vagina. But that can be done with a bath or shower. I don't see the point of paying a lot of money for something like this.

It might help with menstrual cramps, pain and odor. But like I said, that's not something that a good bath or a hot water bag on the stomach can't do. If the point is relaxing in a warm, moist environment, a sauna would work too.

I think I'd also feel uncomfortable sitting nude on that chair.

By literally45 — On Jun 23, 2014

Has anyone here tried this remedy for chronic vaginal infections such as yeast infections or urinary tract infections? Can chai-yok help?

By Animandel — On Jun 04, 2014

It's easy to bash something we don't understand. Not so long ago, many people thought meditation was useless, but more and more people are beginning to use the practice. So, maybe chai-yok does have some good things about it. The only thing that concerns me is what the article mentions in the first paragraph about possible burning.

By Sporkasia — On Jun 04, 2014

I can understand why people would be skeptical of chai-yok. I agree with the article that without any statistics to show how this remedy has worked for individuals, we have no way of knowing whether it is actually working or whether the people using it are simply convincing themselves that the remedy is working.

On the other hand, we also have no way of knowing that it's not working. If I use chai-yok and I begin to feel less stress because I think the remedy is working then I am benefiting, even if the treatment has no actual healing or medicinal value in itself.

By Drentel — On Jun 03, 2014

How far out of left field does this sound? I understand that people are sometimes desperate for ways and remedies to help them with physical problems, but this does not pass the common sense test.

Plus, as the article says, there is no medical research that supports any of the claims about chai-yok. There are other proven methods of handling all the conditions this Korean remedy is supposed to help.

There are many ways to reduce stress, including exercise, meditation, watching a ball game with friends and even medication when and if it is needed, so why would you want to use something that has no proof of its effectiveness?

There are also products that help reduce the pain of menstrual cramps and there are now fertility drugs that sometimes work too well. I'm sure you've read the stories about couples having multiple births per pregnancy. Until I can see some confirmed results, I am skeptical about this remedy

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