There was a time -- between 1994 and 1996 -- when I grew yeast in my cunt so often I seriously contemplated baking loaves of bread in there and opening a women's bakery. I was in college, and honestly I had at least 50 separate infections. None of my friends could keep yeast infections away, either.
The "natural" cure was to swath a clove of garlic in cheesecloth and stick it up your yoni. I never did try the garlic method, but I did end up spooning yogurt into my crotch while doing headstands on my bed. It seems that people are never there when you need them, and this was one of those times. I could have used someone to return the tub of yogurt to the fridge. For the record, it didn't work. Years later I read that yeast feeds off the sugar in yogurt, making it worse. And washing the crap out -- well, the yogurt mixes with the cottage-cheese-like discharge, so you just never know when to stop cleaning. It was like I was one never-ending well of lasagna.
When I was in high school, my best friend Roxanne wished yeast infections on our arch enemies. I never understood that because I was a yeast virgin at the time. She also begged her mom to close her legs every time we went by the stinky paper mill. I never understood that either. I was slow.
One thing Roxanne never mentioned was the secret consolation prize of yeast infections: the Caligula effect. See, in the beginning stages of yeast infection, you feel this itch. Your vagina swells up to four times its size and jerking off never, ever felt so good. You masturbate at odd times, like while you pee or when you clean under your toenails. Soon that erotic itch will make you suicidal and you'll want to cut your privates off your body with a bowie knife. It's an itch that makes you understand how people get possessed by Satan. My mother once itched her crotch with a fork while a door-to-door salesman tried to sell her a vacuum cleaner. Once, in a sales meeting, I blacked out from the sheer intensity of the desire to itch. But before the madness starts, yeast rewards you with a boundless sexual arousal.
Tragically, there is also a kind of vaginal sickness that does not compensate you with an engorged clitoris. I first got wind of this sort of infection two years ago when I was kneeling down to the right of my desk to reach for a hanging file folder. I caught a whiff of something that smelled, for all the world, exactly like someone had crapped in a pile of rotting tomatoes. "Christ, what is that fucking smell?" I screeched. People looked at me guiltily. No one said anything.
The next day, the smell was back. It was stronger this time, and could be easily called a stench. I opened the rear door and asked again, "Can anyone tell me where that smell is coming from?" Well, by now you have likely figured out that the smell was being manufactured in my vagina.
At this point, you may be wondering if I'm one of those people who screams "Fish!" every time they sniff any old yawning poontang. Let me assure you: I am not. It is true that I did once slap a man for saying I smelled like fish, but only after I ascertained he had been lying. And I have smelled many sweaty, rank vaginas in my day and thought nothing of it. After spending two months in Eastern Africa without warm water or soap, I had the brilliant idea of sticking my finger in my pussy and then licking it. Yes, the crud lifted from my pussy smelled like garbage on that occasion. But believe me, that smell in Africa could only be called potpourri when compared to the foulness billowing from under my skirt that day in my office.
I didn't think a healthy, bathing human could create odors like that. Well, I was not healthy. I had bacterial vaginosis. My doctor told me that many, many women have bacterial vaginosis -- in fact it's estimated that 60 percent of the female population suffers from it without even knowing. Besides the smell, it has few other effects. As a result, doctors who detect bacterial vaginosis will often just "let it go." Just let it go? As in, not mention it to the poor reeking woman? Well, sometimes it can impair marital relationships, my doctor admitted. I see. I took my medication, cursed the person who gave me the dread disease (you know who you are), and left that corrupt office (St. Luke's Women's Center, if you must know).
About 10 months later I lay, anus forward, on the examining table with yet another "private" disease. "So what exactly is your problem?" the doctor asked. How could I break it to her? It all started when my lover fucked me with two hands and in both holes. Sometime after my second orgasm, I peed and noticed a searing pain near my starfish. Soon afterwards, whenever I did my business, the rip opened again -- it felt as if an army of termites was trying to dismantle my mortal coil, ass first.
On top of everything else, I began to notice an increasingly painful burning feeling in my cooch. It wasn't quite like a yeast infection. I couldn't even masturbate! I had tried several times and failed. The most humiliating failure was when I tried to have phone sex in my mother's bathroom with my 3,000-mile-away lover. The second I got turned on, I had a sensation as though I had purposefully rubbed battery acid deep into every fold of my vulva. "I can't do this, I'm dying," I said as I lowered the phone into the receiver and burst into tears.
I told all this to my personal physician. "I see. Can you show me the rip, please?" I pried apart my cheeks. "Here?" "No, there. Wait, let me try." I tapped around my butthole as if mining for gold. "There -- got it." "What about yeast infections before this? Were you suffering?" she asked. Oh, had I suffered. I had more cream up my cunt than that girl who sits in cakes, what's her name? "Ducky DooLittle," my doctor smiled. "Well, I think you have had yeast in your anus. Possibly there was also yeast growing in your rip. I don't know what was in your pussy, possibly a yeast-related bacteria. I can't imagine the pain you've been in," she intoned plaintively.
OK, so she didn't say she could imagine the pain I've been in, but she did give me a foil packet with one glorious oral yeast tablet. You've never seen such a happy woman. Yeast in my ass! Yeast in my rip! Mystery bacteria in my pussy! Who woulda thunk? The pill I took that day has done wonders. Now, when I reach for a file folder, I am greeted by the mouth-watering scent of a healthy vagina.
Surprisingly, my healthy pussy emanates a fragrance EXACTLY like steaming hot french fries from McDonald's. Days when the smell is particularly strong, it makes me long for a large Dr Pepper with plenty of ice. And it makes my stomach growl, particularly in the mornings. But at least everything else is back to normal. I can't complain.
The ex-editor of On Our Backs magazine, Athena Douris loves horror flicks and always shows off her injuries to anyone willing to look.