Asking For A Friend: What's Up With My Lady Space?
Dear People With Vaginas,
As a woman, a woman who loves women in all of the ways, a mother, a daughter, sister and friend, at various times in my life I have asked or been asked this question myself. The second most frequently Asking For A Friend question is usually related to a vaginal health. I am addressing the top 3 questions I receive the most and hopefully shedding some light on what's up, down there.
Lumps and Bumps: Oh no! What's that? Is is a hair bump or herpes?
Bumps in our lady space can be terrifying! But before you go into full meltdown let's get some things straight... ummm I mean clear.
1. Just because you have bump down there doesn't automatically mean you have something. Especially, if you are not currently sexually active!
In Shape Magazine Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Yale Medical School states, "Most of these microbiological bad guys don’t like to live outside of nice, warm human tissue,” she explains. “They do much better with skin-to-skin contact and fluids” than hanging out on cold, hard toilet seats,"
2. If you are sexually active then here are some things to consider in determining if you have more than just razor bumps, a simple rash, or acne (Yes, you can get acne there.)
The following the top 3 things to consider when you have bumps, spots, and lumps. These issues should be taken seriously and taken up with a medical professional.
- Does it hurt? If the area is red, irritated and more than slightly sensitive to the touch, go see the doctor!
- How does it feel? While genital warts are often not painful, these small growths are linked to HPV. Fortunately, it is rare that they linked to the kind of HPV that causes prostate and/or cervical cancer. A smooth growth could be a skin tag from parts of your flesh rubbing together, while a jagged feeling or cauliflower shaped one could be a genital wart. So if your bump is irregular around the margins, seek medical advice.
- Are the bumps open or closed? If the bumps stay closed and heal on their own, more than likely it is razor bumps, zits, or even a harmless cyst (caused by a clogged gland). However, if the bumps are open or oozing then you need to see a medical professional. Those types of bumps are likely a herpes outbreak and while they will open, ooze, crust over and seem healed within a few days, but they DO actually require medical treatment. A doctor can test you and diagnose the issue for sure and prescribe meds for treatment, however herpes cannot be cured.
Itching and Odor: Do you ever get that not so fresh feeling? No, this is not an an invitation to try some intimate cleanser that will make your vagina smell like a meadow of mangoes... If you have a foul odor and/or itching in your lady parts it could be a myriad of things causing your discomfort, including but not limited to your underwear, soap/laundry detergent, too much alcohol, not enough water, stress, or hormones. Here's what you need to know about when to go see the doctor:
- Thick white or cottage cheese-like discharge? You most likely have a yeast infection. Yeast can be treated with over-the-counter medications, but if you have never had a yeast infection or if you have treated yourself for a yeast infection with an OTC and the symptoms haven't gone away you should make an appointment with your Gynecologist.
- Is something fishy down there? No pun intended. Lots of jokes have been vaginal smells and secretions, but it really is no laughing matter. Vaginal itch, coupled with gray fishy-smelling discharge are actually signs of bacterial vaginosis. BV is treated with antibiotics so you will need to see a physician for a prescription.
- The bottom line. Mild vaginal itching by itself is not a major cause for concern, maybe you need to switch panties, supplements, or change up your nutrition plan. If you have a persistent or extreme itch, do not hesitate to seek medical advice.Additionally, your whisker biscuit should not smell any more like fields of flowers than it smell’s like seafood surprise, vagina is supposed to smell like vagina and it is perfectly made to be self-cleaning. If this is not the case, then something is out of balance and a doctor should be consulted. And if itching and odor accompany one another or if you have any unusual discharge, vaginal bleeding outside of menses, vaginal or pelvic pain or urinary symptoms you should get help from a qualified medical practitioner.
Urinary Tract and Bladder Infections: What’s the matter ya burning? Sis, if it burns when you pee, then you should unequivocally, without a doubt GO SEE THE DOCTOR!
· Who’s this CUTI? When I taught baby docs that would shorten Chronic Urinary Tract Infection to CUTI, but there is nothing cute about a Urinary Tract Infection. Here’s a list of things that indicate you should seek the counsel of a medical professional:
1. Is your urine discolored or smelly? It could be the B-vitamins you took or the asparagus you ate, but if it’s dark, cloudy, looks like it contains blood or is extremely smelly (it smells worse than just pee, toxic even).
2. If it burns when you pee you either have an STI/STD or you have a UTI. (All of these require that you see a doctor!)
UTIs irritate the lining of the bladder and urinary causing it to be inflamed, which is why it burns. And you can drink all of the water and unsweetened, all natural cranberry juice in the world, but if you are experiencing this then you must see a doctor.
3. Are you doing a perpetual pee-pee dance, but nothing comes out after you make your mad dash to the restroom. That constant pressure that feels like you gotta go is your bladder and urethra being peeved. And while it may be an annoyance, you need to go every time you feel the urge even if it’s just a tinkle, DO NOT HOLD IT!
4. Do your stomach and back hurt? Do you have a fever? If you answered yes to either of these, then you should seek help immediately because the infection of your urinary tract has likely moved on from your bladder to your kidneys and requires treatment ASAP.
I hope that you find some helpful answers here, please remember that nothing I have written is a replacement for professional medical advice or treatment. Self-Care is an imperative and when anything feels out of balance listen to what your body is telling you and answer accordingly. Always do what is for your highest good.
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