Hey everyone,

So I've posted here once before not that long ago, where I briefly mentioned the fact I think I've been suffering from BV for about 3 years now. The reason I left it go on untreated for so long is well 1) I was young and inexperienced when I first noticed symptoms and it didn't even cross my mind that I might have an infection. I kept thinking I maybe just wasn't washing myself down there well enough. Because my symptoms were never particularly unbearable or anything; it was only discharge and the fishy odour which was sometimes completely unnoticeable. I was able to put it out my mind. 2) The main reason I left it go untreated however, is because I'm terrified of the doctors. I know it probably sounds ridiculous, but just the whole being in a doctor's office makes me so horribly anxious. Within the past 10 years or so, I've never gone to the doctors for anything other than to go on the pill once I started becoming sexually active and to get a pap smear last year (we won't even go into how horrific it was to even get me to the doctors for that!). Luckily I've always been in pretty decent health, so going to the doctors never seemed to be a huge issue I had to face.

Once I noticed that the BV symptoms just weren't going away, however, I decided to Google it.. which was the first time I realised that my symptoms sounded like an infection. Because I was pretty much completely resistant on going to the doctors, I started trying home remedies to cure myself. I tried natural yogurt, probiotics, boric acid, and douching with hydrogen peroxide. All left me with immediate relief – but only for about a week at most, when the odour and discharge would always come back.

I'd had enough. I feel horribly disgusting because of this stupid infection and I can't shake the worries that I could be setting myself up for a horrible case of PID if I don't get this treated soon. Luckily I've been able to maintain a pretty good sexual relationship with my boyfriend – but there's only so many times I can try use a home remedy a few hours before sex to mask the symptoms.

SO.. it took about 2 hours before I could even bring myself to make the phone call – but I eventually did and I now have a doctors appointment on Thursday. You have no idea how much relief just making the appointment gave me.. but I'm also absolutely bricking it. It's not even one particular thing I'm scared of – it's just the entire process of being in a doctors office, having to talk to a doctor about these symptoms. I don't have any problems talking to other people on a daily basis, just purely doctors (or being in a hospital or a dentist or anything where people have to discuss my health…)

So I have a few questions and if you guys could just reassure me on anything, it would be hugely beneficial:
– Any advice on how I should start the conversation with the doctor? This terrifies me most, I think, because I'm worried I'll be sitting there stuttering away, not knowing how to find the confidence to just tell her.
– If it does turn out to be BV and I get put on antibiotics, is there anything I should do to try and ensure the infection doesn't just come right back? I know the antibiotics strip you of all bacteria, not just the bad. Should I take probiotics at the same time? Use natural yogurt down there to help at the same time?
– I'm also terrified because I've heard the side affects of the antibiotics for treating BV can be horrendous. If you've been on them, what was your experience? Is there anything I can do to make the antibiotics less unbearable?

Apologies for this essay of post – I'm just really, really scared about this entire process. It's been put off for such a long time, I just want it all to go as smoothly as possible from now on.

Thank you for any help you can give me!

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22 Responses to Some reassurace?

  1. Nwooeva says:

    You could always write down your questions and concerns and either read from the paper or just let the doctor read it themself at the appointment. I’ve done that before a few times.

  2. Ablyle says:

    That’s an idea. I’ll give it some thought, if nothing else it’ll be good to write down everything so I don’t miss anything out. Thank you!

  3. 29dWoman says:

    If you have them written down, you or the dr can write in the answers/suggestions

  4. Ttefornia says:

    I hear you on fear of doctors – that’s not quite how mine goes, but I can sympathise.

    When I think I’m going to forget everything I want to say to a doctor, I either write them a letter or write myself a list, then hand it over (or use it as a prompt, whicever I feel more capable of).

    The most recent occasion I went to a doctor last time I went to a doctor and didn’t know how to say something, I literally said that: I sat down, she asked how I was, I said “I don’t really know how to say this, so, er, I’ve [had these symptoms/behaviours]” and let her take it from there. They’re used to getting info out of nervous people!

    One of the other things I do is get a friend to accompany both to the doctor’s surgery and actually to the appointment. I have also been known to have my teddy bear with my in my rucksack (and, on one memorable occasion, a special rock!).

    I’m guessing you’ve already found the Vulvapedia entry on home treatments for BV? I’m afraid I don’t personally have more answers for you on that point, but I’m sure other people will be along soon!

    Antibiotics. How you react to them honestly will vary a lot depending on what you’re given, in what strength, for how long… and, of course, your own body. I was recently on a 10ish-day course of 500mg Amoxicillin 3xdaily, and didn’t notice any side effects at all – but then again I was rather distracted by the pneumonia…!

    Please let us know if there’s anything else we can do to help.

  5. Ablyle says:

    Thank you so much for your reply. I think I’ll definitely write my symptoms down, I feel like this will make things easier because I could read from the paper and avoid looking straight at the doctor.

    Yeah, I read the Vulvapedia entry a while ago, it was very helpful at the time was I was just trying to learn more about BV.

    Thanks again!

  6. Elteva says:

    Well I went to a doctor with suspected BV. What I did was explain my symptoms and she replied with “well, it sounds a little bit like BV, or yeast.”

    I often start by just explaining that I’ve had some vaginal discharge I’m concerned about but sometimes it’s difficult to say “vaginal discharge” in front of a stranger to I allude to it.

    For example “I finished my period and noticed some strange discharge.” or “I’ve recently slept with a new partner and noticed some unusal discharge.” or whatever. It makes it a lot easier to talk about vaginal health without ever actually saying “vagina” or “vulva” if you dont’ feel quite ready to do that yet.

    The antibiotics may give you a yeast infection so it is a good idea to take some pro-biotics. That’s the only side effect I’ve heard for antibiotic treatment for BV.

  7. Ablyle says:

    I’ve definitely been tempted to say something along the lines of, “I finished my period and noticed some strange discharge.” Although that’s not altogether true, since I’ve obviously been dealing with this for much longer than just since my last period, I feel like explaining in that way might be a lot easier for me.

    Thank you for replying.

  8. Elteva says:

    Well maybe just say you’ve noticed the same symptoms on and off for a while now and you thought it was best to come and get checked? “I finished my period and noticed this strange discharge, but I’ve had it on and off for quite a while and it only just occured to me that it’s unusual.” for example.

  9. Ablyle says:

    That sounds like a better plan – and more accurate. Thanks.

  10. Elteva says:

    It’s quite usual for conditions like BV to go unchecked for a while, especially if symptoms are mild so I highly doubt that your doctor would expect you to hear alarm bells the second you found something weird.

    No problem, I hope the appointment goes well : )

  11. Ablyle says:

    That’s true. I’ve also heard from a lot of other people (online) who were around my age or younger when they first got BV that they were just too uncomfortable or embarrassed to go to the doctors about it, so I’m guessing the doctors are used to that too.

    Thank you, I do too! Haha.

  12. StcWo says:

    I always find writing a list of my symptoms before I go helps, that way I don’t forget to mention anything. Doctors deal with this stuff all the time so you shouldn’t worry too much but I can understand your fear.

    Taking probiotics might be a good idea.. and will probably stop you getting thrush/yeast infection, but that’s the only side effect I’m aware of with antibiotics, unless you’re allergic to them for some reason. (I’m allergic to Penicillin).

  13. Ablyle says:

    Thank you very much for replying – I think I’ll definitely make a list of what I want to say to the doctor.

  14. EroWo says:

    If it were me I would add to the list of questions, “What are the side effects for the antibiotic you’re prescribing me? Why did you choose this antibiotic?”

  15. Ablyle says:

    That sounds like a good idea. I’m worried that I might just be so nervous to get out of there that I won’t bother asking anything about the antibiotics and just take whatever they give me – but I’ll try my best to remember to ask about them first.

  16. OyrZero says:

    I would suggest you take your whole post to the Dr and hand it to her/him. Perhaps abbreviate it a bit since they are ALWAYS in a hurry, but this gives them the whole picture, including why you may have trouble talking about it. Giving a lot of background is almost always good, especially since you apparently don’t have a history built up with this Dr.

  17. Ablyle says:

    Yeah I really don’t know this doctor at all. In fact, because I’m at the doctors so rarely, I don’t know any of them well. I have the same GP I had as a child, but I haven’t needed to see him since I was about 8-years-old. Also, when I phoned to make this appointment, I asked for a female doctor because I just wouldn’t be able to talk to a male doctor about this at all. I might cut out everything but the main points of this post and let her read that. I’ll have a think about it.

    Thank you!

  18. Hakle says:

    I don’t have any advice to give you on your specific problem, but I just wanted to let you know that in regards to your fear of doctors, you are not alone. I too feel terrified anytime I have to go to the doctor, no matter what I’m going for. I get incredibly nervous even just going to get another prescription for my anxiety medication. I am so terrified that I have a panic attack every time I try to talk myself into going for a pap smear – I’m 26 and I haven’t been yet because of this issue.

    So basically, I applaud you for being able to go to the doctor despite your fear, and I hope everything works out well for you. I’ve given myself a goal of going for the pap by February – I only hope I can be as brave as you are.

  19. Ablyle says:

    Thank you for replying. Although I’m sad to hear you also suffer from anxiety about going to the doctors, it’s good to know I’m not alone. Just like you said, I also get incredibly anxious before going to the doctors just to get my birth control prescription. Even though I’ve now been lots of times and I know exactly what the nurse will do when I’m there (which is only take my blood pressure, basically), each time is still an anxious, horrible experience.

    If I was able to go and get my pap smear, you can too! It took a lot of effort and I was so, so nervous – but I felt so relieved after I got it done. I just figured the longer I put it off, the more anxiety I’ll be causing myself. The doctor was very kind and helpful and the whole thing was over in about 5 minutes. All the best, I know you can do it. c:

  20. Naceva says:

    I just wanted to add that antibiotics can be really harsh on your digestive system. Either you feel nausea or get an upset stomach or diarrhea … stuff like that. That’s another reason for taking probiotics, to help gentle the symptoms. It’s also why it’s important to remember taking the antibiotics with food (and by that I mean real food, not just a couple of crackers). You may be prescribed a kind that won’t allow you to have any alcoholic drinks while on it (because, if you drink, then you’ll get a violent reaction like throwing up). But it all depends on what your doc thinks will be the kind that’s most suited to help you get rid of the infection effectively.

    After you’ve taken the prescribed course, you may want to see if you can maintain a BV-free vagina. From your post, I’m not sure if you and your partner use condoms, as you mention you’ve been on the pill. Some vaginas’ pH balance gets off-kilter just from semen. Doesn’t seem fair, does it? You might want to see if the situation is better when you do use condoms. Or a different lube.

    Other vaginas need to be coddled with extra attention when it comes to washing and drying. I notice you wrote that you wondered if you weren’t washing yourself well enough. But overwashing, especially with soap, can actually make things worse (because most soaps have a pH that is out of balance with the normal pH of a vagina). Studies have shown that people who wash twice a day with soap get more vaginal infections than those who wash only once a day. Sounds weird, doesn’t it?

    Also, if you’re using a washcloth when washing your fiddly bits, I would recommend not doing so, because washcloths can harbour a lot of bacteria. So just use your fingers and a stream of water from a handheld showerhead. If you feel you need something more than just water to feel clean, I suggest adding salt (regular table salt) to warm water, soaking a pad of several sheets of paper towel in it and then wiping your vulva. Salt is both antiseptic and anaesthetic. This was recommended to me (at the ER?) when I had the ONLY serious overall uro-ano-genital infection-from-hell 6 years ago.

    Do you dry yourself thoroughly after getting out of a shower. If you’re not, then bacteria can build up more quickly, especially in places there are skin folds. Obviously, you can’t dry the inside of your vagina, but bacteria can be picked up from your vulva/labia.

    One last thing. Ask you doctor if she believes a 7-day treatment will get rid of the infection for good. Why? Because – during the infection-from-hell I mentioned above – doctors kept prescribing different antibiotics for only 7 days. And the infection never got killed. Finally, after so much misery, I had to put MY foot down and INSIST on a 10-day prescription.

    Good luck!

  21. Ablyle says:

    Thank you so much for your reply!

    It was the nausea/upset stomach that I had read about that other people had suffered from after taking antibiotics to treat BV, which is why I asked about it, because I’d really rather not be feeling totally crappy while trying to treat this. I’ll definitely make sure to take the antibiotics with a meal and will take probiotics at the same time.

    My partner and I always use condoms, even though I’m on the pill. We’re definitely not ready to go down the path of parenthood therefore we like to be extra careful, so I don’t think his semen will be too much of a problem right now.

    Thanks for all the other advice, it’s helped a lot and is much appreciated. 🙂

  22. Naceva says:

    Well, I figured that a few days of feeling crappy was so worth it if the infection got zapped totally. And, um, if you have any fave food cravings, now would be the time to indulge yourself.

    Just remember NOT to take the probiotics at the same time of day as the antibiotics. Try to stagger them a few hours apart. Like maybe 3?

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