Help me help my lady bits
April 10, 2014 1:14 PM   Subscribe

I’ve been suffering from bacterial vaginosis and/or yeast infection for the last year and could use all the help I can get.

My first attempt to cure this was last April, went to PP, got the BV diagnosis and oral medication. It almost, but not quite, cleared up. A few months later, I went back and got the vaginal medication, didn’t seem to help at all. The next visit ended with a Yeast infection diagnosis, which I guess cleared up with medication. My last try was in December, BV diagnosis again, very aggressive treatment plan with no results.
At that time, the Doc suggested I get checked for Diabetes. Did that in January and got a type II diagnosis. I’ve been on meds for that since mid-February. I also take Rituxin for Rheumatoid arthritis, which may mess with my body’s immune system. Since Feb I’ve radically changed my diet, dropping my usual 30+ daily ounces of Coke and other sweets. Lost 20 pounds this year, weigh just over 200 lbs total
But I still have this nasty, evil constant discharge of yellowish goo. Every day. For a year. And it’s often itchy, which could be yeast again or could be from the irritation of being constantly wet. I’m fairly certain I have sores and scratches, I can’t see for sure and don’t dare ask my husband to look. I’m going through 2-3 pantyliners a day, which probably aren’t helping, but I can’t imagine how messy things would get without them.
So… HELP. What can I do at home to bring some health and well-being back to my body? I know that I’ll need one more doctor’s visit, but I want to be in the best shape to have the next round of treatment actually work.
posted by saffry to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Have you read The V Book: A Doctor's Guide to Complete Vulvovaginal Health? I found it helpful (checked it out from the local public library).
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 1:30 PM on April 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have used plain yogurt-not to eat but to use as a medication in that area. It worked quite well but your milage may vary. And you may want to not use it directly from the frige!
posted by shaarog at 1:33 PM on April 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

I feel for you! I have no cure, but will suggest you see a new clinician and make it an OBGYN. Ask your woman friends for a woman-centered problem-solver.

And when you call the office, ask the staffer for her recommendation - "can you suggest a doctor to me who is really good at problem-solving? I'm having a year-long problem and I'm starting to lose my mind."

At home: I'd be desperate enough to try gauze wrapped garlic cloves. Cut all usages out of your diet (even the carbs). Blow dry your bits with a hair dryer (on COLD setting) when you get out if the shower. Sleep with no underwear on. Buy flannel pads or the organic-no-perfume-no-bleach hippy pads. Think natural.
posted by vitabellosi at 1:34 PM on April 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Congrats on taking control of your health and your diabetes. Definitely go to the doctor now, especially if you are feeling pain! Don't wait to be in the "best shape" or spend months trying folk remedies unless you are philosophically inclined to go that route.

I was bouncing between BV and UTIs last year and a doctor prescribed pills of boric acid that I would insert vaginally every other day. My health down there eventually cleared up - no idea if it was the boric acid, eating yogurt, etc. My doctor doesn't know either, just said that there are a lot of unknowns about recurring BV.

You deserve quality care. If your doctor is dismissive, get another doctor. One who is committed to trying various treatments instead of delivering a verdict from "on high." Good luck.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 1:38 PM on April 10, 2014

First of all, I would switch to organic cotton liners instead of the petrochemical ones. They're reusable; you just chuck them in the laundry with your regular wash and they are very kind to your hoohoo.

Second, I would spend the weekend with your ladybits bathed in live yogurt. DRENCHED in it.

Third, I'd shove a garlic clove up there.

Fourth, I'd stop using soap. Rinse with water only. Your hoohoo does not need soap.

Fifth, I would absolutely positive not have intercourse with your husband until he is also treated. There is a high chance he's passing it back to you even if he is asymptomatic. If your GYN doesn't agree, get another GYN.

Sixth, I'd make unsweetened cranberry juice the only thing you drink other than water until this clears up.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:39 PM on April 10, 2014 [9 favorites]

If you use lube with glycerin, stop. I had recurring BV until I did so, myself.

I'm sure your doctor(s) have suggested this to you, but no one suggested it to me and I just thought it was attributable to sloppy sex, not to put too fine a point on it.
posted by janey47 at 1:39 PM on April 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

Boric acid put into gelatin capsules and used as vaginal suppositories worked OK for me back when I was having recurring problems like this.

But in retrospect, the thing that made my problems finally go away completely was to stop eating processed food. I have no idea what your diet is like, but if it includes junk food, sugar, or anything that's not single-ingredient foods like chicken, fish, vegetables, etc. then you might want to give whole foods a whirl. Can't hurt, might help.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:42 PM on April 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, to help with dampness short-term, at least, I recommend Poise pads -- they're by the Depends people, so they're designed to handle liquids and keep them away from your skin. Way better than regular shields on both smell and feel fronts.
posted by acm at 1:43 PM on April 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Have you tried taking acidophilus orally? It promotes good bacterial growth. (make sure you get the refridgerated kind) And i'd look into a new doctor - a year is so awful, you have my uptmost sympathies.
posted by agregoli at 1:44 PM on April 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Go straight to the nuclear option: boric acid suppositories.
posted by medusa at 1:46 PM on April 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Has your sexual partner been checked for it? My husband kept reinfecting me, it took us over a year to work it out but finally my doctor suggested it. I'd get it cleared up with meds and creams then bam it'd be back again. He took a dose of the tablets and used some cream for a week or so and no flare ups since. It can also take several rounds of treatment to clear up, and some people have to go on weekly or daily regular doses to keep it at bay which was an option we were looking at before we narrowed the source down.

Also if you like to use any toys in the bedroom make sure they are getting properly cleaned between uses.

Also I'd go for cotton underwear, get rid of the pads, and just keep changing undies throughout the day or go the more absorbent pads someone else suggested, which I know is a pain but you have to get air circulating up and around there. Also try sleeping without any undies on at all if possible.
posted by wwax at 1:47 PM on April 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

Another folk remedy, but most definitely in the can't-hurt-might-help column: apple cider vinegar. Dilute in warm water (you can find many ratios online, I think it's a tbsp or two to a cup of water) and douche/rinse. Apparently this positively impacts the pH; it has been surprisingly successful for me.
posted by snorkmaiden at 2:15 PM on April 10, 2014

I found that folk remedies did absolutely nothing when I had recurring problems (YI not BV). They're not powerful enough. For comfort and to stop it becoming a full infection if it's feeling a bit yeasty or sore, I use something called "multi-gyn acti-gel". Its recommended for YI, BV and general discomfort. Not sure how it works, but it does soothe- though I doubt it would cure your recurring problem. You can apply it externally, and it comes with a sort of syringe thing for internal use too. Maybe it could bring you some relief while you're waiting to see a gyno.
posted by mymbleth at 2:21 PM on April 10, 2014

In addition to the panty liners, I simply threw out panties and replaced them to stop cross contamination. I also consumed coconut oil orally or used it on my lady bits topically to help with yeast issues and general unidentified goo.

Plus keep working on getting the diabetes under control. It can take some time for things in other areas to normalize again when you are working on a big issue like that.
posted by Michele in California at 2:26 PM on April 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had an issue like this for a few years. People telling you to eat yogurt are giving me a facial tick. Putting garlic up there did nothing to cure it, but did give me garlic breath, which was a touch surreal. And if one more doctor had told me to buy cotton underwear I would have ripped off my face.

Nthing boric acid. Use gelatin capsules, not vegan ones. The vegans ones will feed the yeast. (Don't ask me how I know...) Buy some feminine wipes and give the outside AND inside a wipe down to clear out all the pus and dead skin cells first. I also diluted oil of oregano with olive oil and put a pill of a few drops up there too. It killed it off, along with some skin cells. Not sure if I recommend it, but when you get desperate you do what you gotta do.

Also I had this problem until I went off gluten! So look into that. I did the yeast free diet for a few months, then transitioned into a gluten free diet, since they are very similar. I'm not sure how scientifically sound the yeast free diet actually is, a lot of the reasons given for cutting out certain foods is pretty shaky, but I don't have a horrible crotch problem right now so I'd do it again.

I also blow dry my bits, but on a hot setting. That has really helped.

You have my empathy, it really sucks.
posted by Dynex at 2:31 PM on April 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Disposable pads of ANY sort give me a yeast infection... I use the washable fabric kind now. You can get them at health food stores, Whole Foods, Etsy... Not expensive so may be worth a try?

Going commando really helped too... I wore a pair of those Aladdin pants that are in all the hippie boutiques around the house and to bed.

I've been there
Don't be afraid to get a different doctor, second opinion, etc

Other thought: is there lots of chlorine in your water or are you swimming much?

Do not microwave your underwear - the plastic in the elastic melts. Sigh.
posted by jrobin276 at 2:40 PM on April 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, frozen yogurt... Uh... "Popsicles" really help with the discomfort!
posted by jrobin276 at 2:42 PM on April 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Another discomfort help: Topical coconut oil. It helps kill yeast and can be soothing. (Your skin will soak it up, so either take coconut oil orally OR vaginally, not both. It will be too much if you do both.)
posted by Michele in California at 2:44 PM on April 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Something I haven't seen mentioned that could be contributing, if you're using condoms: latex sensitivity. (Which, apparently, can develop over time!)
posted by epersonae at 2:54 PM on April 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

I swear by hydrogen peroxide. Use a big syringe. Tried many of the other suggestions and this is what works for me. If you are very irritated it will sting the first couple of times; I'm not going to lie.
posted by tamitang at 2:54 PM on April 10, 2014

Had this problem, too. Here's what helped me.

1. AZO Yeast Tablets for the itching/discharge -- I know it says yeast and I know homeopathy is junk science but I tell you these things work to relieve the discomfort within minutes. When I was in the throes of of going to the doc/get a prescription/get another infection cycle, I had the AZO tablets in every purse I own.
2. Daily acidopholous tablets
3. Vagisil feminine wash with acidopholous in it. They have one with an odor blocker. Don't get that one. Careful because the bottles are the same color.
4. All cotton underwear, all the time. I had kept a few frilly pieces for sexy time and ocassionally wore them out. Now they are for sexy time only.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 4:11 PM on April 10, 2014

Seconding the coconut oil on the external bits to calm the itching, it's wonderful.
posted by sockasm at 4:30 PM on April 10, 2014

I had something similar and was going through some pretty brutal treatments that were probably making everything even more irritated and unhappy, allowing more bacteria to go nuts, etc. Vicious cycle. What helped for me was douching with warm (not hot) salt water once a day in the shower, as recommended by a gynecologist. Gentle but effective!
posted by Athanassiel at 7:02 PM on April 10, 2014

How to make frozen yogurt Popsicles: pour plain yogurt into fingers of a latex glove, tie at top and freeze. Then just cut a finger off, peel away latex, and enjoy the cool healing relief!
posted by whalebreath at 3:59 AM on April 11, 2014

I went through a long round of BV vs yeast infections . . . actually the tests were negative on all accounts but that was their guess. Anyway, I was hesitant to try any 'natural' cure like yogurt or garlic inserted vaginally, but I bit the bullet and tried the boric acid capsules ('prescribed' by my doctor but you can make your own). I'm not sure if they are what helped cure the cycle, but nothing else seemed to work and I've been doing well for the last 6 months. I think the BA is supposed to normalize the flora over time.

Even if the boric acid doesn't help in the long term, it should help in the short term by thinning out your mucous for a day or two, which sounds like it would give you relief.
posted by canda at 5:37 AM on April 11, 2014

Oh and I forgot: Preperation H cleansing wipes. They are cool and soothing, and mostly contain witchhazel, which promotes healing and stops itchiness.
posted by agregoli at 6:29 AM on April 11, 2014

I found this sequence to provide a clear and mostly helpful breakdown of home remedies and preventative measures for yeast infections. Although they don't say so in there, boric acid is also recommended for treating BV. Here is one helpful review/instructions on using Boric Acid Powder. And here is another.

Although it didn't cure my YI, I did find yoghurt to be very soothing. Just make sure it is plain and that you check the ingredients to make sure there is no added sugar! And here is one more resource that goes over the variety of options for treatment. I agree with previous posters that if you can get a more helpful doctor, that would be great, but I know that's not always possible. Good luck!
posted by sumiami at 9:08 AM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Okay, a really late follow-up, because I'm sorry to say nothing here worked for me. But that's because it was never BV or a yeast infection.

It's Erosive Lichen Planus. Yay for a proper diagnosis finally and a dose of steroid gel! Boo that it took so long (and with an awful diagnosis of an STD for one day before the Nurse called back to apologize). But I hope these suggestions help others, so thank you!
posted by saffry at 10:36 AM on April 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

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