At the young age of 31 years old, I NEVER, thought I would hear someone tell me I have the vagina of an 80 year old woman. I went in to see my OB for breast pain, and came out with way more than I could have imagined.
By now, I’m sure you’re wondering how breast pain, and an “old vagina” could be related. The breast pain, and my symptoms down below, aren’t necessarily related but my breasts are definitely the issue for my immediate aging.
For those who don’t know, I recently gave birth to my third child, just three months ago. I am breastfeeding, and it has been going amazingly. I mean this is my third time around, I feel like I know a thing or two. But as you always hear, each pregnancy, each birth, every situation is different. Boy is that ever true today. Ben, my son, had been nursing wonderfully. It wasn’t until recently, I started to feel pain in my nipple. It wasn’t unbearable, just a pain here and there. Clearly the latch was not right, so I would adjust Ben, and all would be well…I thought. But I then began to feel pain in my breast. A burning pain deep in my breast. From the outside, nothing looked wrong. I had no redness, rash or fever, which would indicate mastitis. So I just kept nursing. As you can imagine, the pain did not go away. I finally called my OB office, and was able to get in to see a nurse practitioner, an hour after calling. THANK GOD!
At the OB office
As the nurse walked me back to the room, and sat me down I started to tell her what I was experiencing. I also took this time to explain other pains I was experiencing… down below. By this time I was 10 maybe 11 weeks postpartum, so I SHOULD, be fully healed. Or at least from what I have experienced in the past. But I was still experiencing burning, and redness down below. I have never had problems with my vagina before, NEVER. So I didn’t know what to expect. Since I was so far out from delivery, I didn’t think I was still healing. It must be an infection, I thought.
The nurse told me to undress, handed me a pink paper gown, that was worn like a vest, so the doctor could examine my breasts. She then gave me a white paper gown, to drape over my lap. While I was sitting there, practically naked, I was suddenly very thankful I left my kiddos with my sister.
Laying on the table, the doctor examined my breasts. She noticed my right nipple did have a crack in it but there were no obvious signs that anything else was wrong. She suggested I use Newman’s nipple cream. It is a compounded cream, that could heal a little of everything. It would heal my cracked nipple, numb it a little and treat it for yeast, if there was any in there.
She then examined underneath my white gown. Glancing at my vagina, she stated everything looked normal, nothing out of the ordinary. Then I screamed, well, maybe not screamed but yes, I yelled out, “aaaaahhh, what was that?”
She replied very softly, and sympathetically, “a Q-tip….”
It felt like she was dragging her nails along my folds. I began to shake because of the pain. She said I really need to get it inside to get a good sample. I said okay, bit my lip, and she continued to get her sample. It honestly felt like she was taking a Brillo pad to my sensitive areas. Luckily it only took a few seconds and she was out the door to examine the Q-tip under a microscope.
“You have a ton of Atrophic cells, which is consistent with breastfeeding and you have no good bacteria down there. We don’t see any signs of an infection but we will run another test for that. When you breastfeed, you have a drop in estrogen. This can cause thinning, drying, burning and inflammation of the vaginal walls. You basically have the vagina of an 80 year old woman.“
I started to laugh, while wiping away tears. I knew I wasn’t crazy. Something was going on down there, and it was all because of BREASTFEEDING! I’m sure some of it is also because of my age. Healing gets tougher as we age but I’m only 31 for crying out loud.
If you look up Atrophic cells, almost every single article that comes up, is about post menopause women. You NEVER, hear anyone talk about being a dried up old Betty while nursing. I’m not saying I’m special, or some rare case, I just don’t think women like to openly talk about their vagina.
Long story short…
she prescribed me a nipple cream, an estrogen cream for down below and told me to grab a probiotic. Wonderful, I was hopeful I was going to be back to normal in no time. Unfortunately, days went by and I still did not have my nipple cream. Three days later to be exact, I woke up, started nursing Ben and began crying in pain. I can’t even remember the last time I cried because of pain. Hours later, I notice red streaking going up my breast. I had developed mastitis. Ugh!!!!! After several phone calls I was finally able to get my nipple cream and an antibiotic for the mastitis.
Why, you ask, am I talking about my vagina to the entire world? Well, just as I mentioned before, I don’t think women like to share such personal details. Which is completely fine, and encouraged in most cases. But I know for me, when I was going through all of this, I of course, tried to turn to Google. I couldn’t find a single article, explaining another possibility of what could be going on. I know, Google is not always the best thing to turn to but when it’s about something so private, you don’t always want to say it out loud. You also, don’t really hear women talk about the negative side of nursing. This is not discouraging me from nursing but now, I at least know what’s going on, and I do not have an infection.
So there you have it, if you are experiencing painful intercourse, redness and burning down below, and you are nursing, this could, be the reason for your discomfort.
**(I am not a doctor and am not diagnosing your condition. I am just sharing my experience. Please always consult with your doctor)
If you are going through the same thing or have gone through it, I would love to chat! Please reach out, you can find me at the nursing home. haha