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Vagina problems really beginning to get me down.

(64 Posts)
Tittch Sun 02-Sep-12 16:04:41

Have name changed for this as find the whole situation so acutely embarrassing.
The last 9 months I have barely been able to have penetrative sex more than 4 times. Something is chronically wrong with my fanny but god only knows what. I have episodes (basically most of the time) of sore itchy vulva pain, with red raw skin (between inner and outer labia) and at the vagina entrance. Sometimes i want to scream the itching is so bad, sometimes it wakes me at night. Sometimes it goes. Sometimes it is more of a painful, scratchy feeling. Eurghh. I am sorry for TMI...
I live abroad and have been regularly seeing my gynaecologist who is very sympathetic. But I wonder if the practise used in the country am currently living in is less advanced than it could be. She constantly takes swabs, and here is the embarrassing bit, constantly finds an overgrowth of enterococcus faecalis. Basically: poo.

I don't think she believes me that I am not constantly having dodgy anal-then-vaginal sex and/or wiping back to front. OBVIOUSLY i do neither.
I have NOT A CLUE why i have this problem. And she seems not to know how to treat me.

I have tried all the obvious things like cotton only underwear, no g strings, no soap etc etc etc. And I did not have a complicated delivery when my son was born (I know this can lead to similar problems sometimes)

I think I may have had a similar problem as a young child. I certainly had some kind of vaginitis.

The whole issue is really beginning to damage my self confidence, my confidence in my marriage and my whole well being. I guess I am hoping someone somewhere may be able to help me with some advice. or maybe even someone I could see about it in the UK. I feel really really low about it today. Thank you, I am my wit's end. sad

Elibean Sun 02-Sep-12 16:20:50

Poor you, it sounds upsetting as well as painful.....having had occasional problems, I feel for you.

Have you been tested for lichen sclerosis? Don't know about it personally, but a friend's dd has it....and was misdiagnosed for ages.

Hope someone else comes along with more thoughts.

daffodillady Sun 02-Sep-12 16:28:13

Eli that was going to be my suggestion. I suffered and was undiagnosed by GPs and gynaecologists, it was eventually a skin specialist who realised what the problem was. I was prescribed a cream which soothes the area during a flare up but in the meanwhile zinc and castor oil cream would help.

Tittch Sun 02-Sep-12 16:38:41

Thank you both. I had seen LS mentioned online but thought it would be obvious to me and/or gynaecologist. I didn't realise it was so hard to diagnose. Daffodillady - what were your symptoms? I have pain at the vagina entrance too - that isn't the same thing is it?

daffodillady Sun 02-Sep-12 16:41:47

Symptoms? Itching, agonising soreness, screaming when I peed! Sex was just impossible, the pain during and afterwards was just unbearable. But the zinc and CO cream did help as a barrier as it is totally waterproof. Have you checked in a mirror? If your skin looks white (as mine did) this is a symptom but as it is quite rare not many medics recognise it.

Tittch Sun 02-Sep-12 17:11:35

Skin red raw not white... Patches of raw, inflamed skin.
You poor thing that sounds horrendous. I hope you have things under control now..

If there is persistently faecal cells on the swab, have they checked that there is definitely no kind of fistula at all?

I agree the lichen sclerosis also springs to mind. As does vulvodynia but that's no help really as it is more a description than a useful diagnosis.

The other suggestion, and please don't be offended, any chance of threadworms? They can cause awful vaginal irritation and travel from the bowel to the vagina at night (they don't live in the vagina but can pop over to visit)

jelliebelly Sun 02-Sep-12 17:24:17

Could it be thrush? Untreated this can get really bad - the only thing that sorted it for me was a change of diet/ supplements following visit to a dietician.

Tittch Sun 02-Sep-12 17:27:22

They haven't checked for a fistula, but it sounds as if they should.

Worms: not offended, I have 2 dogs so they actually treated me for it in case. It made no difference. However, I had had some anal itching in the past.
All so embarrassing.

My understanding was that (along with many other bacteria) enterococcus faecalis exists in the vagina, but an overgrowth is when you get irritation. So could it be, instead of a migration of the cells, a misbalance of the vaginal PH in general that is causing the overgrowth?
I still do not understand how that causes red raw skin and inflammation.

Thank you for taking the time to help me. I could never talk to so openly to my closest friends (wonderful though they are) I find the whole situation excruciatingly embarrassing...

bamboobutton Sun 02-Sep-12 17:27:23

i had very similar symptoms, had a biopsy and was diagnosed as having eczema, joy! steroid cream seems to sort any flare ups.

get thee to the GP!

Tittch Sun 02-Sep-12 17:39:29

thanks bamboo - did you have bacteria present too, or just sore, inflamed skin? No one has ever mentioned a biopsy to me before. Sounds like i need to push much harder for more investigation.

NormaStanleyFletcher Sun 02-Sep-12 17:43:47

The first thing I thought was fistula.

Hope you get it sorted.

What age are you? Are you itchy anywhere else? Are you well otherwise?

Here's what sprung to my mind:
Thrush - should be easily diagnosed with swab
Lichen scleroris as others have said. NOT so easy to diagnose...
Atrophic vaginitis - if you are menopausal?
YY to worms
Contact dermatitis to washing powder/soap. Don't overwash; once a day is enough, soapy hand between your legs is fine, but don't every wash inside.

I was under the impression that enterococcus faecalis is more of a contamination rather than an infection?

I'd try a few days of a steroid cream ie Betnovate or Elocon or similar as a therapeutic trial. If you feel better after 3-5 days then it is likely to be LS or vaginitis or dermatitis/eczema.

Or try a few days of as little washing as possible wink with Sudocrem or other zinc based cream slathered on several times daily - if that works, it's most likely dermatitis/eczema due to overwashing. Surprisingly common, particular in women with a problem in that department.

Tittch Sun 02-Sep-12 17:58:06

Pacific. 31. Had first baby last year. I have back problems due damage to my sacrum during my very quick delivery. Health in general - OK... This vaginal problem, combined with back is definitely messing up my sleep a bit. And I am underweight, bmi about 17.5. But that is mainly genetic, and I have been stressed recently. Not had PND or anything like that though.

So if, by process of elimination, neither the steroid cream, nor the sudocrem make any difference - what would be my next port of call?

Again - thank you thank you.

Spookey80 Sun 02-Sep-12 18:00:07

I too have suffered from various similar complaints to you. Luckily I have a fab GP and she eventually diagnosed lichen sclerosis, so now steroid cream for flare ups and regular moisturiser seems to keep on top of things. She has told met will prob never go away.
But I can also empathise with you as before this I would be woken in the night with the agony of itching. I would be crying. I really feel for you.
A few things I have picked up talking to thers about this are.,.you may need antibiotics, and this may be at least worth a try? As its so bad for you.
Also, try taking a zinc supplement, as someone told me that they were tested for lack of zinc, and then when they started taking supplements, there vaginal itching cleared up?
Lastly if the gynae doc is not finding the prob, maybe you need to see someone else who is more sympathetic, as this most be awful for you to live with.

Tittch Sun 02-Sep-12 18:02:07

in ref to enterococcus faecalis - all I know is that my only symptoms are visual (red raw skin) and itching/pain - and then STRONG growth of EF shown on 4 different swab tests done over the last few months.

Nothing else shows up.

coldfuchsia Sun 02-Sep-12 18:05:09

I also had similar symptoms a while ago. It was a candidia albans yeast skin infection, it went from the opening of my vagina, to the folds of skin of the labia, right up to my groin. It was absolutely torturous in terms of itching and pain. I had cream to kill the infection and steroid cream. The only thing that stopped the itching and gave some kind of relief to the feeling of painful dryness was freezing cold plain yoghurt.

You poor poor thing, it sounds awful. Perhaps you need to see a dermatologist rather than a gyny?

Spookey80 Sun 02-Sep-12 18:08:45

Yes, the gynae doc needs to refer you to a dermatologist. That was going to be my gps next plan if other things didn't work.

Tittch Sun 02-Sep-12 18:10:14

Thank you cold fuchsia.. It is a great comfort hearing from other people who have solved their issues!
I presume your problem was diagnosed quite quickly through I swab. ie. candida is always identified when there? Someone did tell me that some yeast infections go undetected. I actually tried canesten cream but it gave me no relief so I presumed it couldn't be candida.

coldfuchsia Sun 02-Sep-12 18:15:25

I won't lie to you, it took about a month for it to go, even with treatment. It was there with the second swab, but not the first. It was a month of spraying cold water onto my poor bits in the middle of the night, skin falling off in huge pieces, sometimes leaving it bleeding. I was crying sometimes with the itching.

Im absolutely fine now, by the way. So it can get better.

coldfuchsia Sun 02-Sep-12 18:17:02

Sorry, yes mine was diagnosed at the first dermatologist visit. I have private health, so was seen right away. She had to scrape rather than just swab and got it diagnosed very quickly, which was not nice, but I went out of there with medication.

Tittch Sun 02-Sep-12 18:23:54

I am actually moving back to London very soon, and have private health - so FINGERS CROSSED I will get better care. But i have to survive until then!!

WhatYouLookingAt Sun 02-Sep-12 18:31:47

I had/have a very similar problem, and was eventually diagnosed with chronic vulval dermatitis and eczema. I have autoimmune issues and its probably linked to that, but I also have internal issues which are still undiagnosed.
I have daily baths using a special oil for eczema/dermatitis and its helps a lot, though its never entirely gone. I believe it is also hormonal though as it practically disappeared when I was on long term contraception but came back when I went off it.
Good luck and keep pushing for a diagnosis, in my experience its often fobbed off by doctors and downplayed, and it can seriously ruin your quality of life longterm. sad

PuppyMonkey Sun 02-Sep-12 18:38:15

OP, you've not by any chance being using aloe Vera toilet roll? I had really bad allergic reaction in fanjo cos of that.

bamboobutton Sun 02-Sep-12 18:41:00

i just had very itchy skin, scratching it was both agony and ecstasygrin it would also swell up really badly. i was convinced it was vulvodynia. i don't remember if bacteria was present.

i had to go back to the GP several times before they referred me to have a biopsy done.

i would see if you can get a mild steroid cream over the counter and give that a try, see if it helps.

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