I’ve watched the Monistat commercials. Heard the spiel on cotton underwear. Read the warnings about harsh soaps and fragrances. Followed the advice on relieving your bladder after sexy times.
I’m going to be honest. I thought vaginal infections were things that happened to other people. Now I’m here to admit I was wrong. My holiday season has been a series of unfortunate lady part events.
It all started on Christmas Eve, or actually a day or two before. I found myself needing to pee a lot, but when I went I never felt like everything was out. I didn’t take action at first. I had had similar occurrences here and there throughout my life, and thought things would just get better because they always do. It wasn’t until during dinner with the family on the night before Christmas when I had to get up three times when I realized I was in trouble. I plead my case to my parents, but with urgent care only open for thirteen more minutes, I decided to save my medical concerns for the morning. I made it about 30 minutes before I gave up, and headed for the ER. After sitting in a bed for hours, having a blood pressure cuff squeeze my arm repeatedly, and spilling the details of my problems to a girl I went to high school with, my suspicions were confirmed. I, the girl who thought she would never have these problems, was told I had UTI.
Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria enter the urethra, and travel on to infect the bladder and kidneys. Symptoms include burning during urination, frequent urge to urinate, lower back pain, bloody or smelly urine, fatigue and fever. It’s treated with antibiotics, and sometimes phenazopyridine, which relieves the symptoms of the infection while the antibiotics kick in. You can get the latter at the drugstore in the form of AZO, but while it hides your symptoms, it doesn’t cure you, so it’s still important to see a medical professional if you are concerned you might need antibiotics.
I went home, took my pills, and spent Christmas sipping water continuously. I felt better right away, and continued to do well while I finished out my week of antibiotics. It would be great if my story stopped here. Where I learned my lesson. Where I know the signs of an infection and live happily ever after. That was not the case. If you thought the last part was gross, turn back now.
The day or two after I finished my antibiotics I started to itch. Not horribly, but bad enough to be annoyed. Once again I shook it off. I was probably fine, right? No, the next day is when the smell set in. A dead fish smell to be more precise. I stupidly convinced myself that my skin was probably a bit dry, so I went on trying not to let it bother me. Mostly because I was getting married the next day and I hoped everything would fix itself before the honeymoon. It didn’t. I spent a day of my vacation in an urgent care finding out I had a yeast infection, and proceeded to the pharmacy to get my anti fungal meds. So romantic, I know, but my husband was such a trooper.
Yeast infections happen when there are too many yeast cells growing in the vagina, though they can also infect men and other parts of the body. It causes itching, soreness, and sometimes abnormal discharge that all the medical websites call cottage cheese like. You can usually treat them yourself with a variety of drug store medication.
The thing about yeast infections is that most are completely odorless, which I didn’t know until later that day when I was searching for answers on when I could expect symptoms to clear up. Then I started to get concerned. As I mentioned earlier my problem came with a smell. After some quick Googling I emailed my primary care doctor explaining I thought I had a bacterial infection instead. She agreed and had another round of antibiotics waiting for me once I got back from my week away. After this I sat and pouted about how the doctor at urgent care had misdiagnosed me. I was kinda ticked. Urgent care visits aren’t cheap. Then as a day on my anti fungals passed I realized they in fact were not wrong. The itching subsided and I figured out I had dealt with a yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis (which can be accompanied by the fish smell I mentioned earlier) at the same time. I later learned that when I had finished my UTI antibiotics, the bacteria that normally grows in ones lady parts had grown back at unbalanced levels, causing an increase of yeast and the “bad” bacteria, and of course causing all of my problems.
Even with all of my woman issues, I still had a great time on vacation, and I’m good to go with the whole infection thing.
So, after my unpleasant series of events what can you do to make sure this never happens to you?
- Urinate after sex. There’s time for cuddling later.
- Keep your sensitive areas clean, but don’t do so with harsh soaps. Vaginas are self cleaning machines, and you can pretty much leave it alone. You often times can clean your vulva with just water. Use extremely gentle, low ingredient soaps if you feel you have to.
- Don’t douche. Ever. Just don’t.
- Wear cotton crotched underwear. It keeps you dry. Save your lacy stuff for special occasions.
- Wipe front to back. You do not want feces all up in your woman parts.
- Eat yogurt or take probiotics. Talk to your doctor about preventative anti fungal measures you can take when you’re on antibiotics.
Hope you can fare better than I did, and have an infection free 2016.