A year ago I was diagnosed with my first yeast infection. I took diflucan and monistat, and my symptoms went away after about a week. But the infection kept coming back every other month, and subsequent bouts would last for a month at a time. In November 2011, I had what I thought were YI symptoms; my vulva was red and burning, but there wasn't discharge. I went to a doctor who said it was no longer a YI, but now was just contact dermatitis. She prescribed a steroid cream Triamcinolone Ecetonide Cream (0.1%), and after a couple weeks I was finally cured.
About a month ago, the symptoms came back with a vengeance. Very red vulva with a burning/irritating pain, and some days at work it's hard to sit for so many hours. There are no bumps, no rash, and no cracked skin, it's just general redness on the entire vulva. I went to a Gyno who also thought I had contact dermatitis (the vagina itself is pain-free and not irritated, and there's no discharge), and again prescribed the Triamcinolone cream. That did nothing, so I went back to a different Gyno. I asked about vulvodynia, but she was confident that it wasn't that, as I didn't have pain on contact, and she said that vulvodynia sufferers don't usually have visible symptoms like I do. She prescribed a stronger steroid cream, Clobetasol Propionate Ointment (0.05%). I already use that for eczema flare-ups on my elbows, so I was confident it would work. But after a week, the symptoms got even worse. My vulva was red to the point where it was almost this harsh purple color. I called the Gyno and she said to stop using the Ointment, and instead take a salt bath twice a day and use Vaseline until her next opening on Thursday.
So here I am, scared that my hoo ha will be burning and red for the rest of my life. The Vaseline is somewhat soothing, but what really helps is hanging out in my apartment without pants or underwear on, airing it out next to an open window on the couch with my butt almost literally in the air (which my husband thinks is kind of hysterical). Last night, doing this for a few hours while watching TV really helped (the redness went down quite a bit), but this morning I woke up and it was right back to it's "normal" red/irritated self. Hmph.
Has anyone ever experienced anything similar? Some other things about myself to note:
- I'm 25, married, and have been with my husband for 6 years. He's very understanding, and we've avoided sex for a few weeks just in case, but sex itself isn't too painful and doesn't really make this worse.
- Have been tested for every STD in the book, all negative.
- I've been exercising a lot recently; we're going on a tropical vacation in a month so I wanted to lose 6 pounds (and reached my goal weight yesterday, woohoo!). I thought it might be the exercise & sweat causing these symptoms, but I stopped exercising for a week and the symptoms didn't go away.
- My skin is generally very sensitive so the contact dermatitis diagnosis made sense to me, but the fact that no medicine is working is really unsettling. I also don't heal very well (I've had unrelated surgery before, with very slow recoveries), so the option of having a biopsy down there is pretty much out of the question.
If anyone has any ideas for what this could be, I'd love to hear it. The amount of times I've heard "I don't know" from doctors over the past year is just weird; I can't be the only one who's been through this.