“Some girls just get more discharge than others….unless of course they have cervical erosion”
As women I think we are sadly used to the extremely long waiting times for a health diagnosis…you know, that simple request of just wanting to know what is wrong with our own bodies, before we even attempt to tackle how to treat it? What’s worse is the level of fighting you have to endure to even get a doctor to believe that something is actually wrong with you, and that’s exactly what I encountered when it came to discovering that I had a great big ectropion on my cervix.
I spent four years soaking through thick night pads every single day.
I don’t know what happened, but my body one day decided to start making my life a misery. This is thankfully a gyno condition that I have since solved, however sadly I also have other issues still yet waiting for an answer. (Yay broken body)
I don’t think I remember the set day that I started to experience much heavier discharge than normal, nor do I remember the first time thinking ‘Ok Houston, we definitely have a problem…’. I had suffered from thrush for years on end and I believe when I first started to notice a difference in my discharge that I started to self treat and self diagnose with over the counter thrush medication believing that this must be the issue.
Over the counter thrush medication can consist of vaginal pessaries, oral tablets and creams, and you shouldn’t really treat yourself unless you are certain that thrush is what you have. I know the symptoms to look out for as I am a thrush veteran, and they can range from red angry sore skin, white thickish ‘yeasty’ discharge (delicious), to itching and burning. When over the counter meds didn’t seem to be giving me any relief from this sticky situation, I ended up visiting my GP. Upon looking at me they were pretty convinced that thrush was the issue because the discharge was disgustingly thick and heavy, however my vaginal swabs that were taken came back CLEAR. (To be clear I don’t remember being in pain or itching, it was just this constant wet flow of nastiness)
Despite clear thrush swabs, I was put on fluconazole for 6 months and vaginal pessaries for a week
That’s right, just drug me up, I don’t mind. Through baffled expressions my GP put me on a pretty intense course of treatment for thrush despite my results showing nothing. It seems that science and laboratory testing are wrong and GP’s eyeballs are right. To be honest, I think I almost agreed with her at the time but in the back of my mind I was thinking do you know what…. I don’t FEEL like this is thrush, but I’m happy to drench my body with anti-fungals if it means I get relief from this grotesque situation!
My discharge was so heavy it would soak through my underwear and thick denim jeans
Let’s dig a little deeper into what I was dealing with here. For context, my discharge was so heavy that it actually used to spatter onto the floor when I walked from the toilet to the shower, or when stepping out of the shower. I would have to wipe gloopy watery discharge from the toilet seat and mop it up off of the floor, it was THAT heavy. When walking around it would feel as if I had started my period or even accidentally wetting myself, and I would just feel a sudden warm rush of liquid and think ‘my god what is happening’. If I wasn’t wearing any sanitary protection, this discharge would be so watery it would soak completely through my underwear AND through thick denim jeans. I can’t explain the level of how uncomfortable I felt, nor the level of embarrassment I was made to feel for FOUR FUCKING YEARS.
I remember catching smell of it and thinking SHIT everyone is going to know, and then crying uncontrollably at who the fuck on this planet could ever love me or be with me with a vagina that was pumping out actual acid. “Oh hi there, do you think I look sexy in my M&S pants complete with tena lady and vinegar fragrance?” I remember being in a restaurant where someone had ordered breads with vinegar/oils and panicking thinking FUCK is that smell me?!
All in all, it was really quite a torturous moment in my life. The skin became so sore from constantly being so wet (think about it, if you keep licking your lips the skin becomes red raw right?) and it was so hard to feel remotely attractive or sexy. I couldn’t wear half of my wardrobe for the VPL that my humongous pants would cause, complete with thick nappy. It was clear that I did NOT have thrush, and therefore I went back to the GP.
“Some girls just get more discharge than others, and that is perfectly normal”
My god. After explaining all of the above to my GP, she replies with this. That what I am experiencing is normal. I remember being in a mix of wanting to cry and wanting to deck that woman to the floor. How dare you say that? I can tell you right now that this is not normal, this is not something my body has always been doing, there has been a DRAMATIC change, I am in pain, I smell, and you are honestly going to feed me the bullshit that this is normal? Girl I did not drag my sorry arse to your surgery room to hear this. Yes OK, what was said is strictly true, girls do experience greater or lesser volumes. But if I’m point blank telling you that something has seriously changed, then why aren’t you taking the time to listen to me? Or even take a look and see for yourself?!
I was constantly dismissed and had honestly spent MONTHS crawling Google desperately trying to find an answer. How annoying is it when you find a really old forum that sounds like your issue and you open it and realise it was from 2008? There were no answers anywhere. I was constantly just fed back with ‘thrush’ ‘bacterial vaginosis’ ‘STI’ and I knew it was none of those things because I’d been swabbed within an inch of my life and everything was clear.
I brought my own research to the GP
With help from my mum, we came across a condition called Cytolytic Vaginosis on a New Zealand website, which was something I hadn’t come across before and seemed like it COULD maybe be the answer (I can tell you now that it wasn’t, but I’ll get to that). I brought my findings to my GP and she said that it was a good start, that she would help me get to the bottom of it, and that she didn’t know what cytolytic vaginosis was, however what did she do? She retired.
If I explain Cytolytic Vaginosis briefly, it’s basically when there is too much of the GOOD bacteria in the vaginal environment. I thought this could be relative to me as I’d been treated for thrush so much that perhaps I was now far too acidic in my pH balance and that I didn’t have enough of the bad bacteria? Other symptoms being excessive watery discharge and the acidic type smell I was experiencing, it did kind of make sense?
I poured a whole tub of bicarbonate of soda in my bath every single night
It said for Cytolytic Vaginosis that bathing in bicarbonate soda or sitz baths would help alleviate symptoms, and therefore in my desperation I would completely douse myself in this solution trying to make sure all the water was getting ‘shoved’ up there whilst moving up and down the bath like a mad woman. Can I just point out, that although this weird idea DID seem to clear up my discharge (only for the DAY after and then it was back and another bath needed) you should NOT DO THIS. Bicarbonate of soda will encourage a more alkaline pH environment which is not what the vagina needs to be and can lead to further infections, as well as being extremely drying to the skin. I was just desperate and was getting nowhere with answers.
I had an early smear test at 24 as the only thing left on the list of tests, was to check for cancer
I can’t believe how hard it was to find someone that would be happy to smear test me early, even though I was only a year (few months) below the national age. Considering my circumstances, and the fact that every single other condition was ruled out, surely I should have been checked a lot sooner? I actually had a gynaecology appointment with the NHS at my local hospital, and whilst she was examining me I asked if I could please have a smear. Thankfully because of my journey I was permitted one, and I’m happy to say that despite the fear I endured for weeks thinking I had cervical cancer, my smear test was clear. Now this is where it gets infuriating…..as the nurse put the speculum in and looked at my cervix, she said ‘Oh! You’ve got some cervical ectropions here’… sorry cervical what? ‘Big red patches on your cervix’ AHHH I SEE! You mean the glaringly obvious red patches up my vagina that NO doctor has successfully been able to see? Do they need to test their eyes? Could they just not be arsed? Do they not know a cervix is not meant to be bright red?
I was sent to get cryotherapy, to remove my cervical ectropions
Thankfully the nurse I had seen had paid attention in her gynaecology lectures at med school because LORD BEHOLD. I had a freaking solution. Cervical ectropions (also known as cervical erosion) are where the cells from the lining of your cervix move to the outside of the cervix. These cells are a lot softer, and squamous (meaning secrete mucus etc) and the outside of your cervix is meant to be TOUGH cells. Because of this, I WAS GETTING THE HEAVY AS FUCK DISCHARGE. Ectropions are not health concerns, they are not dangerous, but they can cause very unpleasant symptoms, being this vile discharge & for some could cause bleeding after sex or irregular spotting.
Cryotherapy is one method used to remove said ectropions, and is done so through freezing with liquid nitrogen. I can write another post about the procedures elsewhere because it’s a whole other ball park, but it didn’t hurt whilst getting it done (no numbing was given) and recovery was UNPLEASANT (it gets way more watery as the cervix heals) but after 4 weeks MY DISCHARGE WAS BACK TO NORMAL !!!
….5 months of relief and then…the ectropions returned…oh boy
5 months later post surgery, when I was enjoying myself in sunny Barcelona, I noticed my pants were soaking. wet. Oh no. Please no. I thought because of the hot weather and tight shorts it could just be thrush, however after taking medication and waiting it out, it was just getting worse and worse. Luckily (in a way) I knew what the problem was, so I checked myself into the GP as soon as possible and asked if they could check whether my ectropions were back, of which they were, and even worse than before.
I had private healthcare with my job at that time so I jumped on that straight away, but annoyingly it took so long because the machine needed for cryotherapy was broken and no new parts were being ordered (great?). When I finally had an appointment, it was cancelled, literally as I was walking out of the door they rang to cancel it. It was still a good few weeks of living in a soggy mess (I was in a relationship at this point so sex was not on the cards) before I was finally seen, by a male gynaecologist, with the exact same name as my Dad….both first and last names. Dad? Is that you?
Without any warning an old man’s fingers were up my vagina
Yup, You read that correctly. Despite having a chaperone in the room with me (female), as soon as the speculum was removed, he asked if he could feel my tummy. Of course, I said yes, and he placed a hand on my stomach but then simultaneously slid two fingers up my vagina. I did NOT expect this. This was the first time in all my years of gynae that someone had ever used a finger in my vagina and I was really unsure as to what this was doing, other than making me feel extremely uncomfortable and horrified that someone older than my Dad had just fingered me. Really I should have complained thinking back to it, but I think I was just in too much shock and assumed he was just doing his job, which he was, he just never gave me any warning.
This time around I was actually sent for a LEEP procedure over cryotherapy, because it’s a more intensive surgery and more likely to keep them away. I also underwent a polypectomy as I had a tiny cervical polyp that was found through a hysteroscopy (camera in the womb) so this was also removed. This time i was sedated which I was terrified for as I’d never been sedated before, but I don’t remember any of the procedure and therefore felt no pain throughout. Again, recovery was unpleasant with really mucky watery discharge for about 6 weeks but after that, back to normal!
The pill caused my cervical erosion
I wanted to understand why my cervical ectropions had returned so soon after surgery the first time around, and this male gynaecologist explained to me that my body is forever adapting to the way it reacts with contraception. I didn’t know that. I was confused why my body suddenly decided to act this way, but it’s simply that, my body is growing and changing everyday and therefore the pill did start to become an issue for me. The pill I took was ovranette (combined pill) and the reason it causes cervical erosion is because of the extreme hormonal imbalance. I had been on the pill for about 9 years and my body was pumping around not only artificial hormones, but suppressing my natural hormone production, and just sending my whole system off track. I have therefore stopped all contraception, and just over a year later, my ectropions STILL have NOT returned.
Can we get an amen?