This may be one of those tmi posts, so be warned. If you don’t want to hear about my vag, don’t read.
I went to the doctor recently because I noticed an “odor” down below. It wasn’t there all the time, just sometimes. However, being a responsible adult, I decided to go in and get checked for various infections and sti’s.
Turns out I had bacterial vaginosis.
So first thing: bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection a woman of my age can get. It is literally an imbalance of the bacterial flora in the vagina. It’s not contagious, and it’s hardly dangerous.
Why is that important?
Because I was fucking slut shamed at my appointment.
In seeking out more information about what I was experiencing, I asked some questions, one of which was inquiring whether my partner might also have an infection. I was told (no shitting), “It’s not exactly an sti, but women who don’t have sex don’t get it.”
In my own research, I found out that’s simply not true. But even if it was, what the hell? People don’t get colds if they don’t go outside. Do we blame them for going outside?!
More importantly, this infection wasn’t causing me pain.
Had I been more informed at the time that I went in to get checked out, I might have decided to treat it herbally. But I was concerned and ignorant and decided to follow the doctor’s advice.
She gave me an antibiotic.
Any vagina-toting person who has struggled with BV will probably know what happened next.
I took the medicine as instructed, stayed away from sex like an obedient girl, and wolfed down two to three yogurts a day to restore the “balance.”
Unfortunately, the antibiotics the doctor gave me were ridiculously strong. They killed off everything in my vagina, including the good bacteria, making for a hospitable place for yeast to grow.
Literally one of the most painful and gross things that can happen to a vagina.
I went from a painless, mild, bacterial infection to a raging, itching, burning yeast infection.
I looked it up, and yeast infections are so common following an antibacterial regimen that I have to wonder who is running women’s health?
And I’m sitting here thinking, “Why the fuck does the medicine make me feel worse than the problem?”
Bacterial vaginosis can rectify itself if the bacteria can get back in balance…so why kill off the whole population?! That’s like using a hydrogen bomb to get rid of house spiders. Perhaps a little more moderation would be in order.
At this point, I am feeling pretty disillusioned with modern medicine. I don’t understand the reasoning behind slut-shaming a woman for a mild, non-contagious infection…and I don’t understand the purpose of using a “treatment” that essentially guarantees a far more painful and difficult infection as a result.
Those of us who own vaginas have been cut off from knowing basic care for them. We’re told (rightly) to avoid messing with them when they’re healthy. The vagina is self-cleaning and doesn’t need to be douched when it’s healthy.
However, we’re not taught how to take care of our own minor imbalances. I wish I could go back and use a garlic suppository to treat the BV. I wish I hadn’t been so instilled with fear over my own body that I didn’t think to question my doctor at the time. I’m not making that same mistake again. After speaking with friends who have successfully self-treated yeast infections and doing considerable reading about herbal remedies, I am taking ownership over my vaginal health.
What’s the purpose of this post? Well, ranting feels good, but as with most things related to women’s issues, I feel like if we can’t talk about it, it will never get addressed. Stigma sucks. I’d rather people feel like they know things about my vagina that they never wanted to know than for me or anyone else to feel isolated in shame and silence.
Shame breeds ignorance. And ignorance, in my case, bred yeast.
Editor’s note: I want to make it clear that I am not, in any way, implying that doctors are all bad. I am glad I went to the doctor. I needed to rule out more serious issues like sti’s or cancer or whatnot. What I regret is that I didn’t know enough about treating basic imbalances that I couldn’t confidently handle things myself once I knew what I was dealing with. Had I had an sti, I absolutely would have gone with the doctor’s recommended treatment and worked closely with a clinically trained herbalist to bring in herbs as part of my support. Treating minor things with home remedies is something I feel knowledgeable enough to do, but I would not dream of eschewing medicine altogether. It has it’s place.