What happens when you let a yeast infection get way, way out of hand?
Nothing good, my friends. Absolutely nothing good.
I was 14; just exiting the Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret phase, entering into the magical and mysterious time of V.C. Andrews. I suspect 14 was probably a rough year for most of us, but I doubt many other people ended up basically needing an exorcism between their legs.
I don’t remember exactly how my Very First Yeast Infection began. It was during the school year, and I was running cross country. I had probably rushed between practice and class a time too many. I was also fingerbanging myself like it was my job, so… who knows? Life is full of mysteries!
Anyway, stuff started itching down there. I squirmed through a day or two, wondering what was up with my hoo-ha, but not really having the words to articulate what was going on.
I would never, ever have asked my friends for their advice. I was just a freshman. I didn’t want to go through the remainder of my high school years known as Itchy McScratchy Cooch. My reputation was more important to me than my vagina’s health (my first rookie mistake).
This was also in the very, very early days of the Internet. I mainly used our dial-up connection for posting super deep AIM away messages. It never even occurred to me to search online for the cause of my uncomfortable crotch problem.
On about day four, things were happening that were making me inclined to believe my vag was possessed. It was oozing chunky cottage cheese, and it smelled like a meltdown at the day-old bread factory. (God, I am so sorry for that sentence.) I was using super thick period pads to contain the ooze, a move that probably made things much, much worse.
Turns out that if left untreated and unchecked (and let’s be real, borderline encouraged by my reluctance to do anything about it… I was so, so dumb), yeast infections can actually spread to your outside bits.
Like, all your outside bits. The lips, thighs, butthole… all of the vagina-adjacent regions.
I found this out when my labia started to itch terribly… and then began to swell.
When it finally got too uncomfortable to sit, I broke down and told my mom.
I remember her being all, “Oh! That’s no big deal honey. It’s just a yeast infection, we Women get them all the time.”
I was like… “NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. I DO NOT WANT THIS VAGINA. SAY IT IS NOT SO.” She thought I was being dramatic, but then I pulled my pants down to show her, and she witnessed the full horror of my demon-controlled nether regions.
At that point, my labia had swollen to roughly apricot size. I am not exaggerating. It was flaming red, the skin was stretched, shiny, and burning hot. The infection had spread to my thighs as well, which were covered in more red, burning itchiness. I was hemorrhaging white stinky goop nonstop.
The itching was by far the worst part. It was driving me absolutely insane. I couldn’t sleep at night, and it BURNED. The closest thing I can compare it to would be chigger bites. Imagine chigger bites all in your vagina and the surrounding areas. Imagine that, and then imagine setting it all on fire, because that is what it felt like.
We lived in a super small, everyone-knows-everyone kind of town. Our family doctor was the same one everyone else in town saw, and the same one I had been seeing since I was 8 years old. I might have been nearly insane from the itching, but I still thought I was going to die of shame when my mom dragged me to the doctor and whisper-told the receptionist what was happening.
When I finally showed our 60+-year-old family practitioner, he actually gasped aloud and said “Holy Shit.” I scared the doctor with my vagina. I was certain this was definitely the lowest a person could possibly go. Ah, to be 14 again.
Once I was appropriately medicated and given a topical antifungal cream, the yeast infection from hell slowly began to recede.
Thus began the blistering and peeling. As my formerly apricot-sized labia shrank, the outermost layer of my poor tortured skin dried up and peeled off. It still itched, but not nearly as bad as before, and for that I was thankful.
In all, it ended up taking several weeks of healing and peeling before my poor crotch was back to normal. To be honest, I’m not sure my labia ever recovered its original size. At 14 it seemed tragic to have a slightly more flappy labia, but I really haven’t thought of it much since.
These days, if there is even a HINT of itchiness below decks, I practically knock over babies running to the nearest CVS. I take probiotics like candy, and I always, always change my undies after exercising. I’ve had a couple very minor yeasties since then, but thank God nothing has ever come close to that level of torment again.
Now you know what happens when yeast infections go berserk, and for that I am sorry. Feel free to share with the 14-year-old girls in your life, although I bet that you’d be hard pressed to find one quite as ignorant as I was.