Need help with recurring yeast infections & BV
July 10, 2019 10:10 AM   Subscribe

I'm in need of advice on ridding myself of chronic yeast infections and BV (occurring together).

I've had a yeast infection and BV (bacterial vaginosis) together since July 2018. I've seen four gynecologists and have been on Metrogel (inserts), Nystatin, and Diflucan over and over since this started. They never go away. My skin in that area is always red & sore.

I use Conti Castile bar soap (no baths, only showers) and All Free & Clear detergent. I've also used Seventh Generation detergent with no change. I take Renew Life's Women's Care Ultimate Flora probiotic every morning. All of my underwear is 100% cotton, and I only wear dresses and skirts (all w/o leggings, tights, or hosiery). I'm currently going through the beginnings of perimenopause if that makes any difference. I don't menstruate due to a partial hysterectomy, so I'm not able to see if this changes with my cycle. I never douche, and all lubricants are water-based.

Any advice or suggestions would be much appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You might try washing your underwear in only hot water and no detergent. It sounds gross not to use detergent but I've been doing it for years and it really isn't. It solved the irritation and discharge issues I had been having which improved my quality of life considerably.
posted by mcduff at 10:31 AM on July 10

You are anonymous so you can't respond, but I would ask you about your digestive health. You say you are taking a pro-biotic - any indication that you are experiencing a bacterial overgrowth in digestive system? If so, dietary changes could help - you can google a low FODMAP diet.
posted by mai at 10:31 AM on July 10

What's your moisture situation like down there? I found as soon as I became perimenopausal my natural fluids started drying up and I found a vaginal moisturiser like replens really helped. Your vagina self cleans by flushing itself out with secretions as mine had decreased I found it helped.

Secondly if you have a regular sex partner get them to treat themselves for yeast infections. My husband ended up being the cause of my chronic yeast infections when I was younger as he kept reinfecting me. A week of rubbing fungal cream on his penis cleared the problem right up.
posted by wwax at 10:35 AM on July 10 [13 favorites]

okay I've used borax suppositories ordered from amazon and they're AMAZING for re-calibrating the garden. I use NutraBlast Vaginal Suppositories. I can't attest to their safety.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 10:43 AM on July 10 [2 favorites]

This is going to sound ridiculous but: have you tried wearing thong underwear? I do not know why but I never get infections of any sort when I wear thongs, I switched to them full time about three years ago and it’s still working. I wear skirts, jeans, and leggings, none have any effect as long as it’s paired with a thong. I did try going commando and got infections, tried wearing all cotton underwear and got infections, tried changing my diet/probiotics/detergent/lack of detergent and got infections. Wearing an underwear style I find a bit silly? Solved everything.
posted by lepus at 10:55 AM on July 10

You could try a 1-2 month candida cleanse diet - no grains/gluten, dairy, sugar (including fruits except berries), lots of lean protein and veggies along with a candida-fighting supplement. I have followed a similar diet and it's hard but I do feel I've recolonized my gut bacteria, ideally you could find a good functional medicine doctor or naturopath to help with this, there's a lot of fear mongering about candida online and it can be overwhelming and sometimes harmful advice.

There are supplements like caprylic acid, oregano, turmeric, garlic, berberine, pau d'arco that all have antifungal properties (taken orally) and can kill the yeast if it's in your gut system, I rotate them because they say yeast adapts to whatever you throw at it, that could be part of why you're not having luck with the tried and true treatments. Pre and probiotics are important once you have killed the yeast or gotten it down to a level your body can fight off but aren't enough if your overall gut health or balance is off. I have benefited from the probiotic s.boulardii - they say it can eat yeast in the digestive system.

I had what I thought was a candida problem (rashy skin, fatigue, brain fog, horrible pms), in the end a topical steroid is what cleared my skin up (I think it was psoriasis with a yeast infection thrown on top), but I feel so good eating less carbs, gluten and sugar that i'm continuing it and I suspect candida was a part of all the symptoms I was having even though it wasn't showing up as a yeast infection vaginally. My sister had your issue and she did the no sugar diet and took a ton of herbal antifungals, hard to say what worked but eventually her system did level out and she is able to enjoy sweets without issues again but it took time.
posted by lafemma at 11:00 AM on July 10

So... this is a bit out there, but since you've clearly already been looking at all the usual culprits... is there a chance that you are unhappy with your sex life? I went through a period in my life when I knew I didn't want to be with my partner anymore but hadn't gotten up the courage to break open the relationship and leave. I kept having recurring yeast infections until I finally got out of there. I've heard the same story from 3 other friends throughout the years, all women who had already looked at all the usual medical causes. As one of my friends put it, it's as if our bodies were saying the NO our mouths were unable to say.
posted by widdershins at 11:04 AM on July 10 [2 favorites]

if you're having PIV sex you might want to consider that the problem with your V might be P related.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:10 AM on July 10 [21 favorites]

2nding boric acid capsules inserted. I have used this method myself many times.
posted by Riverine at 11:26 AM on July 10

Water-based lubes often contain sugar-alcohols (like glycerol), try switching to silicone which microbes can't use as an energy source.
posted by 445supermag at 12:10 PM on July 10 [4 favorites]

Like someone said above - eating radically low carb could help. Yeast thrives on sugar!

Are they testing and diagnosing each time? I found out (thanks to someone else's inquiry on AskMetafilter, actually) that my sore, red bits and painful sex was an autoimmune disorder - lichen planus. Confirmed by my (surprised) doctor - who had left me in the stirrups to consult some books when I suggested that relatively rare disease. I had also broken out in chronic hives (it was severe, constant, and with no known cause. It lasted years and required 5 medications to control.)

Those are both autoimmune diseases, and I found out that what helped was...............cutting out sugar and eating radically low carb. My symptoms cleared up within weeks and both of those problems have been in remission for 4 years. It also solved my chronic mild asthma and seasonal allergies. I'm essentially allergy-free for the first time in my life, and off all medications. My specialist one hundred percent agreed that it was likely eating keto that put the hives and lichen planus into remission.

In hindsight, all of these problems (plus an increase in the frequency and severity of migraines), probably coincided with the beginning of.........perimenopause.

I have no idea, really, if my experience will help you narrow things down - but I wanted to share in case it does. I hope you find relief.
posted by vitabellosi at 12:23 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]

Well, I don't know if this will work for you, but it probably can't hurt: I rid myself of a year-long BV infection with a mild solution of vinegar applied daily. Like, plain white vinegar mixed half with water. I don't know why my Ph was out of whack but that got it back to the right place I guess.
posted by Seven Windows at 12:39 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]

If you haven’t had a Pap smear recently, please get one. I’m sure you have since you’re getting scripts, but just in case. Has your gynecologist done a thorough physical exam?
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 2:27 PM on July 10

if you're having PIV sex you might want to consider that the problem with your V might be P related.
2 people have mentioned this possibility, let me be the third.
Also helpful in the above situation is use of the FEMALE CONDOM.
Perimenopausal? Have you tried using an oestrogen replacement cream internally? Have your doctors suggested it? Ask them. Looking back, it feels like oestrogen must be the most magical protective substance women have ever had.
posted by glasseyes at 2:38 PM on July 10

You didn't mention any sex partners, but the latest thinking is that BV can be sexually transmitted. Cis women who have sex with cis women tend to both have it at the same time, for example; and the oft-cited study showing that treating male partners of straight women didn't help was a poorly done study.

So you might be getting re-infected repeatedly, and then the treatments for BV can create the environment where yeast thrives, and a vicious cycle continues.

I would do a few things:
Read this article about the latest medical thinking/research on BV and share it with your doctor.

Learn about and consider the boric acid regimen alluded to in this CDC info page in the Follow-up section. (I shared that with my doctor and asked her about boric acid suppositories, and she told me to go for it. And it worked! You can do some online googling to find out more; what many folks recommend is to alternate evening boric acid supplements with morning probiotic vaginal supplements, but read up on this more.)

If you have regular sex partners, ask them, if they have a vagina, to get tested for BV, or, if they have a penis, to talk to their own doctor about the treatment outlined in the first article I linked above.

I also found this Atlantic article about BV incredibly helpful.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:27 PM on July 10

Is there any baking soda in your detergent? I had to stop using Arm & Hammer Free and Clear, because even though it claimed to be hypoallergenic, the baking soda was irritating my skin and turning any small imbalance into a full-blown disaster.
posted by dizziest at 4:16 PM on July 10

When the LJ community vaginapagina was popular, I remember people writing about using boric acid capsules and also gentian violet (not together) to successfully cure very stubborn yeast infections. Gynecologist Dr Jen Gunter wrote about using gentian violet on her blog.
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:50 PM on July 10

also idk about BV but chronic yeast infections can be a symptom of diabetes, from the sugar that passes in urine.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:24 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]

If you are a person who wears underwear to sleep in, try sleeping without.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:08 PM on July 10

Recommend switching to no-sugar and low-carb for a while to see if it helps. A change in diet to cutting out as much sugar as possible really helped me. A month or two of that, and everything was back to normal. Bonus: stopped eating so much sugar in general because everything started tasting too sweet.
posted by gemmy at 9:19 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]

Apple cider vinegar soaks might help, esp. if any P you interact with is uncut. Dilute vinegar in a glass (but keep the solution still kinda strong) and dip in, making sure to get vinegar right under the foreskin. And for you, perhaps a sitz bath?
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:50 PM on July 11

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