What is happening to my vagina?
February 23, 2008 6:45 AM   Subscribe

Strange bumps on labia that seem to harbor either small piece of flesh or bizarre unknown creature, bleed profusely after extraction with fingernails then heal up without trace of their existence...this is incredibly embarrassing to ask EVEN under the blanket of anonymity so please be kind.

Okay, so I'll try and give as much detail as possible. Basically, I first noticed these bumps--there were only two on the left side of my outer labia--because they slightly itched kind of like razor bumps itch. However, I hadn't shaved this area in nearly two months so it seemed suspicious. Being curious, I started putting pressure on one with my nails, like you would a zit. After noticing that it seemed to get a little larger when I did this, I persevered until a small piece of pink, fleshy matter came out. Upon removal it proceeded to bleed PROFUSELY for a couple of minutes (seriously really strange considering the size of the bump, equal in size to razor bump), then it stopped. Did the same thing to the other one which was near it and the same weird pink fleshy thing came out. The pink fleshy thing is similar size to the bump though it seems a little bigger, so perhaps part of it is under the skin?

Today I noticed that I had a slight itch and saw FOUR of these things. Now, this is months and months later. So WHAT THE FUCK. Did same process, same pink fleshy thing.

Do I have some weird STD? It's possible. The last time I had my annual was March 2007. Is this chiggers? I've heard about these and they make me recoil in terror. Am I dying of some strange flesh-consuming superbug? Any thoughts are greatly appreciated, though I expect many "IANAD but..."s to appear.

To complicate the matter further I am in a non-anglophone country in Western Europe and while I speak the language it is a SLIGHTLY delicate matter and I'm really embarrassed to bring it up. Additionally I have to pay for all medical-related shit up front and then wait about a month to get reimbursed (DING DING DING if you guessed that I'm in France). Basically I'd rather wait until September when I'm back in the Land of the Free (=USA) to get this checked out if that ends up being necessary.

Thanks, hive mind! Now I will go skulk in shame...
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (24 answers total)
I am profoundly unqualified to address all aspects of your question except the chigger aspect. I think there is no chance that these are chiggers. Chiggers aren't active in the cold months and when I have got them (which is not that uncommon where I live) they don't seem at all like you describe. You'd never call it a slight itch, for starters. Without being too graphic, I can also tell you that squeezing a chigger doesn't turn out quite like you describe either. Best of luck.
posted by Lame_username at 7:03 AM on February 23, 2008

I live in Florida and am familiar with the wonderful world of chiggers. Chiggers like to bite the crap out of you in areas that have tighter bands of clothing, like the elastic area of underwear or more likely, socks. Contrary to popular belief, chiggers do not burrow into the skin and live there, it only feel like they do. Chigger bites feel a lot like flea bites only they seem to take longer to heal and it is the kind of bite you find yourself scratching to raw bleed while asleep.

I think you really need to bite the bullet and just go to a real doctor. I don't think anyone on the internet can diagnose you and certainly if you need a medication or a test, we can't help you there, either. Good luck.
posted by 45moore45 at 7:20 AM on February 23, 2008

Do an image search for Herpes, check out the nasty pics and compare.
posted by bkeene12 at 7:24 AM on February 23, 2008

Also possibly genital warts (HPV)? But I don't know anything comes out of those when you squeeze them. Only a doctor can tell you for sure.
posted by chillmost at 7:53 AM on February 23, 2008

Could be something simpler, like a pimple. I... er, a friend of mine, no, make that some guy I heard about, gets the occasional pimple on his scrotum, or the skin just below the phrenum. Typically small (barely visible), and without sensation; but occasionally it can get irritated, slightly painful, and itchy.

Natch, the labial skin is MUCH thinner than male genital skin. For one thing, the liquids secreted by the labia during sexual excitement are actually (mostly) blood serum, seeping through the thin walls of the labia skin. So, any break in the skin is likely to bleed far more on a woman than a man.

However, the shame & embarassment you are feeling is counterproductive. Nothing about your health problems makes you skanky, gross, or a bad person. Your genitalia are important, valuable parts of you, and you are the only real advocate they have! Be strong, find a doctor, and settle the question. Most likely, it's nothing serious at all.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:59 AM on February 23, 2008

Please don't go skulk in shame. You're a woman, you have a vagina, and it's natural that sometimes things go awry. I think you should go see the gyno. Seriously, just make the appointment, save a little cash or borrow it from family or a friend, and try not to hide in the basement in the meanwhile.

FWIW, I've had similar little bumps occasionally since college. I freaked out, too, when I found the first one, called my mother in a panic, and, after she managed to get her giggles out of the way and settle into her expected maternal stance, she said, quite calmly and directly, "Well, honey, there's alot going on down there. Sometimes you might get a little pimple. I do. If you're worried, go to the doctor." I made an appointment at Planned Parenthood and was clean of STDs. (And I got some birth control pills in the process and a helpful lesson about STD prevention for good measure.)

At this point, I've resigned myself to the occasional annoying vag zit that I have to deal with once in a blue moon. I run, I wear jeans all the time and, just so you know even more fun facts about my anatomy, I have kind of a big vulva and vaginal lips, I don't shave, and I have big quads, so there's rubbing and chafing going on. The bumps aren't painful but they do bleed when you extract the "head". That stands to reason, given the thin skin and blood flow down there. Mine don't occur in clusters, though, so there's a difference there that I think is notable.

Still recommend going to the doctor. But there's alot of things that may be happening other than an STD. The way you walk or run, the way your groin rubs against your outer lips, a fungal thing, what you wear, lots of things could be in play other than the clap. And, if it is an STD, those happen, too, so cut yourself some slack. Give yourself a good examination in a mirror and, as suggested above, compare pictures of herpetic lesions to your bumps. Pay attention to whether or not you're experiencing painful urination, if you're running a fever, etc., and, to be on the safe side, abstain until you know you're clean. In the meanwhile, shower immediately after working out, switch to all-cotton underwear, avoid tights and long underwear and for the love of god stay as far away from panty-hose as possible if you don't already. Wear looser fitting pants, too, and keep everything really clean down there.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 8:03 AM on February 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

if your partner shaves his/her pubic hair, any leftover "stubble" could create something like a rash on you after some vigorous genital on genital contact.
posted by modernnomad at 8:07 AM on February 23, 2008

Sebaceous cyst?
posted by hot soup girl at 8:10 AM on February 23, 2008

totally go to the doctor. You have to do this. So many people have problems with their naughty bits these days that its no biggie.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:22 AM on February 23, 2008

Sounds like sebaceous cysts to me. I recommend you stop squeezing them, since that seems like a good way to turn a little bump into an infected mess.

Nothing about your health problems makes you skanky, gross, or a bad person. Your genitalia are important, valuable parts of you, and you are the only real advocate they have! Be strong, find a doctor, and settle the question.

Quoted for truth. If this is bugging you, see a doctor, preferably a bilingual one.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:35 AM on February 23, 2008

Yep, sounds like a sebaceous cyst to me, too. I get them occasionally, and they seem to flair up the most right around my period.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 8:41 AM on February 23, 2008

Those are tiny warts. I get these occasionally and I dig them out with my fingernails. You can tell they aren't zits, because they bleed a lot more than zits do, and the thing that comes out is hard, not like the pus of a zit. (Way TMI) If you dig them out, they will stop coming back. OTOH, if you leave them alone, they will go away.
Sorry for the grossness.
posted by annabkr at 8:42 AM on February 23, 2008

Well, it's a lot easier to get tested for an STD if you go in when you have the bumps showing up. It's easy for them to swab you and tell one way or the other. But yeah, could just be some kind of zit as well.

But if you REALLY REALLY REALLY don't wanna go in to the doctor until September (eek, six months to worry about this?), and it's not hurting, AND you don't plan on having sex until you're back in the States (sorry, but if it does turn out to be an STD, that's not fair to whoever you're boinking not to take care of it before you boink), then I guess you *could* wait. I just don't think it's a great idea.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:11 AM on February 23, 2008

There's a fairly horrifying story this morning on CNN.com by a woman who got MRSA on her labia, so at a minimum, I'd suggest that if you continue to dig them out, you take extra hygiene precautions until they're completely healed, including staying out of the gym.
posted by Enroute at 9:17 AM on February 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of here. If you had these issues on your face, for example, you'd be hightailing it to the doc. Your girlie parts deserve the same care and attention, perhaps even more. Yeah, they're a little harder to get at, but I guarantee you that whatever doc you see, even if they're only a month out of medical school , has seen much, much worse. They're not embarrassed, and there's no reason for you to be either (I know, easier said than done...).

Trust me, you'll feel a million times better once you actually know what the problem is. Only a doc can tell you that for sure. To me, the idea of waiting 6 months for piece of mind is way, way worse than 20 minutes of potential one-sided embarrassment.

And uh... stop picking at them. That can only make it worse.
posted by cgg at 9:24 AM on February 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

it could be ingrown hairs, although usually when you free one, the hair unfurls.
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:15 AM on February 23, 2008

Seconding everyone who said you need to go see a doctor. And that you don't need to feel embarrassed.

For what it's worth, doctors are surprisingly cheap in France, even out of pocket. I think I paid 25 euros to go visit a gyno when I was living there in 2002. (These people have no med school loans and no malpractice insurance premiums to worry about.) And mine spoke perfect English, having done a year-long residency in the States.
posted by whimwit at 10:16 AM on February 23, 2008

I had a staph infection caused by shaving "down there" once, and didn't appear immediately after shaving. It was a bump that went away on its own and then came back weeks or months later. The only way to permanently get rid of it was strong antibiotics. The (American) doctor clucked his tongue at me for shaving (apparently he's seen a lot of this), but it was no worse than a tongue-clucking for not wearing a seatbelt. Remember that eventually you're going home, and you will never see the French doctor again.
posted by desjardins at 12:29 PM on February 23, 2008

I've had something similar...it felt like there was a little BB in there, and got progressively more painful (like I had to be verrrry careful when I wiped) until one day it just popped. The results were way more like a pimple than fleshy matter, but it did bleed a lot, then it just went away.
posted by clh at 2:54 PM on February 23, 2008

Ow, sounds uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing. Please don't be embarrassed to see a doc. You will enjoy your stay abroad much more if you don't harbor fear about what is going on with your girly parts.
posted by radioamy at 3:30 PM on February 23, 2008

Do you get similar growths anywhere else on your body, like in your armpits or near your eyes? if so, they might be simple skin tags. They're usually flesh colored, usually don't hurt unless you mess with them, and bleed like heck if you snip or pinch them off. But I agree with others to stop by a clinic when you've got something to show.
posted by PatoPata at 3:43 PM on February 23, 2008

could it be this?
posted by jockc at 3:50 PM on February 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

It sounds most consistent with molluscum contagiosum or warts. I worked for several years as a nurse practitioner in a women's heath clinic in New York City, so have seen many cases of both. Depending on where you live, Planned Parenthood is always a good place to go for an STD check.
posted by peeps! at 3:57 PM on February 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

hey, at least in france you'll get reimbursed for it....

seriously though, if you continue digging at them, be sure to wash your hands before and after and wipe down your labia after digging to at least make an effort at keeping infection at bay.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 6:48 PM on February 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

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