“I did feel nice – everything was relieved down under.” But who’s it all supposed to please – the woman or her man?
All Arti knew about the ‘vagina spa’ concept was that a friend of a friend had been there as “a surprise for her boyfriend”. He was supposedly impressed by his girlfriend’s fresh and fragrant vagina. It gave her confidence a boost, and they had fantastic sex that night, Arti’s friend said.
But do you really want to have your vagina massaged by some lady in a uniform? “I was reluctant at first but then thought it would be a good experience,” Arti says.
The spa session kicked off with a high-tech ‘electro-stimulation machine’, which sends vibrations through the body, and is supposed to strengthen the vaginal muscles.
Arti then had to squat uncomfortably to dip her vagina in a wooden bucket of steaming water, scented with a mixture of herbs. One of them was betel leaf, which in Indonesia is believed to have a lot of health benefits for women, including freshening the vagina. Another of the herbs is meant to make the vagina tighter.
Step three was a five-minute massage “to relax the muscles and help the blood flow better”. And Arti found she was able to get over her inhibitions.
“I liked this part because it felt good down there. It's almost like when you have a terrible headache and you massage your head and press certain spots then your head felt lighter.”
The next step was a traditional Javanese treatment called ratus, or ‘fogging’, which probably sparked the whole vagina spa concept. You sit in a chair with a hole in the seat over a pot of hot charcoal. Then your vagina is smoked with various herbs.
It’s actually such a popular treatment that there are lots of shops in Jakarta selling equipment for you to do it at home, Arti says. But she wasn’t so keen: “I felt like a piece of red meat on a barbecue.”
The final treatment was a paper poultice stuffed with mint leaves and other secret ingredients which Arti had to tuck in her underwear for ten minutes “to freshen up the vaginal area”.
But what exactly is the point of it all? For one thing, it’s supposed to have health benefits. Customers range from high school students to married women, and a lot of them come because they have a common complaint like a yeast infection, the vagina therapist says.
Though it’s questionable whether any of the treatments would be of any benefit. After all, anything that upsets the vagina’s natural bacterial balance is more likely to make a yeast infection flare up.
“It's more or less like going to a hair salon and you asked for a cream bath treatment,” says Arti. “When done, you feel that your hair is the most beautiful of all, you feel great and it just smells good.”
But the spa treatment largely seems geared to pleasing your partner, with effects like tightening the vagina or making it smell nice – which assumes he doesn’t like a vagina’s natural sexy smell.
One aim of the ‘fogging’ treatment is to make your vagina dry. In Indonesia, as in parts of Africa and other areas of the world, this is supposed to make sex feel better for the man, Arti says. Despite the fact that it’s likely to mean uncomfortable sex for the woman.
So did Arti’s tight, fragrant and pampered vagina please the man in her life? Sadly we’ll never know. She’s single.
Arti Bebasari (not her real name) is a writer based in Jakarta.
Would you visit the vagina spa?