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Itchily in love
June 21, 2009 3:52 AM   Subscribe

Is there any sensible way to remove semen from one's vagina after intercourse? (nsfw)

Some background: I am on the pill, my partner and I have both had recent clear STI tests, this question is not about contraception and YANA/MD.

We're in a LDR at the moment and only get to see each other for the odd weekend when we have time off work. Naturally in that time we have absurd amounts of sex. Besides the inevitable back pain, bruising, abrasions and dehydration afterwards (heh), I always seem to end up with a yeast infection.

It stands to reason that a sticky, alkaline, sugary substance coating the walls of my vagina, plus frequent, vigorous aeration would encourage dear ol' Candida albicans, and some googling seems to back that up.

Now, I'd rather live with the yeast infections than go back to condoms, but is there some way I could just clear the stuff out after we've done the deed? All I've heard about vaginal douching is that it is a Bad Thing and encourages and spreads all sorts of nasty infections, so I'm guessing that's not the way? Is there another solution?
posted by teraspawn to Health & Fitness (43 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
A handheld showerhead?
posted by murrey at 3:57 AM on June 21, 2009


I was under the impression that men can also be carriers for yeast infections: That means that even if you get it cleared up yourself, he can be giving it back to you next time he comes over.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:57 AM on June 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


murrey - wouldn't that just have the same effect as douching?
posted by teraspawn at 4:27 AM on June 21, 2009


Peeing right after sex is supposed to be a natural rinse of sorts, but you could get your hands on one of those peritoneal rinse bottles they send home with women post-partum. Do check into your partner as a carrier.
posted by njbradburn at 4:29 AM on June 21, 2009


My understanding is that douches include ingredients other than the plain water you would get from a showerhead.
posted by murrey at 4:55 AM on June 21, 2009


This isn't a direct answer, but I knew someone who used to take these cranberry pills from the drugstore preventatively - she's in a very similar situation with a long distance relationship and also prone to yeast infections, and she would start taking them for a while before the visit and she found that she stopped getting yeast infections.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:07 AM on June 21, 2009


The problem with douches is that it changes the vaginal flora, and the force of the water moves bacteria into the cervix, causing PID.

Unless I've been doing it wrong all these years, urinating does not clean inside, where semen is after sex. Urinating after sex is good to help prevent urinary tract infections, not yeast infections.

Perhaps ask your doctor why you have recurring infections. Causes can be a low immune system, treatment-resistant yeast, taking certain antibiotics, or diabetes. Depending on your doctor, expect push-back on the idea that it is sexually transmitted and that your partner should be given medicine to treat him as well.
posted by Houstonian at 5:14 AM on June 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


I disagree about peeing right after sex. Check out anatomies and you'll see that female plumbing is not the same as male plumbing. The urine wouldn't be helpful except perhaps on the outer bits, which is not what I ken this question is about.

My friend Heather runs/funds a site called Scarleteen which has all sort of articles for folks about this kind of thing, and is a good resource in general for adults even though it's marketed towards teens and young adults.

Here's an answer from there that seems to directly address your concerns. It sounds like the mechanical presence of semen in your vagina may not be the cause of your yeast infections and there are other factors for you to examine as well.
posted by kalessin at 5:19 AM on June 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Weird question -- do you use lube? If you do, check to see whether glycerin is one of the ingredients you use. If it is, THAT could be the problem right there.

I used to have the same problem -- getting a lot of yeast infections that would start off at about the time I had sex after a dry spell -- and then one day I realized that "wait. Glycerin...is sugar." I went out of my way to use a glycerin-free lube then -- and I haven't had a single yeast infection ever since.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:44 AM on June 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


There's this pill called Yeast Guard which is made specifically to control yeast infections... I believe CVS sells it, and it's only about $10. You should also look into changing your diet by cutting back on breads and upping the yogurt intake.
posted by wild like kudzu at 5:44 AM on June 21, 2009


I can't speak to the yeast infection issue, but I've always found doing a series of Kegel exercises on the toilet while peeing gets most of the semen out. YMMV.
posted by dirtmonster at 5:53 AM on June 21, 2009


I have no idea what I'm talking about, but I heard that porn stars use some sort of vinegar and water douche after a scene. (The vagina is naturally acidic, so I'm guessing that this doesn't disrupt things as much as, say, plain water.) Again, I just heard this once, and I have no idea what I'm talking about.
posted by zeek321 at 6:06 AM on June 21, 2009


Seconding/Thirding the peeing after the deed.
posted by ShadePlant at 6:08 AM on June 21, 2009


Yeast Guard is quite literally just a placebo. It's "homeopathically diluted to 28x", which means that none of the initial supposedly active ingredient is present anymore. 28x is 10^-28. Don't waste your money.

Whether eating yogurt does anything to help prevent yeast infections is not clear; the evidence is mixed. But since it's healthy as long as it isn't slathered in sugar, hey, it won't hurt and it may help. Those studies that do show a benefit only show it with very regular yogurt consumption; like every single day. Like I said at worst it is a good excuse to eat yogurt.
posted by Justinian at 6:22 AM on June 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I started taking acidophilus after experiencing something similar to you and now can't remember my last yeast infection. Its available at any drug store.
posted by Unred at 6:36 AM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


You should check with your gyno--it's possible that it's some other form of infection. Also, is cunnilingus going on? Check your SO's tongue. If it's white-ish, it could be thrush, and he needs to be treated for yeast, too.

Also, you could just use condoms or the withdrawal method to see if it's really the semen that's doing it to you.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:39 AM on June 21, 2009


I am prone to yeast infections, and lingering semen never fails to cause a flare-up. Doing Kegels on the toilet afterward as dirtmonster suggested above does get rid of most of it; I find it helps to alternate several Kegels with bearing down for a few seconds, and repeat that cycle a few times. However, I usually end up having to clean out the last remaining bit with my finger in the shower. It's tenacious stuff.
posted by purplemonkie at 6:59 AM on June 21, 2009


Peeing and cranberry are both measures to prevent against urinary tract infections. Yeast infections are a completely separate thing; they occur in the vaginal tract, not the urinary tract.

A friend had chronic yeast infections and swears by the candida diet. It seems a little extreme to me, but she went from being completely unable to clear them to never having one.

If you're interested in clearing semen, I'd suggest standing up right after sex, and then showering rather than douching, using your hands to clear what semen you can. My guess is that douching could just drive the semen farther up.
posted by palliser at 7:01 AM on June 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm a bit surprised how many women do not know where their urethra is. So that it's clear to the poster why urinating will not remove semen in her vagina, please look at this labeled photograph. Notice where the urethra is.
posted by Houstonian at 7:08 AM on June 21, 2009 [10 favorites]


Is there any possibility that your allergic to the soap he's using? I'm allergic to Irish Spring, and when I have a partner who uses it, it always causes irritation and infections. I assume it has to do with one or more of the ingredients disrupting the pH of my vagina. You can also take acidophilus in capsule form which will help prevent yeast infections. You can buy it at most Whole Foods or from vitamin stores.
posted by katemcd at 7:25 AM on June 21, 2009


I recently saw a commercial for Rephresh that is supposed to balance your ph levels. I haven't used it before, but I was interested.

I've always used boric acid suppositories before that I got from the doctor. They were also designed to keep your body inhospitable to yeast for a longer period of time and prevent infection. I had to get a prescription, but they were very cheap.
posted by aetg at 8:15 AM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


The peeing afterwards is to clear any "residue" to prevent UTI.
posted by gjc at 8:43 AM on June 21, 2009


Great ideas here. Don't forget the simple solution to add more yoghurt to your diet, too.
posted by batmonkey at 8:59 AM on June 21, 2009


I'd like to call attention to dunkadunc's comment:

I was under the impression that men can also be carriers for yeast infections: That means that even if you get it cleared up yourself, he can be giving it back to you next time he comes over.


This. I was in the exact same situation as you for months, until I finally came to this realization and made my boyfriend take a diflucan pill. Men are often asymptomatic carriers, and given that you have them so often and have unprotected sex, I'd be surprised if your SO didn't have one. Get him to take one a week or so before you next see each other so that you can stop passing it back and forth.
posted by telegraph at 9:03 AM on June 21, 2009


It could also be that the hormonal birth control you're taking makes your body more susceptible to yeast infections (because of the ways it changes your cervical mucus). This has been a common side effect for many women ever since birth control pills. It could be that if you change the type of birth control pills you're taking (I've read that it's most likely the estrogen in the pill rather than the progesterone, so a lower estrogen component could be helpful, or even a different type of progesterone--you can talk to your gyn about it and get some info on different types of pills), you may see a difference.

And yes, to echo many others, stay away from douching, for the reason that it depletes natural, healthy vaginal flora.

This community on LiveJournal has an extensive and helpful archive of information on all sorts of vagina-related topics, including YI treatment and prevention (lots of info about how to use yogurt, garlic, and other natural remedies too): http://community.livejournal.com/vaginapagina/.
posted by so_gracefully at 9:21 AM on June 21, 2009


How are you traveling to see him? I know women in my family, including me, who are prone to infections when we're sitting on a plane for hours at a time -- something about the sweat, maybe. If you're flying back and forth to see him, maybe that combined with the, erm, residue is creating just the right environment. This doesn't help with solving the problem, but maybe it'll help identify the root cause.
posted by olinerd at 9:27 AM on June 21, 2009


Best bit of advice I ever got was to re-innoculate the area with friendly bacteria using a live culture yoghurt - as in, use the yoghurt as a pessary, not as a dessert. Sounds gross, but it works.
posted by Jilder at 9:31 AM on June 21, 2009


The evidence that eating yogurt helps prevent yeast infections just isn't there. (Review article here)

A patchwork of small and shoddily controlled studies have returned both positive and negative results, meaning that there's no consensus on whether it works or not. For one, there are significant questions as to whether Lactobacillus can survive the GI tract in large enough numbers for rectal-to-vaginal transmission to be feasible.

There are also claims that intravaginal application of yogurt or L. acidophilus cultures may help them outcompete yeast, but again, the evidence is thin and the results have been mixed.

So adding some yogurt to your diet certainly won't hurt you, but don't expect it to be a miracle cure.
posted by chrisamiller at 9:41 AM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Peeing afterward is to help prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). Cranberrry juice/etc.. is to help take care of that, also. Yeast infection is a different beast! Consult your physician. Men can carry yeast infections, so he could be giving it back to you.
posted by 6:1 at 9:56 AM on June 21, 2009


I like how no one's directly answering this poor woman's original question. IANAWNDIGYI (I am not a woman nor do I get yeast infections), but Kegel's and Valsalva over the toilet seem like your best answer for sperm expulsion. I popped into this thread because I was curious if someone knew of some kind of turkey baster device that does this. The reason why douches aren't recommended is partially the PID thing, but mostly because they alter the chemistry and natural ecology of that area and can actually make you more prone to things like yeast infections.

I was under the impression that men can also be carriers for yeast infections: That means that even if you get it cleared up yourself, he can be giving it back to you next time he comes over.


Candida is a ubiquitous organism. It lives on skin, on floors, on surfaces we touch all the time. You never eliminate completely it with antifungals. It only causes a problem when it gets a toehold somewhere that conditions favor its growth -- a diabetic with uncontrolled blood sugars, in a baby that sits in messy diapers, and in a vagina that is too alkaline to support the lactobaccilli that normally outcompete candida. I think it is safe to say that most penises have a few candida on them. Whether you are "catching" this from your partner is hard to say. It is possible for men to have what you'd call a true yeast infection, look for redness and discharge around the glans particularly in uncircumsized men, and I would say your chances of "catching" a yeast infection in this situation are greater but this is not the kind of situation that you or your partner is likely to not notice.

The question of recurrent yeast infections comes up all the time in my office. We consider diabetes, ask about douching, particular lubricants, ask if the partner's had symptoms, recommend breathable cotton underwear and loose fitting clothes. I realize the evidence is mixed about yogurt and acidophilus but I usually tell people to use this as safe, possibly helpful thing to do.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:56 AM on June 21, 2009


I used to have a problem with recurring yeast infections. Yogurt never helped but the acidophilus pills certainly do. I tended to get yeast infections just around my period, now I take a pill a day around that time and haven't had an infection since.
posted by sadtomato at 10:36 AM on June 21, 2009


I like how no one's directly answering this poor woman's original question.

...Possibly becasue the original question may not be a necessary step to take, and we all are thinking of easier things.

Look at it this way. Say a couple outlets in your house just suddenly stopped working, and the first thing you assume that it's because the wiring crapped out. Now say you come in here and ask how to re-wire your house -- wouldn't it make more sense for other posters to respond with, "uh....before you go to all that, have you checked the fuse box? Because a fuse may be all it is, and that's a hell of a lot easier."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:46 AM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like how no one's directly answering this poor woman's original question.

What Empress said, and also you must have missed all of the following comments:
A handheld showerhead?

Peeing right after sex is supposed to be a natural rinse of sorts, but you could get your hands on one of those peritoneal rinse bottles they send home with women post-partum.

I have no idea what I'm talking about, but I heard that porn stars use some sort of vinegar and water douche after a scene.

I've always found doing a series of Kegel exercises on the toilet while peeing gets most of the semen out.

Doing Kegels on the toilet afterward as dirtmonster suggested above does get rid of most of it; I find it helps to alternate several Kegels with bearing down for a few seconds, and repeat that cycle a few times. However, I usually end up having to clean out the last remaining bit with my finger in the shower.

I'd suggest standing up right after sex, and then showering rather than douching, using your hands to clear what semen you can.

Aside from the UTI confusion, she's gotten a whole bunch of responsive, er, responses.
posted by palliser at 11:37 AM on June 21, 2009


I know nothing about this other than the bizarre infomercial I saw on TV. WaterWorks Natural Vaginal Therapy.
posted by nimsey lou at 12:12 PM on June 21, 2009


I watch The Doctors and that WaterWorks is on the commercials all the time. They said it was featured on an episode of The Doctors in March, but I didn't see what they actually said about it. While I've heard bad things about douching too, it seems like it would at least be a little more thorough than a shower head.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:32 PM on June 21, 2009


Please double check that it is a yeast infection. Vaginal irritation is commonly misdiagnosed as yeast, and when I have sexual relations with my partner at certain times of the month it gets chaffed. I must have gone through six months of yeast pills, creams and pastes before I clued in that I was just ripped up, bought a tube of vagisal and have been good to go ever since.
Unless you wash it, some sperm will remain in your vagina until it naturally cleans itself. That stuff is designed to pool up near your cervix, gel and then liquefy later, which is why it can take a little while before you do the ‘ewwwww, liquids!’ trickle dance post coitus.
posted by Phalene at 1:11 PM on June 21, 2009


Seconding doing Kegel's to expel semen.

Also, is your partner uncircumcised? Uncircumcised males have a slightly higher risk of being carriers for yeast infections. Your partner could have an infection in/on his foreskin that he passes to you, you pass back to him, etc. The next time you get an infection, make sure you both are treated for it to make sure it's cleared up for both of you.
posted by pecanpies at 4:24 PM on June 21, 2009


How about simply taking a bath?
posted by mareli at 4:33 PM on June 21, 2009


incase people are still reading this:

squats in the shower

or

one of those bulbs from the baby store that gets mucus out of baby noses / throats
posted by WeekendJen at 11:40 AM on June 22, 2009


Salamandrous: "This isn't a direct answer, but I knew someone who used to take these cranberry pills from the drugstore preventatively - she's in a very similar situation with a long distance relationship and also prone to yeast infections, and she would start taking them for a while before the visit and she found that she stopped getting yeast infections."

I think that's for UTI's
posted by radioamy at 7:13 PM on June 22, 2009


The semen might not be the problem...it might just be the, um, "irritation" from all the "activity."

Why don't you try using condoms or having him pull out the next few times you see him, and see if that makes a difference? Then you'll know if it's the sex or the semen.
posted by radioamy at 7:17 PM on June 22, 2009


one of those bulbs from the baby store that gets mucus out of baby noses / throats

Hm, I don't like the idea of using something with a dark, almost-enclosed interior to shoot something up your vaginal tract. I'd think bacteria could grow in the bulb, and you could give yourself a different kind of infection.
posted by palliser at 7:32 PM on June 22, 2009


palliser - I got the impression the previous poster was suggesting it as a suction device?

Novel, but interesting idea?
posted by Elysum at 5:11 PM on June 23, 2009


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