We're bringing you this Q&A from the Sex Files in our Spring 2020 print issue, featuring advice from sexologist Dr. Carol Queen.
I have type 2 diabetes. Even though I’m working hard to control it, I still struggle with terrible recurring vaginal yeast infections—a common side effect. As a result, I haven’t had penetrative vaginal intercourse in eight months. I know there are other ways to have sex, but this is my favorite way, and at this point even masturbation is uncomfortable. Aside from avoiding sugar in my diet, is there anything else you would suggest? –Too Sweet
If you can’t comfortably masturbate with your vaginal condition, it’s definitely a sign that the infection isn’t under control. Because it’s possible for other vaginal conditions to present similarly to yeast infections, I’d want you to make sure you’ve been properly diagnosed (and don’t have some other bug). Mentioning this to your doc will also give your physician a way to evaluate how you’re doing with the diabetes. In the meantime, don’t douche, avoid scented products, make sure your laundry detergent is unscented and hypo-allergenic, wear cotton undies only (or go commando in long flowy skirts, if you can make that style work for you), and keep your bits as dry as possible when you can. Are you on oral contraceptives? Trouble with yeast can be associated with this, and that, too, is worth mentioning to your doc—maybe a different one would work.
You can also look into products crafted with botanical ingredients, like Momotaro, which seek to handle the symptoms of yeast infections and support overall vaginal wellness. These products don’t always go through the kind of testing process prescription drugs do, and for some that’s considered a plus—but remember that any ingredients, including natural ones, can set off sensitivities. If you explore, do so with caution until you determine how your body reacts with this kind of product.
And speaking of sensitivities, your diet (beyond sugar) is worth paying careful attention to. Besides sugary goodies, sweet fruits, glutinous grains, and alcoholic beverages could be culprits. Study up on the yeast-prevention diet and try sticking carefully to it for several weeks.
When you do get back in the saddle, choose a lubricant without glycerine, parabens, and scent or flavoring agents. Good Clean Love is one company that takes vaginal health seriously. Some people with vaginal sensitivity like to use coconut oil or silicone lubricants. Again, keep track of what your body tells you!
BTW, partners with penises can pass yeast, as well as other vaginal infestations, back and forth, so when your bits are ready to engage with another human, watch out for ping-pong issues. Good luck!
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Carol Queen’s latest book (written with Shar Rednour) is The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone. This article originally appeared in the Spring 2020 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
header image by Charles Deluvio via unsplash
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