Hi Aunt Vadge,
Ever since I started having sex, my vagina became quite itchy and would sometimes split near the top of my labia. I based this down to thrush and bought myself some treatment but that didn’t help. After about 2-3 months, I went to the doctor to see what was wrong because it began to knock my confidence and made me feel a bit rubbish. The doctor wasn’t much help at all and after I told him that I’d treated for thrush already so I didn’t think it was that, he gave me more thrush treatment with a pessary and cream. I followed the doctors orders and used the treatment and surprisingly I felt like it had worked, that was until last week when it all started again and I have another split at the top of my labia and it’s sore and itchy.
Do you have any idea about what could be wrong with me? I just want some sort of idea because it’s getting me down:(
If the thrush cream worked, then it seems reasonably clear that you have a yeast problem. This doesn’t, however, mean that more antifungals is the answer, since a localised treatment for thrush can only go so far. The yeast lives all through your digestive tract, and therefore when you are treating yeast, you should start from the top down. That is, from the mouth.
I see you are 18, which means you probably don’t have much of your own money and someone else maybe still cares for your bills and food. All this means is that you will need to ask for what you need to solve this problem.
You will need:
- A good women’s probiotic designed to get rid of yeast – ask at your local health food store for a good one. It should be in the fridge. At first, until your symptoms go away, take 2-4 capsules per day with food, to help resolve the immediate problem, but then continue to take at least two per day either at once or morning and night for as long as the bottle lasts. If you still have symptoms after a whole bottle of probiotics, you need to write back to me/see another doctor, because there is something else happening.
- If you have access to some more money, buy yourself some N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which you should take orally on an empty stomach, about 2-4 grams per day, for about three months. If you get the crystals, mix them with water and drink it, but tablets will also be fine. (I prefer the crystals – it also works in your mouth too, so if you have plaque, the NAC will break down the biofilm that is plaque on your teeth – it’s pretty great stuff!)
Now, you may feel a tiny bit nauseous from the NAC, but you are about to learn a solid lesson about gut biofilms that hopefully you will never forget. Biofilms are a major cause of chronic, recurrent infections just like what you are experiencing, and while there are many enzyme products that can dissolve them, I love NAC because it’s inexpensive and very effective, and gets turned into one of our body’s most effective antioxidants.
A biofilm is a slimy coating on your inside cells that is created by a fungus or bacteria. It gives them a safe place to stay. Your good bacteria also create biofilms, but it’s likely that our love of antibiotics has meant our gut bacteria gets out of whack at the drop of a hat, and bad fungus or bacteria has the opportunity to make a biofilm that can stay put and predispose us to keep on getting that same infection – in your case an overgrowth of yeast – over and over. This happens with urinary tract infections and bacterial vaginosis, just to name two. Thank your lucky stars it’s ‘just’ yeast. It tends to be less awful than those other two, but no less annoying, uncomfortable, or mysterious at times.
Yeast is well-known to cause cuts and tears on your vulva, and leave you feeling really raw. You can use the probiotics both vaginally and orally, but if you use them vaginally, make sure they are in veggie caps, not gelatin caps, because gelatin must be broken down by acid (like stomach acid), because it’s a protein, whereas veggie caps are broken down in a neutral pH like water, and your vagina. Your vagina is slightly acidic, but it’s not designed to break down proteins in the same way as your belly, and gelatin caps are designed for the stomach.
Watch what you eat while you start your treatment, and if you tolerate dairy, try adding in some live yoghurt to your diet on a regular basis. It really matters, and can help stop opportunistic fungus or bacteria from becoming a full-blown infection or an ongoing imbalance. (The bacteria do travel, and are the same ones that keep your vagina healthy, lactobacilli).
Also cut back on carbs for a few days at the start of your treatment, and any time that you feel a yeast infection coming on later in life, remember that carbohydrates like potato, white rice, sugar, wheat, pasta, and so on, feed yeast. They absolutely love it, and they will bloom, while you are trying to get rid of them. So just opt for another type of food while you try to get your gut back on track at the start. Some people can even manage yeast infections just by cutting out carbs for a few days. Remove the food source and you remove the fuel for the bloom.
In terms of your doctor, find a doctor who takes your concerns seriously and can explain to you what they think is happening. A woman doctor would be a great start – you can learn so much good stuff off a good doctor, and you should always seek out practitioners who you trust and feel listen to you. There are so many great doctors around – if you can, next time, seek one out. Ask around for a great female doctor, who can walk you through your twenties – STDs, pregnancy scares, yeast infections, weird stuff whatever that may be. Don’t give repeat visits to practitioners who do not suit your needs. Life’s too short for doctors who don’t get you!