Ya’ll, I’ve been asking myself this for a long time. Not why do I get repeat infections, but why do my patients get repeat vulvovaginal infections. The only theory I had was that the immune system was lowered, which, with chronic pain it technically is, but that’s all I had. I couldn’t elaborate further. But, guess what! Now I can! Yes, I can!
According to the book, When Sex Hurts, repeat infections are indeed a result of an issue with the immune system – in some cases. When this system isn’t working properly, your body basically has an auto-immune disorder. Not one that technically requires a name or a separate diagnosis like rheumatoid arthritis, but in the situation with repeat vulvovaginal infections, your immune system is going after your own cellular make-up.
Another reason you can get repeat infections is that your immune system can go into overdrive trying to eliminate foreign substances that aren’t actually harmful. This is why you can be fine using one sort of laundry detergent, then all of a sudden you have to use all the soaps, detergents and what nots for “sensitive” skin. Steroids are typically prescribed because they chill out the inflammatory response that results when your immune cells attack. Along these lines, but not exactly along these lines, but kinda close to these lines is this piece I wrote for Pelvic Guru. If you haven’t checked Pelvic Guru out, you don’t know as much as you could know about your pelvis. It’s true.
I also learned, from this year’s International Society for the Study of Woman’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH) that tissue that does not have adequate estrogen and/or testosterone – tissue that is atrophied and fragile – this tissue is more susceptible to infections. Little tears in the tissue will allow bacteria into the body and this creates an infection. If the tissue was plump and healthy and without hormonal deficiencies, it is way less likely to get a microtear in the first place.
Lastly, remember, not all symptoms of infections are from infections. Your body can mimic symptoms of infections over and over as a result of connective tissue overactivity, trigger points and overactive pelvic floor muscles. I haven’t mentioned this in almost a year – but we must never forget it! Much like the Alamo – “Remember the overactive pelvic floor muscles!”. Stretching, physical therapy and diaphragmatic breathing can all help with this.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them anonymously in the comment section below or email me at [email protected]