Aunt Vadge: tear that hasn’t healed in three months

Dear Aunt Vadge, 

Ok so three months ago, my boyfriend fingered me, and the next day I noticed a tear in my labia minora. It didn’t hurt though. But it didn’t seem to heal. A couple weeks after, me and my boyfriend had sex even though I had a tear, and now it’s a bit worse.

But now it’s been three months and it still hasn’t healed. I really don’t want to go to a doctor because I don’t want my parents to know . But I don’t know how to make it heal faster. Do you have any tips? 

Canada, Age: 17

Dear Broken,

Three months is way too long for a labial cut to remain open. There could be a few reasons for this, none of them particularly fun, so you may need to start getting over the idea that you can’t visit a doctor. You may need to get tested. But, let’s go through the easy, not-bad stuff first.

Yeast or fungus

A yeast or fungal overgrowth can cause labial cuts and tears that don’t heal, but you’d probably notice if you had a yeast infection that bad. If this is the case, you can look at the yeast infections page for more information on how to clear that up at home using cheap ingredients (like fermented foods).

You are constantly irritating it

If you wear tight underwear, panty liners or something else that is constantly rubbing on your labia, you may find the cut is constantly irritated, and can’t heal. This seems unlikely, since you are presumably aware of what is touching your vagina, though it does warrant some thought. So no masturbating, no sex, no nothing. Don’t touch it until you figure out what the problem is.

You are having a reaction to something that is touching your labia – let’s experiment

You could have triggered a small dermatitis-like response on your labia from the cut, so it would pay to check your laundry detergent, soaps, toilet paper, panty liners, and anything else you use near or on your vulva or vagina. Make sure everything is hypoallergenic if possible. I realise you don’t get to choose the laundry detergent, but you could check the sort your family uses, and perhaps suggest another brand (you could say it made your skin itchy), or if you have your own money, you can buy your own laundry liquid and do your own washing. It’s worth trying.

Try just washing your vagina in plain warm water for a week in conjunction with all these other things, and see if it makes a difference. You don’t need soap, at least for the experiment. When you buy your next soap, make sure it’s something very plain (no perfumes, colours, harsh ingredients) like goat milk soap or a hypoallergenic variety. There are many around.

Make sure you don’t have prints on your toilet paper and that it is unscented, uncoloured, and not the cheapest, crappiest brand, at least for the duration of the experiment.

Don’t douche, use panty liners or tampons or pads or menstrual cups where possible – do the experiment outside of your period.

Now the less fun stuff

Lichenoid autoimmune conditions

You could have the starting point of a lichenoid condition or other immune-related condition that affects the vulva. Some of these can be quite unpleasant, life-long, and may require medication to keep them at bay, however this is something you need to get onto earlier rather than later. If you do everything above, and nothing works, you are going to need to go and see a vagina doctor. Try to skip your regular doctor and go straight for the gynaecologist, since regular doctors rarely treat vaginas, and it’s likely you’ll get sent home with some steroid cream and told not to wear tight undies.

Steroid cream can clear up many conditions temporarily, and sometimes send them back where they came from, but if you do have a problem like this, you do need to know about it, not mask the symptoms until it pops up again. These conditions can be difficult to diagnose anyway.

You have an oestrogen problem

This is really unlikely, but it’s possible if you are underweight or have other conditions that could cause low oestrogen symptoms. Low oestrogen causes atrophic vaginitis and results in easy tearing, poor healing, and other vagina problems. You would also probably be missing periods if this was the case, but it should be ruled out.

You have something else going on in your body

There are lots of reasons for a cut not to heal, but in a 17-year-old, most of them are highly unusual. It is not the sort of thing we can make too many guesses at without knowing more about you, so these are our initial thoughts. It doesn’t mean you have any of these things, which is why you may need to see someone who can examine you, do some tests, and see what’s going on.

You can also say to your parents that you have something wrong with you that was not caused by sexual activity – stuff happens all the time. I remember once I tore my vulva by mistake when I was washing myself in the shower – stuff happens, and you don’t need to confess your sexual sinnery to your folks just so you can get examined. If it’s more serious, you need to know, so you can get onto it.

Write a diary of your symptoms – does anything make it better? worse? it’s never changed? Write down dates and any important events around those dates, for example was it a day you changed what you were eating, or your family changed detergents, or something… Try to find trigger causes and sustaining causes, which is things that could be keeping the cut there. Brainstorm with your boyfriend and come up with as many reasons why as you can, and then eliminate them one by one. It’s really much better for you if it’s not serious! But it is a process of elimination.

Good luck finding the cause, and if you get stuck, write anytime. We’re happy to help.

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge