Hi there Aunt Vadge,
I am 47 and in good general health other than intermittent anxiety issues. I have been married 23 years, but have not been intimate with my husband in any way for the last three years.
I have had vaginal itching for 2+ years and saw the doctor 14 months ago. He ran tests including pap and screening for STDs, which were negative, and put me on estrogen which I didn’t take because of the cancer risks. My periods are generally regular and I have only had one incident of spotting between periods. I do notice that as I age menstruation is more uncomfortable and I do pass small clots or thickened mucousy-looking blood, not really mucous, it just holds form rather than liquid.
I still suffer with itching in the genital area. I have very dry skin and oil to the affected area seems to provide relief, as does Vagisil cream. I have been to the Dr. who found discoloration of the cervix. I am panicking uncontrollably with worry.
My partner of 10 months is a married man of 40 years. We have only ever had oral sex and used sex toys. I have had a total of three partners in the last four years.
My question is: I know he does not have an STD, so is there any chance I could? If this is an infection from the toys, could he catch it?
Sorry to hear you are so anxious. To answer your question directly, if you have had any vaginal contact with another person’s genitals or even the mouth since your last STI check, then yes, you could have an STI, but only you will know whether your sex play could have possibly passed an infection.
If discolouration of your cervix is the only clue, it seems unusual, as you would probably have more discharge and discomfort than the itching and dryness that is being attributed to your pre-menopausal state by your GP.
Considering most people assume vaginal intercourse to be the most dangerous route for infections, they may be less diligent with other sex play. Oral sex is commonly performed without a dental dam (female) or condom (male), and people touch each other’s genitals with fingers, tongues and sex toys, and then touch their own or some variation on this.
This can easily result in the transmission of infections, though admittedly it is a bit harder to make happen than the easy deposit of semen into a vagina and bacteria entering the male urethra during sex.
It is unlikely an infection was passed from a sex toy if you thoroughly wash your sex toys between uses.
There are several infections – some transmissible – that cause discolouration of the cervix. The discolouration can be caused by an infection causing inflammation, or by changes to your hormones, or by nefarious cancers. Your doctor is the only one who can advise you here and presumably he or she took a swab to do another pap test or sent you for further testing.
At this point it is very hard to say, since you don’t mention what colour your cervix had taken on. This would have given us more clues.
I would recommend you read our article on a normal cervix and how to care for it, and you can even do a self-inspection with the right tools to see what colour it was. Or you could speak to your doctor and ask.
The pap smear would have been taken to rule out cellular changes that lead to cervical cancer from HPV, or to investigate the possibility of cervical ectropion, and to check for sexually transmitted infections like trichomoniasis, so you are probably just going to have to wait – anxiously – until the results are back.
The cervix goes through some natural colour changes during your cycle, and sometimes it can have a reddish-orange look to it, be pale, or with infection it might be redder. If you are (unexpectedly) pregnant, it might be blueish. All of these are normal.
Don’t jump to any conclusions just yet though – an STI may not be the most frightening thing you have to face. Or, it could be a false alarm, and a good reason to make sure everyone you are sleeping with is taking responsibility for their sexual health.
When you find out, let us know!