I’ve recently visited my GP seeking a diagnosis of Lichens Sclerosus (LS)
For just over a year now, I’ve had the worst itching downstairs. Alongside this itching, my skin has become swollen, sore and delicate like a butterfly wing. Sex with my partner has turned into some sort of military operation as my skin tears so easily, and burns for a whole day afterwards, I’ve had to make sure I don’t have to go to work as I can barely walk.
I can no longer wear the sexy, lacy thong underwear I’ve adorned myself in for the past 20 years as the material rips my skin to shreds. A task as simple as washing, now needs careful planning and precision as scented/perfumed washes and gels irritate the skin.
I’ve spent the first 6 months treating myself for thrush as I was sure that’s what I was suffering with. It wasn’t until I noticed that patches of my skin had turned white/silver and shiny and peeled off to reveal wrinkled/creased red raw skin that I knew it was more than just thrush. The opening to my vagina has also narrowed… I find it extremely painful to use a mooncup and recently, sex has become very uncomfortable.
It hasn’t just affected my vulva either, it’s also spread to my anus. Going to the toilet is very painful. One single wipe with toilet paper can tear my skin and leave me with fissures. The skin heals in 24-36 hours which just makes me dread going to the toilet in case I make it worse.
From the research I’ve done and what I know, the symptoms are:
- Intense itching (often worse at night)
- Discomfort and tenderness
- White, shiny spots
- Burning sensation
- Wrinkling /Creased skin
- Lesions / fissures
- Painful sex
- Fusing and shrinkage of the vulva.
LS can affect any part of your body, but in females the genitals are more common. There’s not currently a cure, but symptoms can be managed with creams. It’s a rare disease and currently being misdiagnosed as thrush.
My GP couldn’t see the white patches, so I’ve been given an emollient to wash with to help with the dryness. If that proves unsuccessful, she’ll be referring me to a vulva specialist! I’m so glad she took me seriously and didn’t fob me off with ‘maybe it’s thrush’. I had no idea my genitals could turn against me like this, so I’m so glad that my concerns are being listened to. I just hope I’m not too late!
All this has made me realise how your physical and mental health is so important to your overall well-being. Don’t bottle your worries and concerns. Do your research, go to the doctor and get yourself heard!