Today would be a good day to be a man. About a month and a half ago I noticed an unusual mass in my right breast. It was exceedingly painful, which earned me Google results of it NOT being a tumour, which was a relief; typically when I Google any symptoms I have, I am almost immediately convinced that I have a) cancer b) an aneurysm
I went and had it checked, and my doctor was fairly confident that it was a cyst. Another exam to follow up on it after it grew again in conjunction with my moon resulted in the same diagnosis, but being conscientious is my doctor's speciality, so she booked me in for an ultrasound. Today is the day - and while I am confident that her diagnosis is correct, it still has me a little jittery to be going for a test to rule out cancer. It seems that it has its icy fingers of doom on so many lives that I know; taking breasts, hair, pieces of bone, legs, energy and happiness from incredible people. I live an anti-cancer lifestyle - organic, tons of vegetables, natural beauty and cleaning products, yoga, meditation, Jikiden Reiki, expressing my feelings, etc. I am still apprehensive. Reminding myself that I am in good hands, and that I have the tools that I need to care for myself as well. Elemental is gorgeous-ly supportive, and it's good to know that he would stand by me through anything.
Also taking in a swab, and wondering if others in the poly/queer community have had experiences with BV with multiple partnerships? I'm not a squeamish girl, and don't mind talking about body issues in general. Have always been body and sex positive, and sometimes wonder why people don't talk about sexual health more on this forum. We went through a bit of a scary time with Sync; I started exhibiting symptoms that reminded me of a bladder infection - pain, a feeling like I needed to urinate - the doctor prescribed antibiotics twice, and it didn't go away. A slightly thicker discharge started accompanying it, and it smelled differently than usual. I told Sync about it, and she mentioned she had been experiencing that too. I got tested, and re-tested, and my doctor couldn't put her finger on it. I felt inadvertantly shamed about my lifestyle when she pointed to having multiple partners as the possible reason for my symptoms, and I went through three rounds of urine, blood and swab tests to rule out STIs. (Sidenote - nice to be able to say, "Oh I DEFINITELY am clear of STI's... three times over, actually....!"
She finally sent me to a gynocologist. He (and his very nervy practicum gyno student, who was trying to look cool when I told her I had three lovers besides my husband) diagnosed me with BV after some tests, prescribed a different kind of antiobiotics, and when he followed up with a phone call I exclaimed, "Thank you so much for giving me my vagina back! I've been at odds with her for months, and now we can be friends again!" to which he laughed and laughed. I love my pussy - it's the source of so much pleasure, and the centre of my femininity; it's precious to me, and I bring a lot of pleasure to others with it too. Having animosity towards it had been emotionally puzzling and exhausting! It was nice to be on the same team as her again, LOLOLOL. He sent me home with two swab tests, and has another round of antibiotics on file at the pharmacy, "If you exhibit symptoms again, take a swab and send it in, and I'll let you know if you need to fill your prescription again." I liked his style, and was SO relieved to be moving forward symptom free.
He said that the medical community is considering classifying BV as an STI, as it seems to be the primary mode of transference. Essentially it goes like this; there are only a few strains of flora/bacteria that grow in the vagina. They are easy to test, diagnose and treat when they fall out of balance. There are hundreds of strains of bacteria that live in the mouth, and during oral sex, or oral to vaginal sex, they can be introduced to the warm, dark environment of one's pussy, where they go absolutely haywire. There is no way to test for the bacteria inside of the mouth, because why would you test for something that creates no problem in that orifice? It's only when it's introduced into the vagina that it becomes a problem, and can be tested for, and there are only a couple of bacterial strains that can be the culprits of unusual discharge/odor. From there, they can be transferred to another partner through oral to vaginal contact, and apparently there is suspicion around PIV intercourse reinfecting/transferring it as well. Having BV makes you more susceptible to all manner of STIs as well - the natural flora is interrupted, and allows for other pathogens to invade and conquer without much resistance. It also recurs in a lot of women.
When I told Sync what I had, she shrugged it off and didn't get treated which I found very irresponsible. It was kind of horrifying. I KNEW for a fact that she had brought it into our lives - we had been with her exclusively for months, and nothing had been introduced until she had a sexual connection with another man, and then whammo, there it was in our lives. I felt it was her responsibility to talk to that man and let him know it was possible he was passing BV around to his lovers so he could talk to his physician. She refused. Gross. I got treated, and Elemental was really careful with us - condoms, lots of tongue scraping and mouthwash, and being conscientious about fluid in general. I have been clear for months and months, but then (DAMMIT) started exhibiting symptoms after we trysted with Copper a couple of weeks ago.
So this raises the question - does she have BV? Or is it rogue bacteria in her mouth that have set up camp in my cooter after she gave me (fantastic) face? I talked all about it with her (yay for open communication) and she was super receptive; she has type 1 diabetes and is prone to PH imbalances in general (candida overgrowth, etc) so she booked a doctor's appointment and got swabbed/tested this week, and I'm doing the same today with my home swab kit I was given by my gyno. Once we know where we both stand and get treated if necessary, we can Pussy-Nancy-Drew it up and find out how to avoid this again - whether it's that we need to start using dams, or what, I'm unsure.
So how sexy can dams be? I've never used them, always having partners be tested and relying on those results. But BV slips under the radar, as it doesn't seem to be part of a normal panel, or something that doctors have on their radar as something that needs to be looked for yet. I guess I will ask lovers to get tested for that in the future? Argh! I have always been adamant about getting tested, asking about cold sore history and being so careful, I’m surprised I haven’t introduced gloves/dams into my new sexual life. Am curious what other people do around this….
And so I thought I'd do a post about it - taking the mystery out of it, and talking about it is a way to create awareness and share information. Nothing dirty about it, no shame in it - easily diagnosed and treated, and something to be aware of when you're having more than one sexual partner in your life.
Thoughts? Experiences? Ideas? Curious as to what the collective experience has been with this!