Aunt Vadge: white bumps inside my vagina lips

Hi there Aunt Vadge,

Almost a week ago I noticed little white bumps on the inside of the top of my vagina lips. Over the next couple of days they developed into more of circles, but were still white.  Now where the white bumps were there are red flat spots that I want to describe as sores, but can’t really tell. 

There is no itching at all and it seems to be slightly getting better but I can’t tell. I couldn’t find anything online that matched my symptoms. It should also be noted I got a Brazilian wax two days before the bumps appeared and also had sex. I had an appointment to get it checked out but then my cycle started so I had to reschedule.

Last time I went to the gyno, I was treated for chlamydia in June. My partner did stop using condoms but these bumps did not appear until after I had my Brazilian wax, my UTI got way worse and my period started. I do tend to get yeast infections, I think I am getting one right now actually because of the antibiotics I am on.

And I also did a vaginal insert a little before the bumps appeared to treat bacterial vaginosis.  I haven’t made another appointment yet because the bumps started going away after I put ingrown hair serum on them. I will try and send a picture. 

Thanks,
Spotty

Dear Spotty,

It sounds like you have a lot going on:

This indicates to me that you have a systemic bacterial imbalance that really needs addressing. Antibiotics kill good bacteria as well as bad, so you have a process ahead of you to improve your insides, which were probably already overgrown with various bacteria. Your vagina also has problematic overgrowths, as evidenced by not only BV, but yeast infections and UTIs.

The white spots could be from a variety of causes, and you should have swabs taken to make sure it isn’t another STI or a severe infection. White spots can be caused by yeasts and other microbes, but you should know for sure.

It would be advisable to avoid putting any substance of dubious application onto your labia, particularly the inner labia – ingrown hair serum is not designed for mucous membranes, and therefore should never be applied to them. Without knowing the brand or ingredients, I can’t comment further, but don’t do this anymore!

What to do about the bacterial imbalance

Specific probiotic: Find yourself some refrigerated probiotics that contain large doses of the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii. They work really well for Candida and problematic yeasts. Eat them like sweets. (Ok, maybe not that many, but four per day, separated, is good.)

Food: Avoid carbohydrates both while you are on antibiotics and immediately after, and you’ll find that the yeast infection clears up much quicker. Over the next few months, eat clean, so loads of vegetables, lean meat/vegetarian sources of protein, and wholegrains, and have three servings of different probiotic foods (ferments) each and every day.

Fermented foods: Antibiotics are problematic for all the above listed problems because they ultimately leave you with nothing to protect yourself, and the solution is not more antibiotics, but more probiotic foods, careful eating, and caring for your gut. See our ferments page for some suggestions, but the internet is absolutely chocka block full of fermenting fans. Learn to ferment, or find a good source of raw ferments to buy from.

Emotional sphere: This also means caring for your mind and emotions, so if you are stressed, stop it! Stress hormones are really detrimental to all body systems, including your immunity and in particular vaginal flora: cortisol (your stress hormone) curbs the excretion of glycogen in the vaginal cells, which is the food source for your good bacteria that live there. It’s that simple, and that complicated. It matters what you put into your body, how you feel, and what you do.

All bacteria that live in your vagina tend to inhabit the whole area, including your urethra, so any deficiency in good bacteria anywhere results in easier infections, since there is nothing around to defend you.

BV treatment: If you need some help with the BV, we have a specialised treatment program to get rid of the bacterial biofilm, detailed in our book, Killing BV. The BV treatment will depend on how bad your BV is, but it would appear that it hasn’t responded to antibiotics if you still have either a positive test or symptoms, putting it into the ‘recurrent’ category. This version is much harder to get rid of, because of the sticky bacterial biofilm, so a targeted approach is very useful. You can read about the treatments and science behind them on our BV page.

You sound like you could use a bit of a flora do-over, so while I don’t know your personal circumstances and can’t advise you regarding how this works with any underlying conditions you may have, these general guidelines will be a very good start for you. They are not as easy as “oh just do this” – you may need to make some sweeping changes to the way you eat and drink, but your body is trying to tell you something, so listen.

In Eastern medicine, there are only two reasons why you get sick: 

  1. you aren’t providing your body everything it needs to protect itself; or
  2. you are not eliminating wastes properly.

How to keep the microbial balance

In your case, it seems you aren’t providing your body with what it needs to protect itself (you), primarily. That is, enough of the right food to repopulate and feed the good bacteria and halt the excessive growth of the bad. This isn’t about ‘good’ food and ‘bad’ food, it’s about providing the right food for your army of helpful microbes – yeasts, bacteria, and whatever weird things grow in between.

If you think of your body like the home of the microbes that actually keep you alive and healthy, eating for them becomes a bit easier. They love fibre, nutrients and water, they hate poisons. It’s actually not that hard when you keep it very simple. You know what the right foods are, and what isn’t going to help, because we all know this stuff. Avoid stuff out of packets, freezers, and tins. Cook.

Clean up your insides, and you’ll find that your infections reduce significantly, but this isn’t just a quick fix – this is understanding that your microbial balance is currently swayed too far in the wrong direction, and continuing to allow this to happen can have some really far-reaching consequences for your intestinal health, not just the annoyance of frequent infections.

Getting help

There is no shame in asking for some targeted help once in a while from someone who knows what they’re doing. It might be helpful for you to visit a naturopath, holistic nutritionist, or herbalist, who can give you some assistance to speed this process up (to reduce the intermediate infections while you heal up), and advice about what to eat, herbs you can take that promote healthy microflora, and other tips and tricks for cleaning up your insides so it is a good place for your friendly microbes to live.

A treatment for your vagina today may be to insert some probiotics vaginally to help speed up your recovery. It certainly won’t do any harm, though as with all treatments, if it hurts or causes a bad reaction, stop.

If you need help with anything further, we’d love to hear from you. Write anytime.

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.
Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

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