Aunt Vadge: a cut at the join of my labia and clitoris hasn’t healed after three weeks

Dear Aunt Vadge, 

I have a rip or tear in the area where it joins between the clitoral hood and labia. It looks different than the other side of the fold. It hangs down from the skin fold. I looked in the mirror when I first felt it. It’s fairly tiny, but I feel sore and it burns after intercourse. I thought it was healed after a week of no intercourse, however I looked at it again and it’s not healed after three weeks not.

I am underweight and 45 years old. Also I am a raw vegan.  What should I do now? I will stop having intercourse for a while again. Should I stop until I am healed fully? Will I require stitching? Do doctors stitch this area or let it heal up, since it’s pretty small? 

Thank you.
Unhealed
Age: 45
Country/Area: California

Dear Unhealed,

It depends. Is the tear so big that the piece of flesh is just not reattaching? After three weeks, it should be healed up, not hanging loose.

There are a few options as to what’s going on, but no matter what, if you are concerned, you need to go and get examined, since I am in no position to establish whether it should be stitched back on or not.

     Hormones
You are 45, which is wandering into perimenopausal territory for many women. You don’t mention if you are still getting regular periods, but if your periods are patchy either due to declining oestrogen from natural menopause or because you are underweight, your vaginal and vulvar tissue could be suffering from slow healing. Oestrogen really keeps our vaginal and vulvar tissue in good, plump, quick-healing condition, and as soon as that starts to drop off, women can find themselves with mysterious cuts that just won’t heal.

To see if this is true, you would find some E3 (oestriol) cream and apply it vaginally for about a week and see if your cut heals up. If it does, you know oestrogen may be playing a role and you can deal with that as appropriate (but do see your doctor – you don’t want to mess with hormones without professional advice). If it doesn’t make a difference, or only makes a small difference, then you can safely assume it’s something else.

     Missing wound-healing nutrients
If you are underweight, and have been a raw-food vegan for a while, you may have found yourself a bit malnutritioned in ways you weren’t expecting, which can add to the problem by not providing enough protein or zinc to heal your simple cuts and tears. Many vegans are completely all over their food requirements, but many aren’t – if you fall into the latter category and aren’t providing your body enough protein or zinc in your diet, you could be deficient. To tell, you can look at your nails as a good indicator of how your protein levels are. If your nails are strong and smooth, good work, you are probably ok, but if they flake, are soft, peel, or have lines and bumps on them, you could do with a regular protein injection.

It can be a bit harder to tell if you are zinc deficient, but at a healthfood store ask for liquid zinc to do the zinc tally test. Alternatively, supplement with a really good zinc, for example Thorne Zinc Picolinate, available off iHerb. The type of zinc you supplement with does matter, as some are much more bioavailable than others.

These aren’t the only two, but they’re the main two involved in healing flesh. You are presumably getting plenty of vitamins and minerals for the most part, so these are two things you can try reasonably inexpensively at home.

If you have any gut issues that might inhibit absorption of your nutrients, then that needs to be addressed, since you might be eating sufficient, but not absorbing properly. Have a bit of a think about this and see if you can see any holes in your diet. It could even be a combination of both of these things.

     Reattachment
You’ll need to speak to your doctor about this – it’s too hard to tell from afar.

     What else to do in the interim
You are right – stop having sex until you figure out what the problem is, since it’s just damaging your vulva more. You can use a little bit of something like Vaseline to protect the wound as it heals.

Feel free to write back to discuss if you need more help here.

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge

 

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
Read more about Jessica and My Vagina's origin story.