The Vagenda

“Women’s Problems” Isn’t Just a Phrase, It’s an Attitude, and it Costs Lives

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 15.21.53

Photo: Isn’t cystitis CUTE?

“Having your period does not mean you’re ill” barked our school nurse, as a hundred awkward 14-year-old girls fidgeted in their seats, the braver ones exchanging raised eyebrows and remarks.  This was one in a series of puberty talks that tried to make us feel ‘normal’ about our changing bodies.  A noble effort, but one that offered little comfort when I was sitting in a maths lesson, insides squirming, abdomen aching, trying to concentrate on learning basic algebra and feeling much too embarrassed to go to said nurse for a painkiller.

Yes, menstruation is normal and in no way an illness, but it can also be incredibly uncomfortable, to the point of leaving some women bedridden for a couple of days.  I had a friend at uni who suffered from such bad period pains that she regularly threw up and sometimes even fainted.  I have a colleague who suffers from such extreme PMS that she worries about suffering a mood swing at work and risking her professional reputation.

Living in the UK, I am incredibly privileged in terms of healthcare and access to sanitary items, and I know that menstruation for women living in poverty and in other societies is incredibly traumatic.  However, even in the developed world, I can’t help feeling that there is still a problem when it comes to dealing with female-specific health issues.

The term ‘women’s problems’ has been appropriated by Western society, and particularly by men who can’t bear to acknowledge that delicate, pretty women bleed once a month. “Women’s problems” is used to brush off anything generically associated with the female reproductive system, whether physical or psychological.

In isolation, this would not be too serious. However, from personal experience I know that the trivialising of women’s health can have devastating effects. Sadly, it extends far beyond the extreme discomfort of period pains not being taken seriously.

It seems that the medical profession has also been taken in by this idea of ‘women’s problems’, no matter how serious the symptoms may be.  My family learnt this the hard way when the nurse taking my mother’s smear dismissed her concerns about painful sex and bleeding between periods as ‘something that happens to women of a certain age’ (she was in her early 40s at the time) and didn’t flag for her smear to be given special attention.

That was the 4th out of 5 smears that were misread (an unrelated and very unlucky situation), and by the time my mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer, it was very advanced.

Five years later, and a year after my mother’s death, I noticed a lump in my breast.  I went to the GP, and within two weeks had been referred to a specialist clinic, given an ultrasound and told it was nothing to worry about.

I couldn’t help compare the speed and efficiency with which something breast-related was dealt with compared to a gynaecological issue.  It seems that breasts are quite acceptable now, whereas female genitalia are still somewhat taboo and mysterious, and can therefore be dismissed more readily when they start playing up.  Again, this is a problem that is deeply serious in developing countries, where cervical cancer is a huge killer due to the stigma surrounding it (it’s often misconstrued as an STI).

My frustration with the medical profession’s attitude towards women’s health was stoked once again when I started having regular sex with my boyfriend and rapidly entered a vicious cycle of thrush and cystitis.  Whilst the GP was helpful in treating the symptoms, I received no support when I suggested there might be an underlying cause.

As any sufferer is aware, both of these conditions are incredibly uncomfortable, to the point of being debilitating if they’re severe. And yet, whilst I confided my suffering to my sympathetic female friends and understanding boyfriend, I felt too embarrassed to ever use them to excuse myself from classes or later work, instead clenching my teeth and dosing up on painkillers to try to get through.

When I went to my GP for what must have been the 15th time in two years (and that’s not counting the times I self-treated) and pressed upon her that I was now constantly exhausted and almost always had a cold, as well as the recurrent infections, she told me that some women are just susceptible to thrush/cystitis, and that if it was getting me down she could prescribe me with anti-depressants.  Good plan GP: if you can’t solve it, going down the “hysterical woman” route is always a safe bet.

Despairing, and half-thinking I was going mad; I sought alternative therapies, something that I was pretty skeptical about.  In a very roundabout way, I ended up seeing a nutritionist, who diagnosed me with systemic candida.  This is not a condition that is recognized by the NHS, although it is in many other countries.  It is probably one of the most under-diagnosed conditions in the UK, affecting almost solely women.  It’s easy enough to get rid of once you know about it, but the fact that the mains symptoms are often an amalgamation of ‘women’s problems’ means that, predictably, the medical profession has largely ignored it, at least in the UK.

It is difficult to know how to address the fact that many women suffer in silence, to whatever extent (my mum and I being at opposite ends of the scale) due to the societal and medical attitudes towards women’s health problems.

Going back to my terrifying school nurse, who showed us horrific pictures of pus-encrusted penises to scare us into using condoms, I think that a more honest, practical approach to sex education (especially for girls but also for boys) would be a good way to start.

In addition to making teenagers write out lists of all the various STIs they could contract, it might be helpful to teach girls how to avoid and treat the much more common problems they are likely to encounter as they enter the world of sex.

Off the top of my head, girls should be taught that: cystitis can often be avoided by peeing after sex, recurrent thrush might mean you should use lube, hormones (whether your own or from the pill) can have a huge impact on your physical and emotional wellbeing and, most importantly, you should be in no way embarrassed by any of the above.

Teaching women early about the realities of the human female body in all its glory and tendency to malfunction would achieve two things. Firstly, it would help women have a better understanding of their own bodies, and therefore make them better equipped to notice when things are going wrong.  Secondly, it would make women more comfortable about being pushy when raising any health concerns.

I would like to live in a world where I feel completely at ease to email my boss in and tell him I can’t come into work because I need to pee every 10 minutes and when I do it burns like a motherfucker. I would like to live in a world where I put my name on this article because I shouldn’t be ashamed of the fact that my gynecological and overall wellbeing suffered for several years due to a dismissive GP. I would like to live in a world where no woman ignores bleeding, pain or any abnormal symptoms because they are too embarrassed.

As long as the phrase ‘women’s problems’ is employed with that slight blush and smirk, and as long as doctors dismiss their patients with the phrase ‘it’s just something that happens to women your age’, over half of the global population is going to be at risk of avoidable discomfort and illness.

So, if anyone is reading this and thinking there might be something wrong with their downstairs, be persistent, don’t let embarrassment get in the way and don’t let anyone dismiss your concerns as ‘women’s problems’.

34 thoughts on ““Women’s Problems” Isn’t Just a Phrase, It’s an Attitude, and it Costs Lives

  1. There’s a running joke among the women in my family that any health problem will be attributed to age or hormones. It’s funny but also disturbing since my temporal lobe epilepsy was assumed to be PMS for several years.

  2. I have endometriosis, a disease that one in ten women have, is more common than diabetes, yet no one talks about it. Your friend that threw up and fainted from pain during her period? She probably has it. It makes me so angry that I was brushed off for years about something that made sex painful, going to the toilet extremely uncomfortable, and periods (and the week before) unbearable. We need to talk about this stuff.

  3. I can’t believe your GP suggested anti-depressants when you went to visit with legit genital problems. That’s totally mad. I really feel for you – cystitis and thrush are the WORST. I recently had a bad bout of cystitis and I was too embarrassed to tell my housemates why I was in the loo all day, yet a couple of weeks before that, having food poisoning seemed totally explainable and legit. Ridiculous.

    (P.S. to all ladies still on the hunt for good cystitis relief, when cranberry juice just won’t cut it – squeeze an entire lemon in a glass of water, your urethra may thank you!)

  4. I lost one ovary because I was sent home from the hospital with constipation. The same evening my mum decided to take me back and that doctor realized I needed to be admitted. The next day, first thing I was sent to a gynecologist and about and hour after that I was being operated on.
    If that first doctor hadn’t assumed that 1. my mum was hysterical and that 2. the teenager is faking I would have both my ovaries today.

    I also had a GP who wouldn’t listen when I said my stomach always hurt and I was always tired and got sick a lot. She also offered anti-depressives like yours. Turned out I had gallstones and had had them for about 2 years. Thankfully my GP went on vacation and the problem was caught by the GP standing in for my normal one.

  5. Thank you so much for writing this. It’s the second time this year that i get thrush, the first time round it lasted nearly 3 months because my GP kept treating me for cystitis…and right now I’m self medicating when i know i shouldn’t be, i just dont trust my GP to take my problems seriously. Your article has convinced me that my future well being is worth fighting for. So thank you! Hopefully i can get rid of it for good!

  6. I know exactly how you feel. This is a brilliant article. Two great friends were stuck in the cystitis – thrush loop for years, and I had recurrent thrush for about three years. My boyfriend although sympathetic was beginning to think that I wasn’t attracted to him, and it became a serious issue for our relationship, sex life and even mental health. As well as very uncomfortable for me.

    I went to the doctor about eight times, just to be given some canisten and be told that I was probably wearing the wrong kind of knickers, or wiping my bum the wrong way. The implication was that I was either to blame / an idiot / or somehow unclean.

    EVENTUALLY I went to a local clinic for sexual health and an amazing doctor talked me through it all and after me explaining that I had tried literally everything (cut down on sugar in my diet, only wore cotton underwear, stopped wearing tights, had my boyfriend treated etc etc etc) she suggested trying aqueous cream. Sorry for getting specific, but this saved my relationship and ended years of discomfort. So here goes: cover your fanny with aqueous cream before you shower (to protect it from other products), wash hair/ body as normal, and then wash your fanny last only with aqueous cream. Do not have baths with any products in them. It is a very delicate balance ‘down there’ and for many people normal wash products are too harsh. Don’t buy any of the ‘feminine hygiene’ wash stuff either as that can be too harsh as well. This one very kind doctor who took me seriously has helped my entire group of friends. These issues are so often trivialised, and aren’t exactly glamourous, and the long lasting solutions aren’t making money for drug companies so the effort is never made to deal with them properly. Well written and sorry for proselytising!!

  7. Great article thank you!

    I’ve had cystitis on and off (interspered with the odd case of thrush) since I started having sex, so about 10 years, all infections requiring antibiotics. I finally got referred to a specialist last year, but they couldn’t see anything wrong so have been given antibiotics to take every time I have sex (mood killer, but my boyfriend is great about it – usually reminding me when I forget!).

    I wonder whether I may have systemic candida as I also have IBS, and am constantly shattered and getting colds. Seems all the symptoms match. I’ll do some more investigation but would love to hear what you did to get rid of yours?

  8. Great article! Weeing after sex should definitely become common knowledge, would have saved me a lot of painful wasted days. I can’t say any more apart from I wholeheartedly agree with this entire piece.

  9. Thanks for this. It is ridiculous how difficult it is to talk openly about these things. Last week I had crippling period pains and found it really different to get through my work. I had woken up the night before at 2am, and wasn’t able to get back to sleep because of the pain. I knew there was no point saying anything as it wouldn’t get taken seriously, and spent the whole day struggling with a brain that didn’t work through lack of sleep and horrible stomach cramps. I wish I could have just been honest and phoned up, explaining the situation and that I might have to work from home but I knew it would cause such a fuss that it wasn’t worth the hassle.

  10. Not eating too much sugar and eating yogurt has helped me, also cranberry juice and one paracetamol. Also I discovered I need to wear a pantliner daily and change it after exercise! Peeing before sleeping does help too. Oh how I hate cystitis and am glad I’ve found ‘solutions’. My mum always advised to not wear pants to bed unless I was on my period so I think that’s helped.

  11. I think early teens need to be taught about the basic chemistry of the vagina too; yeast, PH balance etc. It underpins so many ‘women problems’ and better knowledge would help in maintaining a healthy vagina/ urethra

  12. Hi Sian,

    I went on an anti-candida diet:

    Basically it involves cutting out sugar, gluten and quite a lot of other stuff. It’s very worth it though. Your symptoms do sound like you might have systemic candida so it might be worth trying. You could always visit a nutritionist for verification.

    Good luck!

  13. I’ve spent many an unfun day in the workplace mainlining mefenamic acid for the pain, and feeling utterly sleep deprived because I had to do a 3am emergency bedding wash and then hug a hot water bottle for an hour. Having to answer “nope, all fine here” wears very thin, I agree.

    I have just switched to the Mirena coil after finally giving up on the pill, so fingers crossed the future involves less of this – not sure if it’s worth looking into in your case?

  14. I get ridiculous insomnia in the week coming up to my period, My IBS goes haywire (male GP said hormones cannot affect it. Female GP said they do) then the migraines, not every month but they are there and I get them in clusters.

    I had a coil fitted to ease my periods but I’ve been, mood wise, on the low side to depressed since having it put in whereas before I’d get the depressive bouts and return to my own level of normal. Not to mention the almost complete inability to orgasm.

    every DR has dismissed it as stress, not aroused, needing to use lube even after a detailed discuss that arousal was clearly not the issue!
    Its taken up until now to link my contraceptives to my Mental health and sexual problems. Didnt take a GP to do. It was looking up the updated side effects list for the coil. Turns out I’m no good with hormonal contraceptives.

    Felt as though no one was really bothered because the coil was in place, I was managing (just about).

  15. Like Libby above, I also have endometriosis. I remember the talk by our PE teacher at the start of every year telling us that ‘being on your period is not an excuse to sit out’. She had clearly never experienced a condition where internal bleeding, adhesions and scar tissue comes part and parcel with your period. I spent at least 3 days a month gripping my desk in school trying not to pass out from the pain, usually giving up and going home sick by the end of day 3 or 4. Yet it took me fainting in the middle of a shopping centre for my doctor to take me seriously and refer me to a gynecologist

    When I eventually got to see the gyne, he had the attitude described above-imagine, a man chooses to be a gyne but is dismissive of ‘womens’ problems’. I mean hello! that’s your job! He asked me if I was in pain ‘right now’ When I replied that I wasn’t but had been that morning, his response was, ah sure you’re grand just stay on the pill. He then asked was I sexually active, when I replied no, he said ‘oh well I’m sure you wouldn’t say if you were with your mum sitting here ha ha ha’. It’s not like we are discussing something important like my health here, laugh it up doc!

    Thankfully, I managed to find a wonderful female gyne with lots of experience with endometriosis, I was diagnosed and treated in the same day and have been mostly pain free ever since. I would urge anyone who encounters a doctor with a ‘womens’ problems attitude, seek a second opinion and even a third if you need to. We don’t need to put up with poor health just because some people are too embarrassed to talk about it!

  16. This is very true, there still seems to be a bit of a hangover of the old Victorian attitude that women should expect to feel a bit terrible sometimes and not moan, and anyway if you do feel bad it’s probably your own fault anyway…

    I once saw a very patronising doctor when I went in to plead for antibiotics after a week of cystitis… he seemed to think I had no business telling him what was wrong with me (I mean how would I know, right?). His face when I brought back a fairly alarming looking wee sample was a picture – I have to admit, I did leave it a moment before I told him I was also on my period… :D

    I got my antibiotics.

  17. Great article. Another huge hate of mine, along these lines, is the false idea that we need fancy soaps etc for our vaginas. It’s pretty much the only thing that we’re told in media etc – that it smells gross, and that women who use this soap etc are more desirable.

  18. When I started my period, the bed I was using in the hotel room I was staying in with my mum and dad was like a horror film! Why say that you only bleed a couple of tablespoons worth!?

    I went to my doc with my mum, I said “I’m bleeding 7-9 days a month while on my period. He chuckled and said “haha, yeah, my 6 year old SON said his leg hurt too much to go to school today, I asked him about the pain and he e died up going to school.”…

    WTF does that have to do with anything!?

    Now days 16 years later, I’m on the depot provers injection, I bleed non stop for 2 out of 3 months, but they’re lighter periods and almost painless majority of the time.

    I was once on a pill that had me flooding, having clots, staring in to space for the first 2 days of period, sweating, being sick, unable to concentrate on anything. A slight chill or my tummy muscles tension g when I was upset sent things from bad to worse.

    So comparatively, this is beautiful! No pain!

    The best docs diagnosis wasn’t even “ladies problems” but the guy spoke to me like an idiot and was showing off to the student doc in the room.
    I said, “last week I felt fine, but from monday onwards blood was coming out of my throat”
    He said “that’ll be from coughing.”
    I said “I hadn’t started coughing til a week later. But now its Wednesday and I’ve been feverish, sick, coughing”
    So he cheked me over, my throat, temperature, looked down my throat and said “it’s tonsillitis”
    I said “it isn’t”
    He said “are you joking!? Stop arguing with me!”
    I said “but i had my tonsils removed 18 years ago” but what would I know, I’m not a doctor.
    So he misdiagnosed me with pharyngitis, sent me home with antibiotics, and I had this illness for two weeks a month for the next THREE months while trying to work on my degree!

  19. It took around 2-3 years of my constant pressure to get my GP (female) to refer me to have scans and then eventually an laparoscopy to diagnose severe endometryosis so that i could then go through a number of operations to laser it off and remove an ovary… it really was a case of ohhh calm down dear it is just period pains, take and asprin and get over it rather than taking my symptoms seriously.

  20. That first friend of yours sounds just like me. Of course I wasn’t taken seriously at school despite practically dying in my lessons and needing to go home and thinking I can’t do that too often otherwise nobody will take me seriously

  21. My aunt didn’t get her endometriosis diagnosed until her 40′s, after 10 years of trying for children. She ended up infertile and having to adopt because of it. Although she now says she wouldn’t change anything for the world she says she still resents the 30 years she spent in pain and all the doctors who said ‘it’s just your period, deal with it’.

    My mother also spent years with horrendous periods/battling fertility problems before being told she had PCOS. They’re in their 50′s and 30 years later I’ve spent 5 + years trying to get my own PCOS taken seriously (I’m 22) after endless ‘take some hi-strength painkillers/it’s just PMS’ chat. The attitude towards these illnesses is medieval!

  22. Cystitis. I was plagued, like many, for years. I kept asking, doesn’t it have to do with, I dunno, diet or something? One doc reluctantly told me about the diet tips (which we all know: nicx the caffeine, etc.etc.). But guess what?

    I figured it out for myself.

    After being forced to wait for a doc appointment (thank you USA system), I decided: If I need to pee all the time, I’ gonna make damn sure there’s something there to pee. So I drank a crapload of water. And suddenly… a lot less cystitis.

    Many times too, docs on those see-you-much-later appointments have found no bacteria at all. One doc (bless him) gave me the choice about taking antibiotics or not.

    Cystitis has to do with sex. No, not the way you think. Your lady bits swell with arousal. (you’ve probably seen the diagram or something similar to:
    and sorry for the lack of techy skills to make that a real link.)

    Incidently, this tissue also protects the urethra *from the inside*. If penetrative sex happens too fast for your body, well, there’s a MUCH MUCH MUCH huge-ish risk of cystitis, from being rubbed without being protected. A live wire, if you will. Lots, I mean LOTS of water (enough to pee every time you need to pee) helps, and heat on the belly, and chamomile tea. After about 12 hours it goes away.

    So make sure you reallyl *are* really for that thang in ya. Since I figured this out, I ‘ve gone from 3-4 debilitating cytitis attacks a year to about one mild cystitis attack every 3-4 years.

    After a few sexual partners

  23. Whoops, missed an edit there at the end. : -) That was “I figured it out after a few sexual partners.” Just don’t be too eager to please without making sure you’re in a pleasing way. :-)

  24. Whilst doing work experience at a GP surgery, I was shadowing a doctor who performed some very arbitrary checks and gave seemingly irrelevant advice to a woman complaining about discomfort when peeing, without even considering any further treatment for her. The doctor seemed to just want to get her appointment over with and dismissed the symptoms as nothing to worry about…saying after she left; “that woman is obsessed with her undercarriage”.

  25. I’m so glad I found this article, thank you for having the courage to write it.

    I haven’t been diagnosed with anything because my doctors simply don’t understand what I’m talking about when I try trying discuss this but for the whole of the week before my period my vag is tender and painful, right up the canal, and is certainly too tender to attempt sex.

    This is handy in one respect because it tells me that I only have a few more days before I bleed and not being on any birth control (I’m 41 and had my tubes tied 10 years ago) it is a way of reminding me of this.

    In the absence of any professional medical advice I have turned to the Internet to see if anyone else reports the same sensation but alas no, or at least no one is saying so.

    Does anyone else have a sensation around the vulva and vagina that is uncomfortable but not around ways painful both of the skin and feeling as if it interns just below the skin too?

    I have found information on vulvadinya [sp?] but the symptoms, whilst close, don’t match and my doctors have never heard of this and won’t refer me to a specialist.


  26. You may also look into the possibility of adrenal exhaustion. My MD/ND/endocrinologist diagnosed me with that after treating me for hypo-thyroid. She sent me to this site:

    I bought the book, did what it said and am gradually pulling out of a wretched tailspin that at its worst had me bedridden and literally crawling to the bathroom because I was too tired to stand and walk the whole 15 feet or so. My symptoms were IBS-c (which responded very well to a “paleo” type diet- no grains, rice, soy or beans), chronic colds which turned into bronchitis every single winter and less and less energy to do anything.

    I’ve been doing the “paleo” thing for over ten years now and love it! Bacon and eggs for breakfast every day! My doctors are very happy with my blood work (cholesterol included) and the exhaustion has relented enough to let me have a fairly normal life including walking, riding horses occasionally and generally not being exhausted all the time.

    Re: candida- that’s my latest issue which I’ve had to deal with a few times in my life. Right now I’m working with a naturopath who started me on a couple of doses of Nystatin ten days apart and a diet low in processed sugar or anything that turns into sugar like alcohol, grains, rice, etc. plus a dose of oregano oil at the top of every meal and finishing with saccharomyces boulardii (a probiotic) at the end of every meal. Potatoes and quinoa don’t seem to bother me thank heavens! Nystatin and oregano oil are both hard on the liver so can’t be done for really long periods.

    For diet help here’s where I go most of the time:

    Good luck and I hope you feel really better soon!

  27. I know someone who had cluster headaches. They got up to 18 months relief using mushrooms (magic). They worked for less if they were stressed out (e.g. 9-12 months of relief) and LSD is not as effective as the mushrooms.

    They fly to Bali where they can be legally purchased. They lock themselves in a hotel room with a friend (for supervision) and see elephants for a few hours, see the country a bit then fly home. Not everyone may have the funds to do this…

    Obviously self treatment is not ideal, but this person vomits and blacks-out from the pain on a regular basis. Strong pain killers don’t work for them. So few people suffer from cluster headaches that it’s not financially viable to develop medication, or so I’m told. The person I know, is desperate for the pain to stop and is prepared to try anything since life wasn’t really worth living for them, with cluster headaches. This may or may not be your headache situation. You’d have to do tonnes of research and be very, very careful about it, as my friend did.

  28. I’ve got the copper coil now as my pill was making me severely depressed, hormone treatments are not for me either. I feel 100% better – such a relief – after going off the pill, only downside is that my periods now last for 2 weeks and are very painful.

    I’ve got a few friends on the pill who show many depressive symptoms similar to mine, yet all are not keen to go off the pill. I wish someone would have told me all the side effects (that are more common than suggested!!) that may come, my mental health is far more important to me than contraception. I feel like there needs to be more dialogue on hormonal contraceptives for women.

  29. My sophomore year of high school, my period went absolutely crazy. I was bleeding more often than not, and while wearing a super plus tampon, two supers, and an over night maxi pad all at once, I would bleed through all of them in about an hour. Two if I was lucky. And the cramps were excruciating. Right before my senior year started, my mom made me set up an appointment at planned parenthood saying the pill would regulate my period. She instructed me to very specifically say I was planning to be sexually active because they would give me a stronger pill if I wanted to prevent pregnancy as opposed to fixing my period. The two years I was on it I was finally regular again, but at one point I decided to go off the pill since I was single and had no plans to be sexually active. I had almost no period for about a year, then I met someone. After being sexually active for about a year, my period became bad again. Some of it I think was because certain positions were very painful because he was hitting things he shouldn’t and I would bleed after. But also, the heavy flow and massive cramps returned. After almost a year of trying for a baby (Which I am now grateful never happened, since we had a bad split) I went to a doctor who told me that if we were going to conceive we would have within the year and that I didn’t have enough symptoms to diagnose, but she thought I had PCOS which meant I would most likely never be able to have a baby, so I may as well quit trying and go on the pill to fix my symptoms. When I told her I didn’t want that, she said weight loss might help, so I decided to try that and she wanted me to keep a period journal and come in monthly to assess my progress and if after a few months I wasn’t “getting better” she really really wanted me on the pill. I was getting some results with the weight loss as time went on, though it was slight and I stopped seeing the dr. When I met my current BF I went back on the pill, but this time to actually prevent pregnancy and my period is mostly normal now. I’m planning to switch to Mirena so I don’t have to worry about remembering to take my pill since my life is hectic and I never know from day to day where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing when it is pill time.

  30. All your experiences sound awful! Is there anything we can do about asshole doctors? I mean something more than just switching to a new doctor. They are actively not doing their job. Surely there must be some way to force them to take you seriously/show them how wrong they are getting it and how sexist and patronising they are?

  31. After going to my GP with repeated thrush pretty much anytime I had sex, it was Google that saved my sex life. And it wasn’t anything dodgy. I don’t normally advocate medical advice on google but after being told it happens and sent away with a printout that must have been made in the 70s I had to do something. And I’d like to share what I learned: it is not as simple as just using lube. Some lubes are irritant, specifically glycerin based ones were driving me mad. I didn’t even know they made different types. Anyway I switched and the difference was immediate. The last time I had thrush was when I spoke to that GP. I know this won’t help everyone but it’s so simple I hope it might help a few.

  32. Coconut oil as lube and treatment for thrush. Also for pityriasis/tinea and other fungal skin infections.

    Coconut oil has anti-fungal properties, it’s cheap, an effective lubricant, free of additives – and edible. Just sayin.

  33. Brilliant article! I’m a member of women’s service and campaigning organisation Soroptimist International. One of our areas of work this year is to raise awareness of the symptoms of endometriosis amongst young women and girls. Thank you to everyone for sharing their stories on here – makes me realize this is a really important piece of work. For more info please see