I am convinced my vagina should have the next lead role on “Game of Thrones,” because recently, it has done nothing but plot sadistic revenge. Like many women have experienced, I woke up one day with some weird itching and burning in the land down under and knew that it was the beginning of the dreaded yeast infection. Before I high-tailed my ass to the doctor, I opted to try a three-day over-the-counter, injectable cream that made me feel like I was a toddler walking around with a load in my diaper, and since then, it’s been one problem after the next (all for which I’ve consulted professionals).
But through my struggles, I’ve found solace in the fact that my OB-GYN confirmed “these are common problems,” and “these things happen to everyone.” Every day, women everywhere are betrayed by their vaginas with “normal,” pain-in-the-ass issues that interrupt our sex lives, social lives, and just our ease of existence in general. YOU try discreetly walking up subway stairs with a vile’s worth of white, foamy cream slowly leaking into your panties. Here are seven common vag problems that, in my opinion, deserve their own support groups and pocket manuals.
1. The Yeast Infection: I love yeast when it’s in beer and bread, but not when it’s overpopulating my vagina. Sometimes it burns, as if you shoved hot sauce-covered fingers up there, and other times you find yourself escaping to dark corners and conference rooms just so you can itch your vulva in private. Don’t get me started on the discharge.
Things the manual should tell us: Don’t take baths, sleep without underwear, don’t have sex, do eat plain yogurt, wash your hands often and prepare for a mess.
2. The Bacterial Infection: There are several types of bacterial infections that can occur in the vagina, but the most common symptom is a smelly, cloudy discharge, which is really just lovely. This happens when there’s not enough “good” bacteria in your vagina, and too much “bad” bacteria.
Things the manual should tell us: Don’t douche, don’t have sex and do see a doctor so they can give you antibiotics.
3. The Urinary Tract Infection: Have you ever had someone shove a large needle up your peehole while you’re trying to urinate? No? Then you wouldn’t know what a Urinary Tract Infection feels like, and you should thank your lucky stars. If a UTI is bad, sometimes it even hurts to walk and move, but you might as well live on the toilet anyway, because you’ll have an urge to pee every four minutes even though no urine comes out.
Things the manual should tell us: Go to a doctor ASAP, drink as much cranberry juice and water as you can, take a warm bath and ALWAYS pee right after you have sex. Always.
4. The Ingrown/Infected Hair: Shaving and waxing your vagina is all fine and dandy until you have an ingrown hair on your labia the size of an acorn. There are glands down there that can easily get blocked and become infected with any interruption to the pores, including infected hair follicles. Once a hair becomes ingrown and/or infected, puss builds up inside and HURTS like hell.
Things the manual should tell us: Always use shaving gel, don’t try and squeeze/pop the area, soak in warm baths, pat the area with warm compresses, and only if the said hair is visible, try and pull the it out with tweezers.
5. The PMS Period Pain: PMS is a fickle bitch. Sometimes you have one sole cramp whose pain is equivalent to the aftermath of eating a large breakfast burrito, and other times your body’s way of telling you that your period is coming is by making you feel like your uterus wants to fall out of your vagina. While some people I know don’t experience any vaginal pain with PMS, it does happen and it sucks.
Things the manual should tell us: Try taking Midol or any kind of anti-inflammatory to ease the discomfort, take a warm bath, exercise as much as you don’t want to and Godspeed. This will happen again next month.
6. STIs/STDs: Obviously, this (and all of these ailments) should not be taken lightly. Not only is this physically uncomfortable and/or painful, but thinking you might have an STD or STI is equally as petrifying (even if you turn out to be fine). Whether you’ve got some very suspect sores, patchy skin, a weird cluster of bumps or some really funky discharge, it’s the waiting to see a doctor part (or getting your results) that can be the worst.
Things the manual should tell us: Don’t have unprotected sex or any sex at all before you see a doctor (which should be immediately), and no matter what you do, do NOT look up your symptoms on WebMD, because it will probably tell you you’re dying.
7. Cysts: They happen internally and externally, and may or may not hurt. But when they do … well, it sucks. Sometimes, if the cyst is benign, you can just leave it there and it may go away on its own, but in cases where it’s uncomfortable or may be malignant, your doctor may suggest removal or drainage.
Think of a large, painful pimple that hasn’t yet come to a head, but it still hurts like a bitch. Now think of that on your labia. Ouch.
Things the manual should tell us: Apply a warm compress to the area if possible, don’t squeeze or touch it, see a doctor so they can rule out serious conditions.
Reprinted with permission from The Frisky. Want more?