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Vaginal infection 1+ year. won't go away, all tests normal?

For the past year I've been dealing with some kind of (vaginal) infection. Back in January of '09 I had a UTI for the first time, went to the dr, was put on Cipro. After a week or two the UTI went away, but then I developed this constant discharge, that is white and kind of pasty, has a sour smell, and I have occasional pelvic/back pain and pain with insertion. I was told BV and/or yeast but the cultures do not grow anything out. No yeast, no fungi, no bacteria, no aerobic or anaerobic bacteria. I just have 'lots' of white blood cells and a few 'clue cells' every now and again. I've been on constant medications, about 15-18 different kinds, including a 2 month round of steroids (they thought it was auto-immune, but those only made it worse). Had 2 cyrosurgeries because I was also told it was 'cervicitis' and the procedures would help--they didn't. I am negative for all STDs and had a normal papsmear. Had a vaginal ultrasound done and my ovaries were fine, I just had inflammation internally. The doctor I've been to most recently said that my vaginal tissues look very healthy and he is perplexed that every test is coming back normal; he started to think maybe the discharge was coming from my endocervix, so I'm on more meds that I have been on before, but the culture is still not growing anything out.

I've seen a ton of doctors and everything some how always comes back normal. However, this is NOT normal. Maybe it is a coincidence that it started after the UTI a year ago, but it is driving me crazy! I have not had sex at all since this started. It has put quite a strain on my relationship and has made me incredibly depressed. I am only 21 and as far as I know, I am very healthy, aside from this. I've never had any problems before and I just don't know what to do. This problem makes me feel disgusting and I'm just scared that no one can even diagnose me with anything. Please help!

31 Responses
603463 tn?1220630455
Your story is (unfortunately) common.  That does not mean that it is easy to cure though!
If you were my patient, I would recommend stopping ALL medications at this point.
I would probably have you return after a week OFF all meds and then re-do the cultures and wet mount.  ( I doubt that they will show anything different though ).
One culture you may want to consider if you haven't already done so, is Mycoplasma/ureaplasma.
What I think the problem boils down to though is that when you took the Cipro, it devastated the normal "good" vaginal bacteria, and they haven't had a chance to recover yet. So, unless I found something new on the lab results, I would probably start treating you with VSL#3 or other probiotic of your choice that contain high
numbers of lactobacilli.  For any external irritation, I would  recommend using only vegetable shortening ( such as crisco ) with no color or scent or additive.
You could even consider inserting the probiotics vaginally.

It may be that you have an infection that we can't diagnose.  In this case, boosting your body's normal defenses--the good bacteria--will help you fight it

There are some other things to try too, so if no success--write in again!
Good luck!
Dr B
Avatar universal
I should also add that I have been to an allergist and according to him, I have no allergies what so ever, so I'm not having a reaction to something (however I do have Celiac Disease, though it's probably irrelevant to this). I've had my ige levels checked and had my sed levels checked. All normal. I only use hypoallergenic soaps and detergents.

The UTI that may or may not have started this all was very severe. Could I be having some kind of kidney or uterus issue going on rather than it being vaginal? I don't really understand what is or what can cause vaginal discharge in the first place.

Avatar universal
Did they do a biopsy?
Avatar universal
Avatar universal
No, I have not had a biopsy done yet. My doctor said he's considering doing that the next time I go in, but my appointment is not until the very end of April. He doesn't think it'd help with a diagnosis though and doesn't want to put me through the pain if he doesn't have to. I want to try some natural remedies on my own though so I'm not going to bother moving the appointment sooner.

I've been taking probiotics specifically for vaginal flora health, as the doctor here and some others dealing with similar issues on other message boards have suggested. Hopefully it'll work, but I won't be able to tell for another week or so. What this doctor is saying here is exactly what I have thought all along, and by far it makes the most sense, so at least I find some comfort in that.
Avatar universal
I have had Bv every month for the last 8 mths and alls my gyne does is put me on the antibiotics and tells my that it is very common for women to get this and there is nothing else to do. It is very frustrating is there any doctors out there that actually care about there patients. I am not taking any more antibiotics because they work until I am done taking them and then comes right back, what else can I do to help this issue I have read about probiotics and asked my doc if that would help and she said no its juct a ph imbalance in your body?
Avatar universal
For months I had a burning, white discharge after taking flagyl and anti-yeast meds for what I know believe to have been vaginal atrophy due to breastfeeding.  My gynos didn't even offer the vaginal atrophy as an explanation even though I asked about it, but after reading up on it, I'm sure that's what I had.  I was no longer nursing, but the white discharge and pain and itching were seriously affecting my mental health.  All STD tests were neg, as were yeast and BV tests.  Finallly my 3rd gyno wrote out a prescription for SolcoTrichovac, a vaccine that helps agains Trichomoniasis (which I didn't have) and other, "nonspecific bacterial infections".  The gyno wasn't too enthusiastic about the vaccine, but she had nothing else to offer, and she said she had patients who swear by it.  After the 2nd of 3 injections, each 2 weeks apart, the white discharge and burning is gone!  I had been using boric acid suppositories for months as the only short-term cure that worked.  I tried everything, orally and vaginally -- probiotics, garlic, propolis, hydrogen peroxide, only the boric acid worked for 12 - 24 hours, and now of course, the vaccine.  Don't know if it's available outside of Europe.
Avatar universal
Hmm. I've never heard of that, but it's worth checking in to even if it isn't available where I am, thank you. How long have you been symptom free since the vaccine? Or do you just have to keep getting it if it reoccurs? I haven't tried boric acid yet, but I've been reading about it and most say it helps with yeast but not bacteria. I just keep posting this on every medical forum I can find and try to find people with similar stories so I can have new things to discuss with my doctors. So frustrating, but at least I am not alone. Very taxing thing to go through, both physically and emotionally, that's for sure.

Unfortunately for me, the probiotics have not been helping either. Doesn't help that I just got over my menstrual cycle I'm sure..still trying to hold onto some hope that it'll get figured out soon...by someone.

Also @ Mama2forya, I feel your pain. I've been to about 6 doctors for this problem over the last 13 months. I kept switching because I was noticing that the first 2 I saw never did any tests. They just kept writing prescription after prescription after prescription. I wish I would have spoke up and said "enough" because constantly being on meds isn't good for your body, especially when they aren't helping.

I am in the same boat as you are. I refuse to take any more antibiotics until we can get a clear idea as to what EXACTLY is going on. It's frustrating to get a doctor to actually listen and admit that they were WRONG about a previous diagnosis. Hang in there, we will both find someone who will help us get rid of this!!!
Avatar universal
As everyone else who has a comment on this site, I have tried everything, Dr's/prescriptions and antibotics, nothing worked.  Now, I am on Premerin, also using ALBOLENE to clean the whole area inc. dn my thighs.  Also, clean with this moisturizing cleanser after URINATING.  At least I am not BURNING as before, TIME WILL BE THE ANSWER....if all this works all of you will be notified.
Avatar universal
I have had a discharge for about 2 months that has a sour smell and definitely smells more after sex.  The difference is that mine is not white, its greenish yellowish and is very thick.  I went to the doctor because I thought I had BV or some kind of infection, but when I went she said everything looked normal and that she would send out a culture and order some tests.  The culture test came back normal and so did the tests (trich, chlamydia, gonorrhea). I also had my pap about a month and a half ago and it came back normal. The doctor told me the same thing (mandapanda527) about the 'lots' of white blood cells, which means 'i am fighting off some kind of infection'. I feel every person that has posted's pain.  It's very frustrating going to a specialist, such as a gynecologist, and having them not know what is going on with you. I have another appointment with a different doctor next week and hopefully something will come out of this, but unfortunately I have little hope. I don't think anyone has asked this, but does anyone get a smell or a raw irritated feeling after having intercourse after you noticed this discharge or are you all avoiding it?
Avatar universal
I've avoided sex completely since this started almost 14 months ago now. I can barely insert the applicators when I'm put on medication or tolerate the speculum during an exam. It's put a tremendous strain on my relationship, especially since I live with my bf, but I know if I try it's going to hurt like hell and I rather not ruin that experience for myself. Not to mention, I feel too disgusting with this discharge.

I recently noticed that sometimes when I urinate there are pieces of like skin tissue looking stuff. I emailed my gyno about this and he said to come into the office to give a urine sample. I did. He said everything looked fine, except there were traces of blood in it. This is the second time I've given a urine sample that has come back with 'traces' of blood, 2 different appointments at 2 different doctor's offices. Neither said anything about it, aside from it was there.

Shouldn't this raise some kind of red flag?

This is so frustrating. What the heck is going on with my body?!
Avatar universal
I know my situation isn't the exact same or as severe as yours, but believe me I feel your pain. Last year I went through some gynecological issues for months and months so I know what its like to deal with doctors who can't tell you whats the matter and kind of blow you off.  Its really saddening, angering and scary all at the same time.  I'm your age and so I think its even more frustrating because you feel like 'im young i shouldnt be having weird health or issues like this'. keep a positive attitude and hopefully things will get better... I think the stress of this is probably reeking hell on your body and immune system as well.  I wonder if all of the medication has damaged the skin and now its causing horrible irritation or have you always had the irritation? O yea and I just want to say YOU ARE NOT DISGUSTING, having these issues does not mean anything about you, do not let this consume you, its good to remember that eventually it will go away and things will get better.
Avatar universal
Thank you for the encouraging words. As much as I try to maintain a positive attitude and tell myself it'll get figure out soon, it's just so hard. I try to keep myself distracted by doing a bunch of things, but find that I cry myself to sleep about 5/7 days. My immune system has been pretty good until a few days ago. Came down with a really bad cold and man, oh man, has my discharge and irritation been bad. Probably the worst it has ever been. There goes any progress I may have been making...

I wish the doctors could just take this one out and give me a new one or spray my innards down with disinfectant! Lol

As sad and frustrating as it is, I really appreciates others, like you, that also turn to message boards to seek answers, comfort and give advice. I don't have anyone besides the bf in real life to lean on (and men just don't understand) so it is nice to at least be able to turn to folks on the internet in similar situations. I mean, between all of us with this sort of problem, SOMETHING has to be figured out, right?

Many, many years ago my aunt had endometriosis but the time she had it, the term and diagnosis did not exist. She suffered for years and finally, a good 5 or so years later, they found out about endometriosis and sure enough, that was her problem. I hope it doesn't take that long to figure out what this is, but I'll still hold onto that hope.
Avatar universal
So...in order to write in again to ask follow up questions, this site makes you pay for it. That's nice.
Avatar universal
sweet! (in reference to you must pay for an online message board)

So I had my other doctors appointment and the doctor basically told me that I have normal cervical discharge, that she sees that its thick and yellowish, but that it seems normal and that its probably just a mixture of my body and my birth control?  I dont see how that it can be normal to have way thicker discharge only for the past couple months that smells after sex when Ive been taking the same birth control for three years? annoying! She was really nice about it and could see how annoying it was, but when I asked her more questions all she could give me was, "well we cant explain everything." I told her that the other person I saw told me there were a lot of white blood cells (which means Im fighting off some sort of infection) and she told me some people have inflammation (which I wouldnt be surprised since Im very sensitive down there) and that she didnt see that many white blood cells under the microscope.  So I guess I will just have to except that this is going to be here for now and hope that it eventually goes away? LAME
Avatar universal
I'm am glad I found this post. My situation is very similiar, and I am desperate for answers. About 7 months ago I had sex with someone. Within a few days I started feeling burning, irritation, and pain. Shortly after that I noticed an increase in a thick, white discharge. I tried taking a medicine similiar to Diflucan, and it helped me initially, so I thought I simply had a yeast infection. However, the issues came back. I went to one gynocologist who did not run any tests, but she said she was going to treat me for all of the possibilities. She gave me an antibiotic (for std's) and a vaginal suppository for BV. I did not improve. She then gave me a med similiar to Diflucan for yeast. Again, I improved, but the problem did not totally go away. After about 3 Diflucan pills, I decided to go to another gyno. This gyno ran tests, and the results showed that I had an e.coli infection in my vagina. I took Cipro with no improvement. Next, an injection similiar to cipro with no improvement. Then, we removed my IUD and tried one more round of antibiotics. Still no improvement so I went to another doctor who ran tests for just about everything possible. The only thing she found was some yeast. She treated me for two weeks for yeast, and again I improved, but not completely. She referred me to another gyno. He did a culture, and he can't find anything wrong!!!!!!!  At this point I started getting reallllly depressed. No one can figure out what is wrong with me, and if I test negative for everything no one knows how to treat me. Right now the doctor is having me use a steroid cream. I can't tell that it is helping much. I am also going to an acupuncturist to boost my immune system. I have also tried boric acid, tea tree oil, garlic, probiotics, etc... etc... I feel like I am running out of options, and I am getting very scared. Recently, I tried having sex for the first time in about 7 months. Sex was not painful, but afterwards I felt much worse. Also, I feel guilty for having sex. I did use a condom, but since I don't know what is wrong with me, I don't know if it can be passed along????  Even though I have tested negative for std's, I think this all began when I had sex with someone. UG!  Well, I definitely feel for everyone posting on here. Please keep me updated about your situation, and I will do the same.
Avatar universal
still having success with the SolcoTrichovac?
Avatar universal
The SolcoTrichovac has really helped, I believe!  It's been a little over a month since I started, and 5 days ago I had the last of three injections.  The sour discharge and burning/irritation waned a couple of days after the second injection.  Occasionally I get a bit of an itch down there, but it goes away.  I haven't had to use boric acid for two weeks now, which is amazing, since some days I had to insert it twice a day because the discharge and pain was so bad.  The insert in the box says that a follow up injection can be had 6 months to a year after the initial 3, as a booster.  My gyno says that some of her patients can literally feel (get itchy, pain) when it's time to get another booster, usually about after a year, and they do so every year, which is supposedly safe.  I don't know, the whole thing could be psychological, too, but I kinda doubt it.  After months I am no longer constantly thinking about my crotch and wondering what the hell is wrong with me!
Avatar universal
Where do you live? I am hoping I can get these shots in the USA. If not, I have a friend in Switzerland that might be able to help me out. Did you need a prescription?  From what I read online it seems that Solco Trichovac is an injection of probiotics. Is that right? In what part of the body do you get the shot?  Do you know if the Gynatren vaccine is the same thing?

Well, thanks for your info! I love the last sentence of your post. I hope I can be saying that soon! Also, please keep me updated as to how you are doing. Thanks!
Avatar universal
Have any of you had a culture done for Mycoplasma/ureaplasma? The Dr. here suggested it and it sounds like a possibility after reading about it a bit. I spoke with my Dr. about it and he said it's more so tied to things like PID, not chronic issues, but that he'll consider doing a culture anyway.

At this point, I rather do all the non-invasive tests I can. He also talked about putting me on flagyl for about 6 months. Yeah, that's just what I want. I've been on flagyl 4-5 times previously. It helps a little, but everything seems to help a little so maybe it's more of a psychological thing, but it also makes me VERY sick and I was on the max dosage for about a month. Not to mention, it's a carcinogen. At this point since I've already been on it so much, I don't feel like the benefits out weigh the risks. If this infection ever goes away i don't want to end up having cancer... ugh.
Avatar universal
Well, let me know if you decide to try the flagyl again. Do your doctors even know for sure if you have BV? Well, I have had a pretty horrible week . My pain was getting worse and worse. I thought it was just my "other" problems, but turns out I had a UTI on top of everything else. Now I'm taking antibiotics for that, and I'm afraid that will further mess up the balance. I go to my gynocologist tomorrow. I am going in prepared with a long list of desperate questions. I'm trying to stay positive, but the longer this goes on the harder it is to stay positive. Please keep me updated and I will do the same. Take Care!
Avatar universal
Hey! I was curious if you asked your doctor about SolcoTrichovac vaccine that ligamara mentioned. I asked my doctor about it. He just said that he had never heard of it and he didn't seem interested in researching it. I think I'm going to push the issue with him though. Also, I was going to tell you that of the natural remedies I have tried GYNATREN (not the vaccine) worked the best for me. You can buy it at most health food stores in the probiotic section. You take one probiotic orally and another probiotoc/boric acid capsule vaginally. It didn't totally clear up my problems, but it helped a lot. I am considering trying it again (maybe for a month straight). Well, keep me updated. I really want to know what works for you, and I will keep you updated on my situation as well.
Avatar universal
My appointment is actually on the 25th of this month. I will mention it but I am pushing the ureaplasma/mycoplasma test more than anything. My doctor said he would research it some more. I am also going to talk with him about seeing an infectious disease doctor, as they may be more aware of various infectious agents that could be causing this that are more uncommon. I will let you know how it goes! Hopefully I will finally find an answer soon.
Avatar universal
I spoke with a doctor that thinks I have vulvodynia. Have any of you heard of that or considered that as a possibility? The thought terrifies me because there is no definitive cure. There are things that can control the symptoms, but doctors don't know what causes it or exactly how to cure it. I'm trying to stay positive, but thinking that this might be chronic is really depressing me.
Avatar universal
I have heard of vulvodynia, but from my understanding that's more of a chronic pain issue and wouldn't explain anything like discharge. The specialist I see actually runs a vulvar disorder clinic and that was the first thing he thought before he saw me. Once he did see me, he immediately ruled that out. Apparently when gynos have no clue what is going on, they send people to this vulvar disorder clinic...they  get all the "wtf" cases >.<

Anywho, I'll be posting here tomorrow after I have my appointment. I have a list of bacteria, yeast, and fungi to ask this doctor about and I will insist he start doing more tests. Hopefully we figure something out and I can relay it along.
Avatar universal
Hi again ladies,

I saw my specialist again today. Unfortunately, I didn't really get to discuss with him bacteria/yeasts that can cause this sort of thing that require special tests. He basically told me that I have SOME kind of bacterial growth and regardless as to what it might be, he feels that long term suppression with Metrogel (flagyl in cream form) is the best thing for me to try. I've been on flagyl about 6 times previously, so you can imagine I wasn't thrilled with that.

My Dr. is also sending me to a general doc/holistic remedy sort of doctor to get a full metabolic panel run and to check some other things. He said he really doesn't know what to do for me, and that checking to make sure I don't have some kind of underlying medical condition or deficiency in an area, would be a good idea. As far as I'm aware, as I've said over and over, I am a very healthy individual. I am 21, only 104 pounds, I exercise regularly, I eat well. I've never, ever had any problems aside from the fact that I have a gluten intolerance (celiac disease) which is unrelated to this vaginal thing. I've always had a very good immune system so I don't understand why I can't shake this mystery bacteria.

Anyway, I wish I had more news to share or test results or something, but I do not. Maybe 6 months of Flagyl will finally do something for me or maybe this other doctor will be able to determine whats going on in my body *fingers crossed*
Avatar universal
Didn't you test negative for bacteria?  Well, I got some more test results today. Supposedly this new swab they did on me would show anything and everything. Well, it showed nothing! no bacteria, no yeast, nothing.... My gyno has no other treatment options for me. He wants to refer me to a physical therapist who does therapy for vulvodynia. Maybe I do have vulvodynia (which I'm not happy about), but vulvodynia doesn't explain why I still have abnormal discharge.

Have you gone to the holistic doctor yet? How did that go?

Tomorrow I'm going to an Asian doctor to try some herbal teas.

I will keep you updated. Hopefully, we can both find something that will help us!
Avatar universal
Yes, I have tested negative for everything under the sun, but my Dr. is still convinced it's a bacterial problem for whatever reason. I haven't seen the holistic doc yet to have blood work and stuff done. I need to call on Monday and make an appointment but I assume it'll take a few weeks, if not months for me to get in.

To make matters worse, I think the Metrogel I've been on has given me a yeast infection. I'm not sure because I've never had one and I thought you could only get yeast infections from the oral types of medications and not the gel but idk. I only used it for 5 days and I've been off of it for about a week. I just have this cottage cheese, clumpy discharge that scared the heck out of me. It burns like hell. Not sure what to do about it since if it isn't yeast, I don't know how to treat for it. Plus I'm still on the the metrogel once a week for 6 more months so I don't want to use some yeast medication in the form of a gel either. I was eating a bunch of plain, unflavored yogurt (which is disgusting btw) to prevent a yeast infection when I was on the metrogel, but I guess it failed?

Have you or anyone else reading experienced a yeast infection before alone, or in conjunction with BV? Do they always itch? Mine doesn't itch, I just have the clumpy discharge and major burning down there.

Good luck with the herbal teas. We have to find something that'll help us sooner or later.
Avatar universal
The discharge you describe sounds like a yeast infection. Has your doctor tested you for yeast since those symptoms started?  It is possible for antibiotics or BV meds to cause a yeast infection. Those meds not only kill the bad bacteria, but it also kills the good bacteria that we need to keep things in balance down there. You might try taking a probiotic. There are even probiotics specifically for women that have higher concentrations of what we need for vaginal health. I buy mine at the local health food store. Well, I would definitely ask your doctor about testing you for yeast. He might give you Diflucan to treat the yeast. I have had to take lots of that. It's just one pill, and it usually knocks the infection out in a few days. Well, good luck and I hope you feel better soon. I'll keep you updated on my situation as well.
Avatar universal
A related discussion, Chronic vaginal infections/ discharge/itchiness was started.
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A related discussion, Check out the site I found was started.
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