So having a bath one day I noticed a whitehead type spot on the lip of my labia, on closer inspection a couple of others teeny looking ones near the top of my vagina.
Stupidly rather than even consider it was a wart, I tried squeezing the biggest one (don't recommend 1 because of the pain, 2 because that's a sure fire way to make something infectious spread).
Was pretty gross. The whole thing came out, it was rooted like a tooth, and it bled. A lot. For whatever reason I didn't mention this when I was booked in for my smear test and a sexual health screening a week later. A week after that I got the all clear I just carried on with life.
Just over a month later, almost without me realising my 'spots' got a lot worse. There was a cluster where I'd pulled the first one that was so white, it did actually look like the cauliflower some people describe them as.
So I went back to my GP and got an appointment with the nurse. I thought shaving rash, boils, she took one look, "yep, as I thought, they're genital warts."
The blood must have drained from my face and I started shaking and I could feel tears in my eyes before she began referring me to a clinic to go have them treated the following week.
So at this clinic I had to re do all my STI tests just in case. To be fair, it is something called HPV that causes the warts. I was told that unless you have they symptoms i.e the warts it can't be tested for or treated. In fact, even using condoms and practising safe sex can't entirely protect you.
I was given a session of cryotherapy, which didn't hurt as much as I thought it would and Aldara cream to home treat the rest. I was told to return if there was no improvement.
Well if anything it got worse, and more inflamed. I went to a walk in clinic local to me and just burst into tears. Bless the nurse and doctor I met on that day. They did another round of cryotherapy and talked to me about how I was doing emotionally.
Which I really needed. I was single at the time and literally couldn't bear to tell anyone. I felt so ashamed and just dirty.
So now, a couple months from noticing them and not going for regular treatment because I felt so depressed about it they reached an apex.
The warts becAme so big and numerous I could feel them when I wiped myself, when I braved myself to look in a mirror I could hardly see my vagina for these warts.
I went straight back to my local walkin clinic, I was told I could return for cryo up to 3 times a week provided my skin healed imbetween sessions. And they spoke to me more about looking after myself emotionally.
So I started doing regular cryo and over the next month they got a bit better. I was eating terribly and still smoking at this time against the advice of my nurse.
In the 2 weeks I followed my nurses advice, went for regular cryo, stopped smoking, ate well and had salt baths on the area - they basically vanished.
I wanted to share my story because I buried my head in the sand and all it did was make things a LOT worse. This went on for a period of almost 4 months and god knows how long they'd been there before.
I also never really thanked the team of considerate and kind doctors and nurses that consoled and cryo'd me. We're so lucky in the UK to have access to free support like this.
Ladies. Don't be shy of your vaginas, if you notice something odd, however tiny - get it checked, and hopefully you'll save yourself from a scary emotional journey. If I'd mentioned it to my doctor at that smear they'd have noticed it as something wrong rather than me waiting for it to get as bad as it did.