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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

124

Return to South Mouth Kingdom

Whoa, that seems like a lot of rules! Isn’t there some sort of magic unifying principle!? We at the Hairpin traffic primarily in magic unifying principles, so we’re happy to relay that yes, there is one, and it’s pH balance. Your vagina needs to be a little on the acidic side (3.8-4.5) to be happy. Hairpin fave Kate Clancy has a long-form explanation on why this should be, but the gist is that your vagina contains multitudes: bacteria, yeast, and other organisms. The vag is healthiest when the Lactobacilli bacteria are in power; they output hydrogen peroxide to keep the pH down and inhospitable to the other bacteria. As rulers they are beneficial, kind, and stupid, and others lie in wait for their turn to dominate: specifically, gardnerella (bacterial vaginosis) and candida (yeast infection). Your quest is to prevent this from happening.

First rule is the easiest to explain: only douche with dreams, only wash with wishes. Companies that sell douches are pulling the ol’ inventing a problem (“an aspect of your body is hateful”) that can be solved by their product (“hooray, now it’s roses”). What makes them go from “the worst” to “the actual worst” is that douching gives you the problem when you didn’t have it before! Routine douching, especially with commercial preparations, disrupts your flora and increases your risk of getting BV and acquiring STIs and other infections. That fact, and the fact that Summer’s Eve has wasted the amazing domain “thatsvaginal.com” on a now-abandoned corporate blog authored by a fake guy and his talking cat are but two reasons you should put Big Douche out of business. The Crunk Feminist Collective has the rest of them.

The vagine is a mucous membrane, so nothing harsh, tingly, burny, perfumed, or scented, whether it’s actually going in (tampons, lube) or just hanging out outside (pad). The no-bubble bath or scented detergents thing? It’s real. Allergic reactions are unpleasant on their own and make you more susceptible to everything else. Like yeast! Anything sweet or flavored can feed yeast, whether it’s strawberries or lubricant flavored like them. May I humbly suggest letting your mouth eat that instead? There’s also been a connection proposed between yeast infections and lubricants that are kept slippery by glycerin, which breaks down to sugar. There’s no published evidence yet, but if it does bug you, Cory Silverberg will get you to some glycerin-free options post haste. 

Like absolutely nobody I know, yeast prefer to eat their sugary treats in damp, dark solitude. This is why anytime your bits are damp or can’t breathe can be triggering for an infection: synthetic underwear, skinny jeans, hanging out in a wet bathing suit for too long, whatever. Dry it off after showering or if you’re sweaty; just a friendly but firm pat pat pat. (Mighty sweaty: pure cornstarch.) Dry off anything that goes in there, too, after you’re done with it, like your menstrual cup. Try to get a cotton panel situation going; the only thing better than underwear made of pure cotton is underwear made of pure air. Whenever you can, let it go free, especially at night.

Condoms over everything expressly intended to give you an orgasm. Sex toys can transmit infections like BV, and the materials themselves can cause reactions. Non-porous materials (metal, silicone, $-er stuff) can be thoroughly cleaned; porous materials (jelly rubber, cheaper toys, probably sold as a “dong”) can’t. Don’t know what yours is? Throw a condom on it. Condoms over penises for the standard STI prevention reasons, but also for those with easily suggestible flora! Why? Because ejaculate is basic. Why would ejaculate be basic if the vagina’s supposed to be acidic? Great question. Why is menstrual blood basic? It’s because God was napping.

Lastly, try to keep the bacteria that comes from your butt in your butt and not anywhere else. (slow sage nod) E.Coli are harmless in your intestines but turn into superbullies in your vag, and will have your do-gooder Lactobacilli doing their math homework in short order. (E. coli is also the primary bug for UTIs!) Avoiding thongs, cunnilingus after rimming, vaginal sex after anal, or at least use a different barrier for it. Front to back, not just for wiping: the way of all things.

These rules are the general guidelines for making yourself less susceptible to possible infections and rashes and whatnot. But! There are some hardy vaginas out there. “Lola, I read those rules and I’m a bit worried. My ‘new moon’ ritual is a long bubble bath. Then I get out, empty a Honey Bear over the 'area' and tightly cinch plastic wrap around my pelvis. I don’t know, makes me feel strong. I have never had an issue, but this seems to break every rule — please advise.” I admire your dedication to a process that labor-intensive, and if it has caused you no ills, namaste! Do you.

Now that we’re all on the same page:

I need to ask a question, and it's real real personal. Long story short, my first boyfriend was totally grossed out by my vagina. He didn't like to talk about it, didn't like to hear about it, went down on me because he insisted it was what a 'good boyfriend' did but was always visibly turned off and yukked out by it. And now I have a bit of a complex. I know vaginas aren't gross, but I just can't seem to put any new partners through the punishment of having to do too much to mine. So twofold question — 1, How do I get over this, and 2, are there any safe non-irritating ways to freshen up my bits before sex so they are minimally icky?

Before we begin, did you know that your ex is so bored without you that he hangs out at home writing testimonials for douche websites?

(burns sage to smudge article)

I’ll answer the second part first because it’s simpler. In the interest of supporting your inalienable right to do whatever the hell you want with your body inclusive of thinking it is gross or doing a gross thing right now, here’s what I found. Violet Blue wrote a comprehensive article on changing the way you smell and taste, although don’t read it if you’re allergic to flowers being used as a metaphor for vaginas. If that’s the case, Go Ask Alice. For “freshening up,” plain water works.

Okay, now: how to get over it. You write that you know that vaginas aren’t gross. But I know being able to hold in your mind that something is “not gross” isn’t necessarily going to give you the confidence you need to accept any part of your body, let alone the genital part, let alone the genital part enough to drop it down on someone else’s face. That kind of not giving a fuck takes time to build, even for contributors to the latest edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. (Which, by the way, was fun until a girl I was dating slammed me with “Well we can’t all be contributors to Our Bodies, Ourselves.”) How do you get there? My tactic was pulling in positive sentiments at a rate that would hopefully outpace the rate by which I was accumulating the shitty damaging ones. You know, the messages that hail from sexism, racism, classism, ableism, ageism, cisgenderism, and the other fucking intersecting vectors that converge on our bodies when all we want to do is get off. Or live!

Everyone has their own shit thrown at them, so I can’t tell you what is going to work for you specifically, but there are resources for everybody. Here are some pieces of what worked for me as a young able-bodied queer cis lady. I found that’s everything said about general body acceptance was ph-balanced for the bits, too: Ask Sugar/Cheryl Strayed killed it on the topic. And while we’re down there, if you’re feeling guilty about any fantasy you’ve ever gotten off to. Seeing Portrait of my British Wife, or reading Audre Lorde’s Uses of the Erotic, although maybe you’ll like it out loud better?

Betty Dodson talking here about claiming your vulva. By the way, I’ve always had this weird ability to time travel a tiny bit into the future, so I saw you load up that video. At :30 you were like "hahahaha omg” and you sent it to everyone on gchat but then around 1:00 you were like "hm" and by 1:45 you got out a hand mirror and as I smiled mysteriously and disappeared into glittery mist knowing my work was done I heard you like, "Ooh, maybe a little like an awesome and elegant mountain ... or the kind of frame you'd find edging a masterpiece in a museum. Not just any museum. The Louvre."

I don’t know what it’s going to be for you. Maybe you’ll have a similar moment to when an ex of mine at a house party leaned into me and whispered, “Do you mind if I go down on you later?” and I was like, “Why!” and he was like, “Umm, because it’s awesome!?” so plainly, like such a duh, that I became two people, the person from before who cared and the person who was now rolling their eyes at that person. You could listen to Peaches and Cream by 112 twenty times in a row or what about ... okay. Maybe it’ll be replacing this worry with another one, like horsemanship? Or we could just listen to Divine sing us this all-purpose nuclear option together.

In case you glossed over that -ism list before (listen I know it tastes like cardboard but it’s good for you), let me reiterate that the shit you may receive about your body has zero to do with your actual worth as an individual about to ride that pony and everything to do with the overriding norms that determine what kind of bodies are valuable in this culture. This means that your body being anything except itself has nothing to do with you. They don’t know you. They’ve never even MET you! You have a body that deserves to be conceptualized and desired in the way that you want it to be so as best as you can please GET IT, GET IT.

Go in! And if you keep going, which I highly recommend, you may encounter partners who will have an ethos that the smell/taste/appearance/configuration/whatever of your genitalia is unimportant in light of the fact that it’s hanging out on a body they want to make out with. Something like my friend Laura’s: “1. Treat it nice, 2. Let me look at it.” And even if you don’t encounter these (or any) partners, I Promise With a Fuckjillion Promise-Watts of Raw Promising Power that as you do this you will still be becoming that partner for another person, which is just as good or better.

Previously: IUDs, or A Detailed Guide to Long-Term Sperm Scarecrows.

Lola Pellegrino really missed you guys and is a nurse practitioner now. Do you have a question for her?



124 Comments / Post A Comment

Emby

LW: That ex of yours was not a good lover and probably not a very good person. Rest assured there are plenty and plenty of guys out there who consider the canoe trip downtown to be one of the finest pleasures to be had during sexytimes.

Roxanne Rholes

@Emby It always baffles me that there are people who are into sex, but not into oral. I would love to hear more from dudes who really, seriously hate it. What's even going on there?

steve

@Emby
So go downtown
Things'll be great when you're
Downtown
No finer place, for sure
Downtown
Everything's waiting for you.

Emby

@Roxanne Rholes Sometimes I find it best to stop searching for any deeper answer than the fact that they are wildly, all-consumingly stupid.

H.E. Ladypants

@Roxanne Rholes Man, as a lady who seriously hates getting oral, I'll just say: Sometimes folks just don't like stuff.

(And sometimes folks are douchecanoes. Like LW's ex-boyfriend.)

mynamebackwards

@Emby the first person I had sex with (who also ended up being my first serious boyf) also refused to go downtown (though he really enjoyed the blowjobs I gave! a-hole). I was too insecure and inexperienced to understand how shitty that was then, and it has taken me YEARS to get over it. and honestly, I might not still be over it. even though I married a dude who is really great at it and enjoys himself, I still have to silence the little voice that says "enough about you, you should probably get back to taking care of HIM." it's sad, but I'm working on it.

Danzig!

@Roxanne Rholes It's becoming increasingly common for me to know dudes who like giving oral but women who hate receiving, which I find bizarre as never in my life have I heard of the reverse (boys hating getting, not girls hating giving). I assume it's because first-time boys just don't know what to do with their faces and communication during sex is generally considered uncool, and girls are all "well that's not any fun, why bother".

But then, maybe oral is considered too basic? Like yr probably not going to be looked at askance for demurring on butt stuff, why would it be a big deal that you don't like being gone down on (gr?)? It doesn't make you some big mound of vanilla.

Sister Administrator

@Roxanne Rholes I'm a lady and really not a fan of receiving. I will say it *might* have something to do with a First Time involving a well-meaning but in-over-his-head (ha!) teenaged boyfriend, but I really don't know.

I've given it a fair chance since then, and I just... can't. At this point it's like, why endure it just because I'm supposed to like it?

H.E. Ladypants

@Danzig! I dislike receiving oral because I dislike clitoral contact. To me, directly touching the clitoris a fairly unpleasant sensation, no matter the object doing the touching. Add to that the fact that I like more forceful sensations (firmly rubbing my mons is a good way to get me off) and being gone down on is way more of an unpleasant experience than a fun one.

I spent years assuming that I was somehow doing something wrong and listening to men who assured me that I just needed it to be done in the right way. But the reality is that I've been with men, I've been with women and it's just not my cup of tea.

Come to find out a while later, women who dislike direct clitoral contact make up about 10% of the population. On the upside, though, we tend to come very easily from vaginal intercourse.

Different bodies, they do different things!

Sister Administrator

@H.E. Ladypants Count me in with that 10%... except I enjoy none of the upside you mention.

H.E. Ladypants

@Sister Administrator Yeah, that's why I say "tend." Totally not a 100% overlap. Sigh.

I would offer to lend you some of my vagina powers but I'm sure you probably have vagina powers of your own.

CasualElegance

@H.E. Ladypants So glad I'm not alone on this! I was starting to feel a little crazy.

Sister Administrator

@H.E. Ladypants Aye, it does have a terrible power, mostly concentrated on making sure I don't have any fun.

MilesofMountains

@Roxanne Rholes I've actually never slept with a guy who liked giving oral. Granted, it's a pretty small sample, but they're definitely out there. Actually, none of them have been that excited about getting oral, either. They mostly just want a penis in a vagina and that's that. Only one of them was an asshole about it, though, and gave his reasoning for not giving oral or manual as "well, it's not like I'm getting anything out of it, am I?" He now considers himself quite the feminist crusader, so I hope he's over that shit.

hollysh

@MilesofMountains Never was there a prouder moment in my life than when I asked my ex if he liked eating pussy and he replied with a smirk, "Yeah, I LOVE it!" (I was the first girl he'd tried oral on and I like to think that I taught him well). The "not getting anything out of it" guy sounds like the ultimate douche. I hope he is now pussywhipped by some awesome lady who demands head on the regular.

FoxyRoxy

@Roxanne Rholes I'm a woman and I hate receiving oral. I enjoy giving but I'd rather do anything but receiving. I simply cannot do it. It's weird, I know, but there it is.

H.E. Ladypants

@CasualElegance It's weird, isn't it? So much of sex-positive literature tells us that being gone down on is the end all be all for ladies and that having the clitoris stimulated directly is the ticket to heaven, that if you don't work that way you start feeling like maybe you're defective somehow. I mean, I think that's true for most ladies but there are plenty of ladies like us, too!

carolita

@H.E. Ladypants Yeah, I'm not into oral (receiving it, I mean). I don't know why, I just don't care for it, even though I've had a few lovers who were inordinately good at it. I found them amusing for their prowess, but really, I could totally do without it. Possibly it just feels weird not being able to kiss. I mean, with my mouth. Haha. Some guys are totally into it. I'd suggest finding a guy who likes it, if you can't live without it. After thinking I'd die without several different ex's (meaning, I realized, each time, hey! I'm not gonna die without him after all, because here's a great new guy who I'll probably think I'd die without but then realize I won't, too!), yeah. Find another boyfriend, for goodness sakes! Sex is more important than people think!

social theory

"your vagina contains multitudes" just scrolling down here to thank you for this amazing whitman shout-out: thank you, you just helped me reclaim this poem from a bad ex.

okaycrochet

@social theory RECLAIM ALL THE POEMS FROM ALL THE BAD EXES.

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

@okaycrochet
It's not like they need the poems anyway, given that they get to keep
'The Fountainhead' and 'Atlas Shrugged,' which is more than they deserve.

zamboni

@josiahg what they lack in quality, they make up in volume (well, actually, nope: we're gonna need a bigger screed)

carolita

@social theory Unfortunately it reminded me of the time I went to a clinic in Spain with what I thought was a yeast infection that I'd neglected for months due to travelling, and the lady doctor asked me "how many boyfriends" I had. The answer was one. She said she found that "hard to believe," given the "amount of bacteria" she found in there. Yeah, multitudes! Seriously, just one boyfriend! I swear! I laugh now, but I was mortified. When she proposed to give me a gynecological examination after that remark, I declined. She insisted so much that instead of telling her I didn't want someone so judgmental and mean nosing around in my most intimate parts while I lay prone in stirrups, I lied and told her I hadn't bathed in a week and that she wouldn't like to examine me. She was so grossed out. But at least I'd deliberately grossed her out, instead of incurring her mean judgement of me based on her interpretation of my test results. It felt like a victory. Damn that woman!

However, I do love that poem, and quote that line every time my boyfriend claims I'm contradicting myself.

runner in the garden

@josiahg Imagining Dave Chappelle's Racial Draft with poetry. "The Juicebox delegation can have Kipling, on the condition that we get Dr. Seuss back."

sudden but inevitable betrayal

When I was growing up, my mom would get SO MAD anytime a douche or Summer's Eve commercial came on, and she would rail about the evilness of an industry based on making women feel bad about their genitals, and I would be like MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!.

...But now I do the same thing - because an industry based on making women feel bad about their genitals is pretty fucking evil! And it's really sad for the women and men who buy into that shit and have their genital-enjoyment ruined. My vagina is a goddamn vagina. It tastes and smells and looks like a goddamn vagina. If you want to smell a fucking flower, go smell a flower and level my goddamn vagina alone. Vagina-lovers only may apply.

(*yes, I know, "vagina" isn't the right term, but I like the word, so whatever)

Vera Knoop

@sudden but inevitable betrayal I think if you're talking about douching, "vagina" is the right term. Or so I'm given to understand.

carolita

@sudden but inevitable betrayal speaking of flowers, have you ever seen inside your vagina? I had a gynecologist put a mirror in front of me during an exam, and damned if it didn't look like the most beautiful exotic flower in there! It's amazing! There's a flower inside us!

lisma

But. I love bubble baths.

area@twitter

@ginalouise Well like Ask a Nurse says: These rules are the general guidelines for making yourself less susceptible to possible infections and rashes and whatnot. But! There are some hardy vaginas out there. So if you're taking bubble baths and you haven't had a problem, I'm guessing you can roll right on with your bad self. (In the same situation here, and that's what I'm planning.)

lisma

@area@twitter Yesssss. What's your favorite bubble bath?
I'm partial to Lush products, but I've been considering Johnson and Johnson bubble bath because it's so much cheaper.

area@twitter

@ginalouise My favorite is some no-name lavender soak I got from Walgreen's for a pittance. Honestly I could even go without the bubbles although they're nice; it's the soaking in really hot water and reading silly books I love. Dave Barry is my go-to bathtub reading.

OhMarie

@ginalouise Yes! Bubble baths!! But, I will dump the cheapest whatever bubble bath in there because I just love baths, and I'm sure the fragrance and everything in there is awful, so I should probably branch out.

I do love Lush, especially the fizzies, but I only do that occasionally because they're like $2.50 a pop.

Amanda@twitter

@ginalouise I get Village Naturals "Bath Shoppe" from Target which is only like $3 even with the pretentious spelling.

I'm not crazy about Lush bubble bath but I like their fizzies too. I find the best time to buy them is right after Christmas because their Christmas-scented ones are the best and they all go on clearance.

lisma

@area@twitter oh the books I've ruined by reading them in the tub.
Half the book ends up dipped in bathwater.

boxlady

@ginalouise

I know this is probably LAME if you're a bubblebather, but I take baths occasionally (even with my sensitive ladybits)and ad a bit of teatree oil to the bathwater, and nothing else. It seems to work, but I also don't soak for long.

Deanna Destroi

@sudden but inevitable betrayal I loved every part of that comment.

LW: last year, I got out of a long-term relationship with a dude who thought that giving me oral was gross, but fully expected to receive it. For years, I thought this was "normal." Every guy I've had sexytimes with since our breakup has been ACTIVELY EXCITED to get down there. I feel like the universe is saying, "Deanna, your vagina is awesome and deserves all kinds of love."

I'm not saying that your body acceptance should come from other people, but I'd be lying if I said that it hasn't helped me in the process.

nonvolleyball

@Deanna Destroi I don't know how I've failed to notice your commenter name before but it is AMAZING. carry on.

Deanna Destroi

@nonvolleyball Ahhh thank you! It's rare that someone gets it, so I always get excited when it happens. :)

nonvolleyball

@Deanna Destroi haha, #nerdlife. if you haven't seen it already, definitely check out sttngfashion on tumblr--it is basically one of the best-ever things produced by the internets. there's also a Call Me Maybe video composed entirely of clips from TNG, which is equally amazing (Lwaxana even plays a crucial role!).

NeverOddOrEven

Ladies! Allow me to preach for a moment:

PH. Very important. I battled chronic bacterial vaginosis for years, and doctors were no damn help. All the antibiotics in the world couldn't cure me. There's very little talk or awareness of BV out there. It's as if everyone has agreed to pretend there's nothing between yeast infection and STI.

Luckily I found tons of other poor women trying to sort themselves out online and got into a great community, where we crowd sourced and gave advice and suffered together. Some people found it was hormones. Others discovered triggers in clothing or detergent or condoms. I couldn't pin anything down to save my life.

But then I did. And it was semen.
Semen has a higher pH to neutralize the vaginas acidity a bit to help the sperm survive. And my boyfriend was especially viril and/or I am especially delicate, but as soon as he stopped finishing inside me (IUDs! Yay!) my BV never came back.

So be aware ladies, and go forth and be pH ballanced.

NeverOddOrEven

@NeverOddOrEven
And if anyone is ever in need of some good schadenfreude, let me tell you about all the insane things I did for a chance at a cure, or the time I ruined a perfectly good Fuck Buddy situation (and all his bedding) because I was in denial.

NeverOddOrEven

@NeverOddOrEven
Aw shit. I got excited and skimmed for a reference to this but didn't see it.

Sorry. And kudos to you, Lola!

H.E. Ladypants

@NeverOddOrEven Yeah, I spent forever freaking out because there were no STIs and was no yeast infection but I still walked around madly uncomfortable half the time.

Turns out switching to cotton panties and eating a lot more yogurt was all I needed for there to be a revolution in my pants.

iwannabekate

@NeverOddOrEven OHMAHGAH my sister!!! I battled back to back BV and yeast infections for a year!! I won't even go in to the insanity that ensued (two words: garlic cloves) when I was trying to cure myself (after literally no help from the three gynos that I saw, one of which told me that I should just "learn to live with it." *DIES*). Eventually I stabilized things with lots of probiotic supplements and hydrogen peroxide (sounds toxic, but it totally did the trick when nothing else would).

Seriously, there is not enough information out there about dealing with this -- I finally found an amazing gyno who worked really hard to help me, but it was a major uphill battle with lots and lots of tears. Doctors don't know enough about how to treat this long term and don't acknowledge how life-crushing it can be.

NeverOddOrEven

@iwannabekate
*Sisterhood fist bump*

I totally douched with hydrogen peroxide. Regularly. Like, on my back in the shower doing weird improvised yoga positions to hold it in.
And I'll see your garlic cloves and raise you a potato.

lisma

@NeverOddOrEven A POTATO? I have heard of the garlic cloves and thought it was too much like roasting a chicken, but a potato!

NeverOddOrEven

@H.E. Ladypants
Right?! And the fucking doctors - I got tested for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea every time. Hundreds probably.

Me: I have chronic BV, Metronidazole doesn't work. I've tried oral and the vaginal cream. I've used boric acid on my own. I do not have an STD and am in a monogamous relationship. He has even been treated. PLEASE do something different for me.

Doctor: Well let's check you for STDs and I'll write you a 'script for 10 days of Metronidazole....

NeverOddOrEven

@ginalouise
Someone online said they knew someone who it worked for....
Crazy and sketchy as hell, I know, but at that point it was totally a Can't Hurt, Might Help situation.

And I peeled it.

iwannabekate

@NeverOddOrEven WOW, that's a vaginal feat! Are we talking Red Bliss or full on Yukon Golds? Also wonderful were the vag supplements I got at Whole Foods (very creative and girl-power names include "Femdophilus" and "Ultimate Flora Vaginal Support")

RNL
RNL

@NeverOddOrEven I want to hear about this fuck buddy/sheet situation!

SarahP

Guys, the garlic clove solution is the best (for me), but it gives me garlic breath. Weird?!

kickupdust

@SarahP it works for me too! but one time I disregarded the "take it out before you go about your day" advice and ended up franticly speed-waddling trying to hold this GIGANTIC garlic clove in until I could find a public washroom. most uncomfortable five minutes ever.

JanieS

@iwannabekate It really is something that can make you feel like your going crazy just all the time, isn't it? And I always felt like I was the only person who had this problem!

JanieS

@NeverOddOrEven "Doctor: Well let's check you for STDs and I'll write you a 'script for 10 days of Metronidazole...."

I swear to God, Doctors are FORBIDDEN from ever saying "we don't know what the problem is".

NeverOddOrEven

@iwannabekate
Oh god, those supplements are the worst. And so damn expensive! I rarely bought any because it's a huge investment for something that might be shit. There's so much conflicting information about temperature and numbers of live cultures.

Tower of Babble

@SarahP FUN FACT: garlic can actually travel through any part of the skin and circulate through the body, producing garlic breath! Anybody who works with garlic (picking, packaging) will have garlic breath even if they don't eat it.

mustelid

@all y'all, YOU ARE MY PEOPLE.

"Doctors don't know enough about how to treat this long term and don't acknowledge how life-crushing it can be." YES

Also have totally gotten the "but I didn't eat any garlic" garlic breath before. Then it made me crave garlic, because I kept tasting it in my mouth. I'm also dying at the description of frantic speed waddling.

I LOVE ALL OF YOU

NeverOddOrEven

@RobotsNeedLove
I guess it's not actually a long story...
I had finally started sexing a guy after years of weird sexual tension in high school. We would go on some dates almost exactly every 6 months for a couple of years. We'd fall out of touch and then one of us would become single or just be in a dry spell and then it would start all over again.
Anyway. One night he invited me to spend the night when I thought that maybe an infection was coming on. But I really wanted to fuck, so I did a quick assessment and because there was barely any discharge at this point decided it would be fine.
So I drive out to his place, we have some drinks and hang out, then get down to business.
Ugh, I still remember looking at him and his super sexy tattoos in the dark....
But then I realize that I'm really wet. Like, super unusually wet. Then I start to notice a faint, but instantly recognizable to me, odor going on. But he seems oblivious so I just roll with it.
But once we finish he can't help but notice that he's a little ewt and sticky. We both are. And the bed is pretty damn wet...
I don't remember the exact words that were exchanged, and he was as much of a saint about it as can be expected, but the rest of the night was me sheepishly explaining a very glossed over version of the whole BV thing while we took turns washing up in the bathroom, then stripping his WHITE sheets and comforter off the bed and rinsing them out in the shower so the stains wouldn't set.
You know, those weird milky, mauve colored ones.
And, in true YM style, I was totally mortified.
I think he may have let me stay over still because it was late and I didn't live very close, but it was definitely the last time we had sex.
He gave me a couple haircuts in the years after, but it was never the same and I haven't seen or spoken to him in years.

nonvolleyball

@iwannabekate "Are we talking Red Bliss or full on Yukon Golds?" is my second-favorite thing I've read all day (the first being Lola's new-moon ritual description).

I also love absolutely everyone in this thread. the Hairpin brings out my "yay sisterhood" feels like nothing else.

RNL
RNL

@NeverOddOrEven :( Sex can be so mortifying! But also hilarious. Not that I'm laughing. Unless you would be ok with that.

I have a... talent that can lead to sheet ruining. Casual sex partners be warned! I just try to act like they should be happy about the whole thing.

NeverOddOrEven

@RobotsNeedLove
Laugh all you want. It's the only way to react.
I think I know the talent you speak of. My husband's ex had it, and he was way into it. "It's evidence! You can count how many orgasms she had by the wet spots!"

Stevie

@NeverOddOrEven I definitely had a phase of irritable vagina syndrome -- and then it passed. It still comes and goes, but something that's seriously helped me with the discomfort are those AZO Yeast supplements! You can take up to four per day and sometimes I need to, and sometimes I just need one to feel normal again. I've also found that drinking lots of beer makes me irritated (go figure) so I'm leaning more towards liquor & wine lately.

But question: Since we shouldn't use soap on our bits, but we want to use it on our butts, doesn't it just run down into our bits anyway? Or shouldn't we use soap at all down there?

insouciantlover

@ginalouise I just want to share a garlic story!

After getting on a round of strong antibiotics after dental stuff, I got the yeasties from hell. I tried the garlic clove thing so many times. I made the mistake of slicing the end off (like I was gonna cook it?) and the fresh garlic juice BURNED SO BAD holy shit. And then I popped in a somewhat, oh, mature garlic clove before bed one night, and when I pried it out in the morning it had started sproutinggggggggg.

I used yogurt topically and acidophilus gel caps that I inserted, and that was much less stinky.

billie_crusoe

@SarahP It also gives me garlic breath. But doesn't work for the yeast :( Boric acid capsules are all that work for me. I had a yeast infection pretty much nonstop for 18 months, and boric acid killed it finally. I don't put anything in mine (no semen, no lube right now, no soap anywhere near it), and I still get irritated occasionally for no reason (maybe hormones?). So far, a few days of boric acid clears me up.

Vagina problems are terrible. During the 18-month infection, I thought I would never have sex again. And the great thing about chronic yeast is that it can cause fissures on your vulva, which feel like tiny paper cuts all over (including one on my clit). So. Miserable.

baked bean

@insouciantlover I once had a Yeast Infection and BV at the same time. Or one after the other? All I know is the 7-day Monistat (different nurses have told me several times to use that one rather than the 1 or 2 day) made it go away for a couple days, it came back, then I took yeast infection meds from the doctor, it came back, took antibiotics once, came back, and then antibiotics + YOGURT ALL THE TIME and it finally went away. Like 3 months of that shit. So idk if it was the yogurt or the meds or both that kicked it, but the yogurt did make the burning feel better when I put it up in there. I also ate yogurt ALL THE TIME and started to really hate it.

Vera Knoop

@insouciantlover SPROUTING!

babs

@NeverOddOrEven + All the ladies! There is a MAGICAL CURE for yeasty beasties!! It is the probiotic Saccharomyces Boulardii, which competes directly with yeast for food. Because SacchaBo eats up the yeast's sugary food sources, it causes the yeast to starve and die off and leave your lady parts in peace.

I cannot recommend this stuff highly enough - it costs about $20 per bottle, which is enough for a month or two depending on how many you take per day, and can be found at Whole Foods/New Seasons/your local health food store. I've had incurable yeast infections that Monistat/antibiotics only made worse and a few of these straightened me out within hours. Tell all your lady friends, it is AMAZING and all natural and I can preach it for hours!

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

Ugh. That comment. "Sacrifice myself into doing something I very rarely do"? "Rush to leave downstairs"? Go date a mannequin, bro.

dj pomegranate

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Seriously, right? You + naked girl + sexytimes = NOT A SACRIFICE, BUDDY.

Reginal T. Squirge

I'd love to see video of the day homeboy gifted a bottle of Morning Paradise on a third date or something.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@dj pomegranate It's science! (Or math!)

Slapfight

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose All I can say is "Dude, if you don't like lady parts, there IS an alternative."

anachronistique

@Reginal T. Squirge Dumped right over the top of his head ten seconds later, I hope.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Slapfight There are all sorts of basements and downstairs and sub-subterranean living quarters he can visit during his sexytimes.

Carrie Ann

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I actually thought this might be a case of the Summer's Eve PR department posting fake comments on their products. It happens ALL THE TIME and that one just seemed like too pointed to be real. That is EXACTLY what those companies want you to believe.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Carrie Ann Yeah, I know this but I want to believe it was a real person so I can continue being disgusted instead of disgusted/enraged/manipulated. Also: Can you imagine a guy like this VOLUNTARILY buying a women's douching product...ever?

dj pomegranate

"My ‘new moon’ ritual is a long bubble bath. Then I get out, empty a Honey Bear over the 'area' and tightly cinch plastic wrap around my pelvis. I don’t know, makes me feel strong." I am really hoping this is someone's actual ritual.

plonk

lola, i LOVE your style and wisdom. please keep blessing us with it. (and linking to kate clancy yay!)

since it's related to my field of research, can i share some fun facts about vaginal bacteria? one study recently found that during pregnancy the composition of different bacterial species in the vagina changes dramatically. in particular, there is a big increase in the abundance of a particular Lactobacillus species that's normally found in the gut and can help digest milk. since babies get colonized with their mom's vaginal bacteria during birth, there's the possibility that the change in vaginal community during pregnancy is an adaptation that provides baby with helpful milk-digesting bacteria. YOUR VAGINA CONTAINS MULTITUDES!

NeverOddOrEven

@plonk
That is so weird and cool. Science!

laurel

@NeverOddOrEven: Evolution!

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@plonk Pregnancy and birth continue to blow my mind. What else do you know, fair scholar?

plonk

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose welllll i mostly know bacteria-related stuff. for example they're finding that one of the many reasons why it's a good idea to immediately plop a newborn on its mother's chest is that it further facilitates the transfer of beneficial germs from mother to offspring.

for general amazingness about reproductive biology, with a good bit of evolutionary perspective, kate clancy's blog which lola links to is great.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@plonk I'm headed there now...thanks!

Slapfight

Jon Snow would think that poster is an idiot.

itiresias

@Slapfight they know nothing, ygritte, and worse, they refuse to learn.

withatwist

@Slapfight The lord's kiss!

Anita Ham Sandwich

You know, I was worried about twatwaffles like that LW's boyfriend. It tooks YEARS for me to accept that there are tons of guys who LOVE going down on women. But it makes me sad that I was wrapped up in head about it for so long.

itiresias

@Anita Ham Sandwich Same, it always made me feel weird until I was in a seriously comfortable relationship. Like I would let (/make) guys do it, but only for a couple of minutes because a) I figured I was forcing them to, and knew I'd never relax enough to get much out of it anyway.

Lily Rowan

@itiresias It's so weird to realize how lucky I've been -- starting in high school, I've almost never been naked with a guy who wasn't into it. I mean, when we were kids, they weren't any good at it (neither of us was any good at any of it), but they were trying! Because they were sweet boys.

Passion Fruit

@Lily Rowan "But they were trying! Because they were sweet boys."

This is the sweetest, cutest thing ever. Love it!

JanieS

Sooo ... does Nurse Lola (or anyone else) have thoughts/feelings about repHresh? One of my gynos recommended it a while back, and I have found to it be moderately helpful for my chronic irritation-with-no-known-cause-which-the-doc-is-just-dying-to-say-is-all-in-my-head, but I don't know if that's just in my head (Ha). Also there's the ... sloughing ... issue.

mustelid

@JanieS I use it from time to time and also find it moderately helpful. I asked my gyno about it after I started using it, and she had never even heard of it. And yep, the sloughing is super gross. It looks like little wet bits of toilet paper :|

If you're not already, get that shit on subscribe and save from Amazon. Way cheaper! Yeah, I have a subscription to vag gel, what of it.

fuck fuck fuck

tangentially related comment: whooooo will cure my vulvar vestibulitis??

boxlady

@i'm a self-rolled man

UGH fuck vestibulitis! I'm sorry, self-rolled man.

I can't cure it, but I probably can offer a ton of advice. Mine is much better now. So....if you have any questions, hit me back. I can probably answer them, or point you in the right direction.

fuck fuck fuck

@boxlady please please pleeeease. right now i'm in the "just stop having sex!" phase with my fiance, which doesn't seem to bother him but makes me so scared and insecure sometimes.... i've read that for the type i have, only tricyclic antidepressants or surgery will work, and i'm pretty much broke, so. anything cheap/non-surgical that you would recommend?

fuck fuck fuck

@i'm a self-rolled man also, how does one actually ever enjoy sex, even after the VVS gets better, when, for your whole life, sex has been something that you associate with pain. i don't think i've been actually turned on since i found out what sex ACTUALLY felt like for me, like three years ago. i know the answer is just therapy, but i'm feeling especially forlorn right now.

boxlady

@i'm a self-rolled man

Awwww, I'm a self-rolled man, I'm sorry. I've been there. Can you give me an idea of what you've tried so far?

I haven't heard that bit you recited, about surgery or tricyclics. Trycyclics aren't actually expensive, I think (I don't live in teh states, eeeeee) and they do help. A lot. Their role is to "break the cycle of pain" to quote the doctors. This cycle, for most women, is one in which painful periods exacerbate chronic pain, which in turn makes periods worse, and then the whole thing continues ad nauseam.

It seems like we might have a lot to talk about, more than I can fit in a comment. Would you like to email me at my special anonymous address for such questions? It's boxyladyexpert@gmail.com. I hope my response isn't so late that you don't see it, so I might respond to you on another page, if you've commented there more recently.

Beericle

I feel motivated, mostly to just counter-balance all the ladies who say they don't like oral, to announce, that I like oral very much. It is awesome, as it most anything one can do during sexy times.

likethestore

I get a yeast infection from traditional lubes! For a long time I didn't put two and two together, so for years I got a yeast infection every time I had sex. NOT FUN. The glycerin thing is real!!

kickupdust

@likethestore me too! I switched to this organic oil-based one (not for with condoms obviously!) and it's really nice - works for massages too! (and in the bum if that's something you want to do.)

Xanthophyllippa

@kickupdust I love how you just tacked on that parenthetical, all "oh, btw," about it. Forthrightedness FTW!

Danzig!

At first I read the title as "Return to Smash Mouth Kingdom", which, no thank you

Peanut

@Danzig! HEY NOW YOU'RE AN ALL STAR GET YOUR GAME ON GO PLAY

saul "the bear" berenson

YAY she's back!!! Thank you so much for this! And thank you for that IUD piece, which I have emailed to dozens of women. Reading that (and the comments) helped me be totally chill for my own insertion, which was breezy partly because I was calm.

I've been trying to find the actual medical causes for yeast infections for months, and all the internets would tell me is "put some garlic up there!" and "I have a secret from my grandmother, it's yogurt!" So this was really helpful and interesting.

Judith Slutler

Sooooo, when sleeping - better to sleep with cotton undies or with ZERO undies?

Also, let me put in a word for washing after sex. Especially if you like, got back from the beach, banged, and fell right asleep afterwards, that is a time in which infections may well happen. Learn from my horny stupid mistakes!

saul "the bear" berenson

@Emmanuelle Cunt I do the no undies but cotton boxers for sleep, and it is working out great after a long battle with a recurring yeastie situation.

The only other thing that's helped is a little wash-with-just-water-aka-wishes routine after sex. Getting the semen outta there seems to be the magic trick, which is nice, because if the magic trick was garlic I was gonna be bummed.

Sea Ermine

@Emmanuelle Cunt I've always heard it as being best with zero undies. But, if you don't like sleeping in the nude I'm sure wearing boxers or loose sleep shorts with nothing underneath would be fine, because they are loose enough to let everything breath.

baked bean

@Emmanuelle Cunt Dude yeah, probably really not sexy, but I jump up and wash and pee SO FAST. I blamed not doing that on a couple of my yeast infections and UTIs. Who knows, but makes me feel better to do that. I'm not going to relax at all laying there being like, "Ok, should I get up now? Now?"

As for undies, I usually just wear cotton undies and no pants. But I'm sure sleeping in a cotton nightgown with no undies is probably smarter if you have problems. I just hate getting tangled up in a long t-shirt in my sleep, and prefer one that fits better.

Sea Ermine

@baked bean I do this too! I figured out a semi sexy way of doing this. After sex, lean over, kiss him, and then get up and seductively walk to the bathroom (I don't actually know how to do this because I am a pile of awkward so I can assure you that quickly shuffling over to the bathroom works just as well). Close the door, pee. Then turn on the water to let the shower warm up and peek your head out of the bathroom and invite him in. Both of you get into the shower and make out under the hot water. Then get out, but have him get out first and while he's toweling off and you're still behind the shower curtain rinse out your lady bits to get out any traces of lube or semen or whatever. Then get out, towel off, and climb into bed to cuddle.

baked bean

@Sea Ermine Sounds sexy ;) Srsly, genius for real.
Man friend and I have been together for a while, we both just jump up and go clean up with quick lady/man bits rinses or whatever and then come back and lay down and snuggle. :)
But then he gets hungry and wants to jump up too soon and go eat.

H.E. Ladypants

@baked bean Yeah we do that, too. Sometimes I shout "woo, semen!" but I've been told that's not sexy. Whatever, I remind him. You're laughing.

Blushingflwr

@Sea Ermine I don't get up to shower, but my gentleman friend keeps baby wipes in the bedroom, which he uses to clean us both up. But I also have a vagina of steel.

Sea Ermine

@Blushingflwr Yea I've always wanted to do that for convenience but my vagina is very high maintenance so I have to go rinse off with water or else she freaks out.

Blushingflwr

@Sea Ermine Yeah. I feel like this is not the appropriate forum for my many "vagina of steel" anecdotes, but I will say that to the best of my knowledge, I have never had a yeast infection.

acid burn

Congratulations on your NP, Lola! FYI, you are one of my nursing idols. Thanks for being awesome.

Saskquatch

Thanks to the Hairpin for presenting this article, I absoutely love this writer and will happily read (and reread and share) anything by her, anytime.

Killerpants

@Saskquatch Second that! And congrats on the NP-ism, Lola.

hollysh

Speaking of downtown, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWwO9yq-mvs

Gloucesterina

I observe that the product being rated comes in your choice of two exciting scents: "Morning Paradise" and "Naturally Normal" (TM).

But wait! What if I want to be "Normally Natural"? Or If I just want "Normal"? Don't tell me there is no product I can buy to achieve that!!

babs

You guys, there is a MAGICAL CURE for yeasty beasties! It is the probiotic Saccharomyces Boulardii, which competes directly with yeast for food. Because SacchaBo eats up the yeast's sugary food sources, it causes the yeast to starve and die off and leave your lady parts in peace.

I cannot recommend this stuff highly enough - it costs about $20 per bottle, which is enough for a month or two depending on how many you take per day, and can be found at Whole Foods/New Seasons/your local health food store. I've had incurable yeast infections that Monistat/antibiotics only made worse and a few of these straightened me out within hours. (It took seeing my rad lady naturopath to find out about it - most allopathic MD's have never heard of it.) It's amazing and all-natural and I could preach it for hours. Tell your friends!

mikealbert

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