(Well, had. This post took longer than I thought to write. I apologize for the hiatus!)
Yeast infections. Just the word ‘yeast’ gives me the heebie-jeebies. I used to think they only happened to people with “dirty” vaginas; I certainly wasn’t one of those guys. I mean, I wipe front to back! I know shampoo and shaving cream has no business near my cooch. I’ve got a healthy pantie rotation. So when I first felt The Itch, I simply ignored it.
Probably one of the worst things to have done, besides trying to douche my way out of it of course. The Itch remained despite my desperate attempts of telling myself it’s all in my head. Mind over matter, bitch!
Alas, I woke up in the middle of the night trying to scratch without making it look like I was playing with myself, just in case, ya know, someone would barge into my bedroom at three in the morning. It did feel kinda nice, though.
The next day I sat my damp ass down– excessive discharge accompanies yeast infections– trying to think what caused this. Did I accidentally put on last weeks underwear I left on the floor? Did I hook up with someone and blocked out the memory because they were ugly? Are my jeans too tight? Do I drink too much soy milk? Wait, but is having a yeast infection that bad of a price for drinking this much soy milk?
Although yeast infections can be a side effect of a high sugar diet, be sexually transmitted, or follow the use of wearing tighter (thicker, warmer) clothing, I concluded my vagina was struggling due to the antibiotics I was taking. Not that I was a doctor or anything, but Yahoo! Answers assured me well enough. I get strep throat literally every year so I didn’t think to question my augmentin, that treacherous son of a bitch. Luckily, my infection was mild and went away (I’m pretty sure) after another week or so.
Then the next month I got hit by the strep once more, and told my doctor my prescription had previously messed up my plush heaven. He was real cool about it, said he should’ve seen it coming, and gave me The Magic Pill. Told me to take it the same day I started my antibiotics, but my stubborn self insisted my vagina was stronger than he thought. I was insulted such an esteemed professional would think so little of my cat.
So I held out.
Sure enough, The Itch made an appearance only days after I started augmentin and Walgreens hosted my march of defeat once more. The Magic Pill, a small, blue little guy, cured me in another small handful of days. All was well in the world; Destiny’s vagina was back in town!
I’m lucky though. Waiting for something wrong to just go away isn’t exactly the smartest move to make. Some people do this because they aren’t able to go see a professional about it– due to finances, ability, logistics, whatever. Others know their body well, or trust their home remedies.
And some, like myself, are just too embarrassed.
See, there’s a heavy stigma surrounding female anatomy. In all things. Whether it’s our nipples being outlawed, our menstruation cycles being taxed, or body hair shamed into submission– natural body processes associated with women are reduced to guffawed punchlines, hushed inquisitions, and opportunities for profit.
Is this lack of access and encouragement to information regarding our bodies because men don’t experience it, or because there’s more money in treatment rather prevention….
There are too many of us without basic sexual education. What works with our body, what doesn’t. What to avoid, what to utilize. I have so many friends who genuinely think Summer’s Eve is a godsend. My own mother was surprised I mentioned this infection to my doctor in the first place. Even I felt too ashamed to broach it, let alone make a blog post about my experience. I didn’t want people to think I was gross or dirty, scared they’d assume I was unhygienic. Undesirable, even!
Now I realize how ridiculous my worries were. 75% of all people with vaginas have or will experience a yeast infection at some point in their lives. Are we all gross because our vaginas naturally require bacteria and fungi? Is such a common and relatively benign imbalance really so damning? Medications, including birth control, and diet are higher up on the list of possible causes for a yeast infection than hygiene is. Even certain condoms are to blame!
Fortunately there were enough alternative information sites that eased what was left of my concerns. I now know yeast infections are very likely to reoccur, over half of people with vaginas will experience this, and how to keep an eye out for warning signs. I’ve now have this page bookmarked just in case I decide to treat it at home. And I know that the next time something feels just…off, it’s worth looking into sooner rather than later. It’s not just in your head, and it’s certainly nothing to be ashamed about.
Our vaginas are self cleaning and sensitive. There is so much that goes on down there–odors, sounds, secretions– an imbalance or overgrowth or irritation is bound to occur at some point. Learning what’s serious and what’s just another routine for your body is crucial, and something we need to become familiar with.
Your body isn’t gross for working the way it does. Don’t punish yourself for being human.
And seriously– don’t shit on others for what they can’t control, either. Especially women! We are taught to keep so many things secret, where “manners” and “desirability” trump our own health. Whether it’s farts or periods, we have to stifle ourselves on the constant to preserve this false, unnatural image of purity.
Oh, our vaginas smell like vagina?! Let’s shove perfumes and soaps into a self cleaning vessel, nevermind the fact it throws off our natural pH balance and increases the risk of irritation, infection, allergic reactions, and more serious conditions like PID, cervical cancer, or infertility. We risk our well-being to keep up with whatever rule being sold to us today.
But our safety and health is far more important than upholding ridiculous notions solely there to make us into the ultimate consumers. Our bodies can do so many things, and it’s time we normalize the…? normal, ha.