When you google vaginal yeast infection, the first definitions you see are ‘a yeast infection of the vagina and tissues at the opening of the vagina’ or ‘this type of yeast infection is caused by the fungus candida.’
These seem like neutral statements, but for many there is so much discomfort and shame that surrounds this topic.
The first time I had a yeast infection...
I just ignored it and dealt with the itch until it went away. I was afraid of talking about it. Then, maybe a year later, it happened again. But this time the itching was way less bearable. I remembered hearing about an at home remedy and tried to solve the issue with vinegar and warm water, which did not help at all.
One day I approached my mom and just said “I have something to say”. I told her about my symptoms, the itching, and the discharge. That’s when she took me to my first gynecological visit; at first it was weird to me that my doctor was a man. I even verbalized it and was reassured things were normal.
That’s what stuck with me. This is normal.
My mom was concerned, why I had not come to her sooner? After admitting the topic made me uncomfortable I was informed this happens to many women, this is not our fault and it definitely isn’t something we should ignore and hide. Going to the doctor and talking over my symptoms, how long I was experiencing them for, and if it was my first time made me sit with my anxiety. I was apprehensive because I thought I would be met with rejection. This was the turning point for my view on women’s health issues.
We should talk about it.
The interactions with both my mom and gynecologist helped me feel accepted. The relief gave me a break from my anxiety and I could step back and reflect on where my shame was coming from. I realized I was the one looking at infections with disgust and scorn – all I needed was the chance to feel affirmed for how I experienced my body. I used this window to spark conversations elsewhere, like candidly asking my friends about their experiences with Candida.
It’s important for us to have conversations about healthy vaginas and happy clitorisis.
I believe through safe and non-judgmental dialogue we can remove the stigma, awkwardness, and discomfort from seeking evidence-based information. Health issues related to the vagina, private parts, or genitalia, are where some womxn feel slow to open up. We shouldn’t have to feel this way about things that are out of our control!
Other than simply being more comfortable talking about what’s going on with OUR body, there are many other benefits to destigmatizing the conversation. We would be more willing to deal with the situation as soon as possible, saving us a lot of unnecessary pain. We can avoid the potential of adding to the discomfort by leaving the situation untreated, which can cause the infection to spread giving rise to inflammation, more itching and overall, more discomfort.
So I will talk about it. Feel good about being in your own body and have healthy, consensual conversations about it. Having an open conversation can spark a turning point for others around you.
About the author:
Kaila Flemming is a rising junior at St. John's University in New York and one of our Kiira Interns. She came to Kiira Health with a passion for writing and interest in learning about women’s health issues. Her experiences in the Black community helped orient her attention towards the health disparities that make it difficult to trust the medical community for the people around her. Kaila aspires to use her position at Kiira to bridge that gap so people feel more inclined to get the help they need. Ensuring people just like her know they are not alone in the challenges they face is integral to her work. Outside of Kiira, Kaila enjoys the arts, music, and dance. Learning about nutrition and cooking helped her weave these interests into a creative food blog.
If you are a student interested in writing about your health experiences, be sure to reach out to us using the submission form on our website!
Edited by Reem Abdalla