Okay, so this post is going to be TMI all about my vagina's issues. If you have had any issues with yeast or BV in the past or currently, I highly encourage you to read it. I am not going to be shy about this, so hey, if non-vagina-equipped people read it, it's just more than they probably ever wanted to know about my body. Maybe there's a vagina-equipped person in their life for which this information could be useful.
In mid-November, I noticed some vaginal odor and recognized it as a bacterial vaginosis infection. I'd had it before in college & learned then that yeast infections smell a bit like bread and BV smells like fish. Ew. Way to put a damper on the sex drive! Neither necessarily needs to have odd discharge, and sometimes you can have odd discharge without the odor, but still have an infection. I saw the nurse practitioner that I usually see, she prescribed me with a week of pills to take. It did knock out the infection, but I was left with some external itching and irritation. Subsequent tests did not reveal presence of BV or yeast infection, but I took two courses of Diflucan (prescribed with the previous antibiotic) just in case. That didn't help.
That leads us to the past month+ of discomfort. I tried using coconut oil for relief (helped, but short lived, also weird to smell coconuts down there). I tried Vitamin E. I bought size 00 capsules & boric acid after reading about it and used it for one night as a vaginal suppository (do NOT ingest it!). It creates some very watery discharge, so if you use it, be prepared with pantiliners the next day. I think I let it sit on my external skin from the discharge and I found some peeling skin on my inner labia & freaked out. That's when my doctor prescribed Metronidazole cream, which I used nightly for one week (inserted it vaginally with the prescribed applicators). It relieved the itch only for as long as I was using it. The day after the last dose, I was itchy again.
I went back again and this time my doctor TOLD me to use the boric acid capsules. I'd read about them on Vulvapedia and some other online message boards. Vulvapedia She said one a night for 3 nights, then twice a week for a couple of weeks/as needed. I waited until my period ended & then tried it. I ran into the same issue of peeling skin AND by the second night, I had INTENSE pain at the vaginal opening as well as some fresh bleeding from inside! This was last week. I discontinued use of any treatment and started wearing Hulky's boxers with loose pants. I slept in the boxers too. I used a blow dryer on my crotch after showers, with the cooling setting on. That helped a surprising amount. By the second day, I was feeling almost all better AND the itch was severely reduced! The third day: no pain, itch was even less. Fourth day: the itch seemed gone except for a couple twinges throughout the day. I don't know what day we're at now, but the itch is finally gone!
My appointment with the nurse practitioner at this new facility was GREAT. She seemed really impressed by my knowledge of all this. She said my vaginal tissue looked REALLY healthy (she sounded really psyched about it so I felt quite proud haha). We both came to the conclusion that the boric acid worked in wiping out whatever imbalance was present, but it was probably just too much for my already compromised tissues at the time. She said she would rather have me come in to verify any future infections (pretty easy to diagnose at home based on discharge/odor), but the boric acid is perfectly fine for me to use on my own. I didn't ask about using coconut oil, but I think I will mix boric acid and coconut oil 1:1 in some capsules to have some on hand (something I read about in some online communities to reduce the severity of the boric acid). In a jar with a silica powder packet, they should last for years. The NP was not concerned about repeat infection, basically told me we'll deal with that if/when it happens. I am continuing to use the cool blowdryer under her advisement. I had sex last night and everything felt fine . I'm going to make sure to always wash up after (I am a gross person apparently and feel like this shouldn't be necessary), even if only with a washcloth and not a full shower.
So quick lesson: vaginas are acidic environments. The boric acid helps to re-acidify the vagina so that the natural bacteria balance can normalize. Whatever imbalance that was present was not candida or whatever creates BV, so the doctors couldn't identify it. They call it "non-specific vaginosis". Aka. something is wrong with your vag's flora, but we don't know what . To be fair, there's probably a lot of bacteria down there and they really don't know what's supposed to be present except for some amounts of yeast. Semen is alkaline/basic, the opposite of acidic. For people with compromised immune systems, introducing semen into the vaginal environment too often/at all could lead to bacterial imbalances & subsequent infections, though a healthy vagina should be able to rebalance on its own. When I was using birth control pills in college, I do believe this was a factor for my frequent infections. I told Hulky that our gameplan for now is a) make sure I am always well lubricated (doc gave me some medical lubricant packs haha, but I'll look for something non-irritating & unscented to purchase in larger quantities) and b) always have him withdraw. I think this will help a lot with my vaginal health. I have read that some people use a boric acid capsule after sex, but I don't think I'll go there unless I run into more issues.
Important addendum: Make sure to treat your partner if you are not using barrier methods (condoms) for sex. My infections never came up as anything when the doctor tested, but they can only test for known STI's, yeast, and bacterial vaginosis. Since we had sex one time after I was symptom free (honestly should have given it a few more days! there are other things we could have done...) and the next day I was itchy again, Hulky probably needs to be treated too. We're going to try a few nights of Monistat on him and I just made some boric acid & coconut oil suppositories to try out. As long as the coconut oil is in liquid state, it's pretty easy to mix & fill the capsules (though messy).
Feel free to PM me with any questions on this or drop a comment!