Yes, I know I’m not supposed to write about this most intimate of subjects, but I’ve done it once, so I’m not going to avoid it now. And don’t think I wasn’t tempted, but if you know me, you’ll know I’m not one to run from the truth, or run from sharing mine with you – whether or not you want to hear it. So I have a reputation to uphold now.
To be honest, I want to include this post for the very reason that people do not usually speak about it and it may be helpful to someone else. I also want a full record of my experience. It’s so easy to forget all the little things that happen.
I’m a very down-to-earth person, so there will be no shying away or coyness. You have been warned! You’re welcome to quit now.
Ok, so I’ve previously broached the delicate matter of genital warts and am pleased to say that they’re politely responding to being frozen by disappearing, which is exactly the desired effect. There’s only one left, which appeared a bit later than the others and that’s on its way out. Result!
Back at the end of January, a GU nurse thought I was a little tender due to the freezing, so she gave me aqueous cream to wash with. She also thought that I might have a touch of external thrush, even though I had no thrush-type symptoms. Nonetheless, she gave me some Clotrimazole cream to use on the external skin. That was before I went to Norway. I used the cream for a week as directed, and have continued with the aqueous wash.
However, at that time, I didn’t feel especially tender – I think it was more of a visual thing. But of late, I have been feeling a little more than tender – I’d say more like sore ⬇⬇⬇ down there ⬇⬇⬇. The soreness has made itself known and gradually increased in the last couple of weeks. So when I returned to the GUM [genito-urinary medicine] clinic last week, I mentioned it.
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I always find it funny, that when I go to the clinic, I am shown into a treatment room, whose main decorative attribute is a big chair complete with leg stirrups and control buttons for raising and lowering various parts of it. We chat for a short while to determine why I’m there each time. Then the nurse goes out to fetch the cryogun and invites me to undress and sit/lie in the chair, always making a point of providing a piece of paper towelling to cover my tender bits.
The door is always locked and there is a curtain around the chair as well. The only two people who might possibly see my bits, are the nurse and me. The nurse is about to stare directly into the abyss and spray me with liquid nitrogen, so she does actually need to see exactly where to spray… and I am already very familiar with what I have down there… If I’m not by now, then really it’s about time I was!
So every time, I wonder for exactly what purpose, to hide my bits from whose eyes, do they always invite me, if not insist, that I cover myself with a paper towel?
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Anyway, there I am, with legs in stirrups and the nurse checking me with expert eyes and begloved gentle fingers. She decides to take a swab to test for thrush. Yet again, I assure her I have no discharge or itchiness. It certainly didn’t feel like thrush. But for the sake of a bit of prodding, I thought it was worth having the test, just to rule it out if nothing else.
Now, I know many women hate any kind of internal exam, but I’m fairly blasé about them. So I lie back, think of other things and await the slight discomfort of a speculum…
OMG!!!! Did I say slight discomfort???? This was downright pain. “Ouch, ouch, ouch”, I cried. Fortunately she stopped and apologised profusely. Instead, she took a ‘blind’ swab (without seeing the cervix and therefore without the need for a speculum) and also tested for herpes, prompted by a doctor who came to see me.
Both tests were negative, but the doctor suggested I try clotrimazole in pessary form just to be on the safe side. In the past, I would have questioned using medication to treat something that I didn’t have symptoms of and that didn’t show up when they tested for it. But I’ve surrendered to so many treatments over the past two years, that unless something is presented as a choice or seems particularly dangerous or scary, I tend to go along with it. Do you know, I’ve only just realised this?
Other than a chalky discharge, that they had warned me about, which is mostly the remains of the tablet itself, nothing else happened. I was not surprised.
Meanwhile, my bits are still quite tender… when I dry myself after the toilet or a shower, sometimes if I move in my seat, getting into the car and so on. I began to think it might not be a genito-urinary or gynaecological issue.
So, at clinic yesterday, I mentioned the soreness and what had happened with the speculum-wielding nurse to Dr Jenny. She confirmed my thinking, that this is another aspect of the Graft versus Host Disease that I am experiencing in my mouth. The mucous membrane in the vagina is very similar to and equally as sensitive as the mouth… and equally vulnerable to GvHD. She said it is very common for women with oral GvHD to also experience the same tightness and soreness in the vagina.
Well, at least I have an explanation! But, given that I didn’t respond at all to using prednisalone for my mouth, she didn’t think it would work for my down below bits. It seems I may have to live with this too.
However, Dr Jenny thought that the loss of oestrogen from being menopausal might be exacerbating the situation and suggested HRT again. She thought that the added oestrogen might help with my low energy, constant tiredness, mild depression and sandpaper-dry skin. “Oh bloody hell”, I thought, “more tablets!” But she said I wouldn’t necessarily need to take HRT in pill form.
Strangely enough, I’ve been wanting to see my lovely GP, Dr Carolyn recently, without a real reason – maybe just to show her I’m still alive and doing well and to see how she’s getting on after problems with a slipped disc. So now I have a good excuse.
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Brief update on the oral GvHD… I had a dental check-up at the end of January, where I mentioned the problem I had with mint toothpaste stinging my overly sensitive mouth. I asked about alternative toothpastes available in health shops, but my dentist wanted to be sure I was using one that contained fluoride to protect my teeth. So she wrote out a prescription for Duraphat, which has a humungous amount of fluoride – much much more than I need (but let’s not get into that subject here and now). But she thought it might be available in flavours other than mint and even went so far as to write “not mint flavour” on the prescription.
I spoke to the pharmacist before she dispensed the prescription. She confirmed that Duraphat is only available in mint flavour. So the only reason for wanting the toothpaste was redundant. I asked her to throw the prescription away.
In frustration, I tore off to my local health food shop to check out all the brands of natural toothpaste. Most did not contain fluoride and many were mint flavoured. But to my delight, I found that Kingfisher make a fennel one with fluoride. So that’s now my brand! Success!
What’s nice is that it contains no artificial colourings, flavourings, sweeteners or preservatives. It isn’t tested on animals and contains no animal products whatsoever. It is GM-free, vegan and made to Halal and Kosher standards.
(P.S. I’m not on commission).
So, all in all, I feel happy to use it, as well as it making my mouth a slightly happier place too.