My first yeast infection came at the age of 27. Up until then, I was yeast infection free and I had prided myself on this. “My vagina is clean! My vagina is clean!” The little cheerleader in my brain would scream whenever a friend would agonize over constant itching. That’s what it was, right? I had taken such good, hygienic care of my vagina that it was never infected. “DUH, don’t these dodo birds know that you have to pee right after sex?” I quietly judged them all.
I was ever so wrong. SO SO WRONG! It turns out that yeast infections are not solely caused by poor hygiene and in fact are caused by so many varying womanly factors. Hormones, CONDOMS (boys, that one is on you), pregnancy, clothing, antibiotics, diet, compromised immune systems, stress, lack of sleep, etc. Basically, if you move, you can get a yeast infection.
My tale of many yeasts begins in a primary care physician’s office where I was prescribed the devilish antibiotic, Penicillin. I had a terrible infection and had taken antibiotics before several times, but never Penicillin. In any case, I was supposed to take it for ten days. When I say “supposed to,” I mean that I pretty much never follow up with what my doctors say because I am a lazy shit. I took it for seven days because like I said, I am a lazy shit.
A few days later, I developed a minor crotchy itch. At first, it didn’t even cross my mind that I had a yeast infection. I thought, “Mmkay, I’m itchy but it’s probably my period coming or that pesky brazilian wax is growing back, or fuck! Why did I shave my bikini line again?” I had always had this type of relationship with my vagina. I thought we understood and knew each other. It wasn’t until I was tucked away in grocery store aisles, running to the bathroom at work and dodging strangers in the street to itch the fuck out of my crotch that I realized something was wrong. My vagina was betraying me.
I decided to treat myself, mainly because I was embarrassed but also because I’m a lazy shit and didn’t feel up to a gyno poking. Even as I browsed the feminine care aisle at Mariano’s, I was constantly looking over my shoulder. What would people think if they knew that my vagina was growing YEAST and that I could probably bake bread in the itchy oven that I now referred to as my vagina?! I was mortified.
I came across several different kinds of treatments. The brand ‘Monistat’ stood out to me from commercials. Wasn’t that the one with the serious woman talking about yeast infection relief or was that ‘First Response’?? I was always mixing up the two.
I saw a seven day treatment, a three day treatment, and a 24-hour treatment. Hmmm, insert capsule into my vagina once a day for seven days, once a day for three days or STEP RIGHT UP FOLKS ONE TIME ONLY? I quickly grabbed the 24-hour capsule and a bag of Doritos to mask the box while in line, gave the 17-year old cashier an awkward smile and booked it home. I couldn’t wait to shove that tube inside of me.
And so I did. I shoved the tube inside of me and went about my business.
3AM. I awaken in a sweaty mess of sheets with the fire of hell burning in between my legs. It felt like a sea of fiery ants were crawling inside of me and like I was about to give birth to E.T. himself with whatever goo that was coming out of me. “What in the actual fuck of life is going on?” I was sweaty, crying and whimpering, rocking back in forth in my bed clinging to my vagina for dear life. I turned to Google and typed in, “Monistat 24-hour.” Sure enough, reviews upon reviews about how the 24-hour capsule is basically the 7-day dose on cocaine and the acid level was so fucking high that it was going to burn with the hatred of a thousand hell-bound souls. Some inflammation may also occur. Meaning, once a vagina, now a balloon.
The next day at work, I broke my silence. I whispered to the other girls while rolling silverware. “You guys, Monistat tried to kill me last night.” “Girrrrrlllllllllll,” they replied empathetically, “You should have told me! I have a pill you can take,” or, “Always use the 7-day dose,” or “Yeah, that sucks! I get them all the time.” The dose had worked, but that wasn’t the point.
I wanted to hug and kiss all my lady friends for being so honest about their lady parts. I hadn’t realized how common it was, how unembarrassed I should have been, or how little I actually knew about my vagina. I started to consult women about this everywhere. Older women simply looked at me and patted me on the shoulder like a dog who just learned a new trick. My mom disregarded my dramatics and sent meds with my sister in case the yeast ever struck again.
As for me, I just eat a cup of yogurt a few times a week and look down at my vagina. She smiles back and says, “Thanks for the probiotics, I love you too.”