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Vaginas & Vulvas, My Body

Chronic BV and thrush: Nadine’s story

Nadine* talks about how chronic bacterial vaginosis (BV) and thrush have impacted her life and what she’s learnt along the way.

There is nothing more soul-destroying when you feel like your body is failing you.

Whether it be chronic pain, hair loss or acne, our bodies sometimes do things that make us feel powerless. These things may make you feel ugly and frustrated, they may make you feel that keeping hopeful or optimistic is completely futile.

Equally, accepting that that’s just the way things are adds another layer of sadness – why can’t my body do all the things I need it to do? Why didn’t that medication work? Why can’t that doctor explain it? What is the cause, and where is the solution? This was the case for me and chronic bacterial vaginosis and thrush infections.

I have been on waiting lists and used all my savings on private health care and specialists throughout London.

I have spent so many nights awake on my laptop, going through medical journals I don’t understand to find the answers – to find a cure.

I have been influenced by Reddit posts that told me to stop eating and found websites that told me everything will be fixed if I just try their pro-biotic subscription which costs me more money than I have. Still, when you are desperate, companies capitalise on your agonising pursuit to ‘get better’.

Embarrassed to have sex, only wearing baggy clothes and breaking up with my boyfriend, I spent months hungry, isolated and terrified that if I do the wrong things, I will have these chronic infections forever.  

I am writing this post because a few months ago I went on holiday and I was surrounded by people and activities that I actually loved to do. I decided that for this week, I was going to eat whatever I wanted because if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to take part in anything or be present for the people I loved. Even if I went back into my restrictive routine after a break, I would have this week to just feel normal.  

However, to my surprise, no food I ate or things I did made my infection worse. I had baths, laughed with my family and was able to take part. I was honest with the people who loved me about what was happening and how I felt.

For the first time in a long time I felt better.

Suddenly, I realised the thing that brought me to my knees wasn’t my condition, rather it was all the things I was doing to get control back.  

What I know now is that amongst the uncontrollable, there are things I can control. I can control how I enjoy myself, how I connect with other people and how I choose to show myself love.

Sometimes the most loving thing to do is to treat yourself like you are someone deserving of being cared for.  

I’m still living with my infection. If it ever goes away, I will write a book. But for now, I will take every day as it comes, choose joy, and remember what I forgot – that I am more than the failing parts of my body.

I am passionate, kind and excited about what will happen next. I know I will have bad days, but I also know that for every bad day will be a day that is good. 

I will love my body no matter what I once told myself.  I will manage my infections rather than cure them. It is now that I find myself unstuck. A journey with my body that is led by love is also a journey where I will keep moving forward. 

*Author’s name has been changed

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    Thrush (candidiasis)

    Not an STI but sex can trigger it.


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