image by Sharese Suriel
As I lay in bed one night, I heard my partner chatting with his friends. One of them was talking about a girl he had slept with who had a “stink pussy in the morning”. They all proceeded to laugh their arses off, and I joined in too, but for a different reason entirely. I’ve been that girl. The one with the “stink pussy in the morning”. Perplexed laughter soon turned into anger. I wanted to jump up, kill the vibe, defend the girl, and shout “BEEEEEE VEEEEEEE” – BV, or Bacterial Vaginosis, in full. “She probably got BV from letting your skateboarding-ass finger her,” I raged.
The truth is, most of us with vaginas have been there. When our pussies seemed good enough to eat the night before, but after a few hours sleep, with the slightest move of the duvet, would emit a waft similar to hot kippers fresh out the microwave. Eau de life, bredren.
BV is not an STD, but contains many of the characteristics of one, and can be stimulated by new or multiple sexual partners, smoking and scented soap, to name a few. Essentially, it’s a disruption of the PH balance of the vaginas delicate eco system, and can be brought on by a number of things. If BV has ever been a repeat offender in your life, you know how much it can really piss on your chips, side eye your sex life, or kill your confidence. More common than a yeast infection, BV is on the rise and reported more amongst women of colour. Black women, for instance, are more likely to have Vitamin D deficiencies due to the melanin in our skin, which is linked to BV, and black and Hispanic women’s vaginas are dominated by a different type of bacteria than other ethnic groups which, again, might make them more prone.
“While I don’t want to get all CSI here, something definitely smells fishy”
Added to this, despite all of the “feminine hygiene” products available at chemists or big supermarkets, most of which promise to make your nether regions smell like a fairy farting after eating a bag of skittles, it would seem that a number of them may be causing more harm than good for some of us. In essence, we get sore while the market for these products is soaring. And while I don’t want to get all CSI here, something definitely smells fishy.
BV is becoming increasingly hard to treat and no one seems to know why. Like Brexit of the minge, it’s happening regardless of the fact that we don’t like it. If you’ve had BV, you’re probably familiar with embarking on late night, fruitless, online research sessions after discovering that the strange odour you smelled earlier, was you.
But there is some light. If you search for “Bacterial Vaginosis” on YouTube, you’ll find a number of WoC vlogging about everything from their BV journeys, to clearing it up for good. Most take a herbal approach in conjunction with metronidazole (antibiotics used to treat BV) or a pessary (a device used to treat the vagina, uterus bladder or rectum). But before you go running to your local supermarket for any recommendations you’ve seen online, make sure you speak to a GP first. It’s just as important that you know what it is you are trying to treat before you attempt to treat it, no matter which approach you’re drawn to.
“Like Brexit of the minge, it’s happening regardless of the fact that we don’t like it”
If you have a vagina the chances are that something at some point has not felt right down there. And that’s ok. Our vaginas are not there just to give us pleasure, they have a fuck tonne of other stuff to do as well. Like machines, in a way, these joy, life and pain-bringing vessels need fine-tuning sometimes. And while those with vaginas are conditioned to take sole responsibility if anything goes wrong down there, there is no reason that we should be burdened with the stressful and exhausting experience of dealing with any issues that arise, alone. Despite the tendency for people to assume the solution lies in washing more, BV is not a hygiene issue. It is a sign you need to get to your GP or local clinic fast.
Personally, getting BV was a time to reflect on my drinking habits. Like with most antibiotics, the orally-taken kind for vaginal health also require a break from drinking for at least seven days. But as a woman in my mid 30s with no kids at the time, it almost felt like my duty to sink a bottle of wine a night. So there I was, faced with choosing between drinking and having a sweet-smelling minge. It took me a little longer to do than I like to admit, but I got there in the end.
While BV sucks, one of the most important things to remember, aside from taking the appropriate steps to treat it, is that you are not alone. Most of us have been there. God damn it, I’ve been there three times. Which, now that I think about it, is exactly what I should have told my partner’s friends.