A vaginal methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection can be quite hard to get rid of and sometimes very serious. MRSA is resistant to its usual treatment, methicillin, due to overuse of antibiotics and people not taking the full course, causing bacteria to mutate and develop resistance. MRSA is also resistant to vancomycin and doxycycline.
Staph normally lives in our noses and on our bodies, and it is kept in check by other microbes and general defences. Problems can arise when there is broken skin or our defenses are down.
Staph bacteria create biofilms, which adhere to your vaginal surfaces and make it harder to get rid of, compared to planktonic – free-floating – bacteria. MRSA is sexually transmitted directly into the vagina (and other areas), but because it is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, any contact with anyone, including a sexual partner, can spread it. Condoms cannot prevent infection.
Symptoms of MRSA infection
- Small painful pimples or boils in and around the vaginal area, buttocks and legs
- Infection site is red and warm
- Boils may be filled with pus
- Purulent (pus-laden) discharge
- May have blood
- Fishy or foul odour
- Pain during intercourse (dyspareunia)
- Painful urination (dysuria)
- Vaginal itch
What to do if you suspect MRSA
If you suspect MRSA, stop having sex immediately until a diagnosis and successful treatment for both partners is undertaken, but also don’t share towels or other items. Get yourself to a doctor ASAP, since this infection can, left unchecked, kill people – it wipes out thousands of vulnerable people every year.
Stay away from others as much as you can, keep everything very hygienic, and wait for further instructions from your infectious disease doctor. You are advised to go directly to the infectious disease specialist, and not waste your time with your doctor, since errors are common and you don’t have time to waste.