Herpes and an embarrassing problem
Dear Dr Mitchell,
I'm a 30-year-old female and I have had two viable pregnancies, resulting in a healthy boy and girl. I have only been with one sexual partner in eight years. I have no chronic illnesses or diseases. I have been diagnosed with one STD which was not definitive but assumed, because there is no real test to be positive of Herpes, unless you're having an outbreak. When I finally made it in to be tested for it, it was already clearing up so the doctor said it was Herpes. I have had maybe one yeast infection in my life and one abnormal bacterial swab when pregnant with my first child. My problem is that I have a constant vaginal discharge that had always been a problem, even before my sexually active years. I've been told it's normal but it's excessive and embarrassing. It's sometimes so excessive that I have to wear a pantyliner just to keep dry. It's different in texture and colour but ranges from clear and thin, almost like pee to thick and either white or mucous-yellow or green. If this is normal, is there anything I can do to lessen the amount or anything else? My ex (the sexual partner I had for eight years) made fun of me for having this problem, so obviously nobody he had dated before me had this problem.
The problem that you have had with a possible Herpes infection can be confirmed by doing a blood test. It does not matter if the rash or blisters are not present at the time the test is being done. Once you have had a Herpes infection, the test to determine if you have ever had it (Ig6 - HSVII) will always be positive. The good thing about Herpes Simplex Infection (HSVII) is that it will not affect your life in any way. Special precautions have to be taken during pregnancy and delivery and a Caesarean section has to be done if there is an outbreak of the infection at the time of delivery.
The constant vaginal discharge that you experience seems to be definitely due to an infection. The presence of a green vaginal discharge is most likely due to trichomonas vaginalis. This is sexually transmitted and so both you and your partner will need treatment. This is usually associated with a fishy odour and sometimes burning in the vagina. You need to get a thorough examination done which should include a vaginal and cervical swab to also check for Chlamydia. This will help in identifying the exact cause of the infection. A pap smear needs to be done, especially if you have not done one within the past year. This is important to detect early abdominal changes in the cervix that can lead to cervical cancer. It is also important for you to have a blood test done to check for other sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
The infection can be readily treated so you do not need to panic or become too distressed. It is unfortunate that your partner should make fun of you for having this problem, since you would have definitely got the infection from him since he was your only partner for eight years. It is probably a good decision to move on so you do not expose yourself to any other sexually transmitted infections that can be life threatening. You should ask your doctor about the cervical cancer vaccine (CERVARIX). It is important for you to be vaccinated since the human papilloma virus (HPV) is sexually transmitted. Cervical cancer can be prevented by vaccination and regular screening by doing by your pap smear.
Consult your doctor who will advise you further.
Dr Sharmaine Mitchell is an obstetrician and gynaecologist. Send questions via e-mail to allwoman@ jamaicaobserver.com; write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Ave, Kingston 5; or fax to 968-2025. Dr Mitchell cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be relied upon as an alternative to medical advice or treatment from your own doctor or other professional health care provider.