Have you heard of a sitz bath before? Also called a sitting bath, it’s a very gentle and natural way to take care of your whole pelvic area. It can be used by men and women, but for this article – and my personal experience – I’ll focus on the ways that you can use a sitz bath to care for vaginal health.
Sitz baths are commonly recommended for women in postpartum, to support healing and prevent infection. But it can also be used for regular care, to soothe discomfort, maintain vitality and to tone tissue.
So, let’s talk about how to prepare and choose ingredients for your perfect sitz bath.
What is a sitz bath?
A sitz bath is like a miniature tub that you fit into the toilet and sit into, placing your bottom in the water. This water is going to be medicinal, with herbs and botanicals. I picked up a sitz bath online for $20. If this treatment is something that interests you, it might be handy to have! Otherwise, you can find a basin that you fit into comfortably, or fill your tub only a few inches.
With a long history of use, sitz baths were a form of water healing. It was used to heal external conditions – tears, infections – but it was also used to help internal distresses too like cramping and constipation.
Below is an original sitz bath in a home built in 1914. It was a permanent fixture in the bathroom, used regularly. Compared to our modern version, the old-fashioned version looks much more roomy!
Sitting your lower body into a sitz bath can help to soothe irritations, it promotes relaxation and most people find it an enjoyable way to treat vaginal conditions. I have to say too, it feels deeply empowering to give special care to these parts of yourself. It creates flow and vivaciousness that counters the stagnation and heaviness we can feel physically and emotionally.
How often can I do it? You can do a sitz bath anytime you feel discomfort, daily until you feel better. Or, just for regular self care – once per week. Or you might create a ritual of doing your sitz bath every month.
Sitz Bath Ingredients
Here are some ingredient that you can add to your sitz bath and personalize it for your needs and wants. Click to read more on each.
Hot water relaxes, Cold water tones, Warm water soothes.
Water alone, without added ingredients, is very helpful in soothing and treating the affected area because it promotes circulation which boosts healing.
- Fill your basin with water
Cleansing and promotes healing. Look for sea salt, the kind that you would consume or you can use epsom salts. DO NOT use cosmetic salts with fragrance, or colorants.
- Pour 1/4 cup of salt into your sitz bath basin
You can use them, but in very small amounts and always with the addition of a carrier oil. Never add essential oil directly to the water – it will float on the top and may irritate your skin. Instead, add the essential oil to a carrier oil, like sweet almond oil and then pour into the water.
You might choose: lavender (antimicrobial), chamomile (anti inflammatory), rose (toning), frankincense (rejuvenating) or for a sensual aroma you might choose jasmine, vanilla or ylang ylang.
- Add 2-3 drops of essential oil to 1 teaspoon of carrier oil, like sweet almond oil.
Can help soothe irritations, rashes and rebalance a healthy skin pH. It can be helpful too in rebalancing flora – treating bacterial or yeast overgrowth.
- Always use diluted vinegar for external treatments: 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar for every cup of water that goes into your sitz bath basin.
Can nourish, heal and support the body in different ways. Any herb that you drink as tea, you can bathe in, including a sitz bath. So you can use pantry and supermarket herbs, even your herbal tea blends as long they have no favorings. Only pure herbs.
- To add herbs, make a strong herbal infusion: 2 tbsp dried herb to 2 cups of water, steep for 20 minutes. And then pour into the sitz bath.
Which herbs are best to use?
Rather than focusing on a specific herb to use – I always like to focus on herbal actions, which is a term that tells us how an herb interacts with the body. This umbrella term gives us a variety of herbs that you can choose from…
ASTRINGENT HERBS: Have a toning action on tissue. Use these herbs to help tighten and tone the vaginal wall, like an herbal kegel.
- Rose, Witch Hazel bark (or witch hazel solution), Oak Bark, Yarrow, Plantain, Self-heal, Damiana, Kava Kava, Lemon Balm, Motherwort, Pau D’arco, Raspberry Leaf, Peach leaf, Uva Ursi (good for excessive discharges)
EMOLLIENT HERBS: Rich in mucileage that hydrates and softens tissue. Use these herbs to bring moisture back to vaginal dryness. (Best to infuse emollient herbs into cold water, not hot water, to extract out the musileage)
- Marshmallow (root), Oatstraw, Linden (leaf & flower), Comfrey Leaf, Mullein, Corn Silk (you can use the silk from supermarket corn cobs) Plant oils (sweet almond oil), Peach leaf, Raspberry
ANTI-MICROBIAL HERBS: Have a cleansing action. Use these herbs to clear up urinary tract infections and yeast infections and to maintain a healthy natural flora balance of yeast and bacteria. Lemon balm is antiviral and can be used for treating herpes blisters.
- Lavender, Lemon balm, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Nettle, Organ Grapefruit, Goldenseal (only buy organically farm-grown), Ginger (a pinch – brings energy to the pelvic area,)
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERBS: Reduce swelling and inflammation. Use these herbs to soothe vaginal discomforts, alleviate pain and itching that may be associated with the cause of inflammation. Good for post-pardum healing too.
- Chamomile, Calendula, Linden, Rosemary, Damiana, Violet, Red Clover, Frankincense, Hibiscus, Plantain, Raspberry, Self-heal, Yarrow, Ginger (a pinch – brings energy to the pelvic area)
VULNERARY HERBS: Helps to heal broken tissue and tears. Use these herbs to promote healing in any vaginal issues where you might feel tender and in need of care.
- Calendula, Plantain, Comfrey (great for wounds and tears), Yarrow
All of these herbs are nourishing and promote wellness – you don’t need a specific concern or issue to use any of these herbs in a sitz bath! Use the herbs that you have available and that you enjoy.
It’s especially nice to use fragrant herbs that smell amazing and make you feel good!
Sitz Bath Recipes
A sitz bath treatment is about 10-20 minutes. Gather your ingredients, grab a book and set yourself up for an enjoyable soak. Pick inspiration below, or use the herbal actions guide above, get creative and create your own blend – and be a kitchen herbalist!
- Fold a towel behind your back to make it comfy sitting on the commode
- End the treatment with oil self massage. Lubricate your whole pelvic area, the perineum and vulva with a natural oil, like sweet almond oil. You can add a few drops of vanilla, jasmine or rose essential oil to the almond oil and create a fragrant serum.
Sitz Bath for Healing: Calendula + Chamomile + Lavender + Salt
This blend features vulnerary and anti-inflammatory herbs, really good for postpardum healing. Its a good idea to add anti-microbial herbs to prevent infection while healing.
Brew 1 tbsp of calendula, 1 tbsp chamomile, 1 tbsp lavender in 2 cups of hot water for 20 minutes. Pour into the sitz bath basin. Add ¼ cup of salt. Sit and soak.
Sitz Bath for Rebalancing Flora: Lavender + Lemon Balm + Apple Cider Vinegar
This blend features antimicrobial and anti-fungal herbs that keep bacteria and yeast infections in check. Lemon balm is also a potent antiviral, especially good to add for someone dealing with herpes blisters.
Brew 1 tbsp of lavender and 1 tbsp lemon balm in 2 cups of hot water for 20 minutes. Pour into the sitz bath basin. Add ¼ cup of salt. Sit and soak.
Sitz Bath for Juicy Vivaciousness: Linden + Rose (for energy to the pelvic area) Sweet Almond Oil + Cold Water
This blend features emollient and astringent herbs to bring moisture and to tone soft tissue. Using cold water brings energy to the area and helps the toning effect.
Combine 1 tbsp linden and 1 tbsp rose in 2 cups of cold water. Let it sit to infuse for 8-12 hours in the fridge. Prepare the sitz bath basin and pour in the cold water infusion. Add 1 teaspoon of almond oil. Sit and soak.
Sitz Bath for TLC: Rose + Lavender, Chamomile + Calendula + Salt + Sweet Almond Oil
This blend features a blend of aromatic, soothing and rejuvenating herbs. It’s a spa date for this important part of yourself.
First brew 1 tbsp each of Rose, Lavender, Chamomile, Calendula into 4 cups of hot water or 20 minute – allowing it to cool to a comfortable temperature for your skin. Pour into the sitz bath basin. Add ¼ cup of salt and 1 tsp of oil. Sit and soak
Sitz Bath Meditation: Salt + Sweet Almond Oil + Frankincense Essential OilEs + Bergamot Essential Oil
This blend features aromatic salts. If you are feeling ungrounded, uninspired, and disconnected – meditating into your pelvic area is a wonderful way to connect with and bring energy to your creativity, power, sensuality and joy for life.
In a bowl add 1 tsp sweet almond oil, 2 drops of Frankincense and 1 drop of bergamot oil (3 drops total).
Other essential oil options for meditation: Cardamom, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Jasmine, Neroli, Sweet Orange
I hope this article inspired you to set up a sitz bath, and feel the benefits of caring for your vaginal health – a part of the body that holds so much power, yet is often neglected. I like how Rosemary Gladstar put it “When its warm and flowing well down there, there’s a vivaciousness. You feel like spring is happening in your body.”