theitchybits

Living with Lichen Sclerosis in a world still afraid of the vagina…

It’s been awhile….

It’s been a while since my last blog post, and in that time I have done a lot of learning and thinking.

Before I begin, let me explain my absence. I recently graduated University yay and began my first real job in the adult world. I had to move house  ( with my boyfriend’s very kind parents whilst we save to move house) and got accepted for a masters degree next September. All in all a very busy and exciting time. If you’re busy and excited you’re sure to be at least a little stressed. Not great for Lichen Sclerosis…But as I’ve said before, I will not let my obsession with my vagina stop me living life. HA!

So….back to

Learning and Thinking

Since starting this blog I’ve done a lot of researching, learning and amending the way I live my life. Getting Lichen Sclerosis is a huge learning curve, or at least it should be, for a every woman and man who is diagnosed. You’re basically told that your body is attacking your skin cells, that your diet, clothing and washing habits will all contribute to making this disease worse. Not only is this a horrible and painful disease but it mainly attacks a part of the body that for many, whether knowingly or not, forms a huge part of their personality, identity or psyche. Learning to change lifestyle habits that for most LS sufferers have had for life is tough. A lot of women are diagnosed during menopause, that’s a lot of habit. Even for young toddlers there will be a lot change. Young parents will have to change their lifestyles, whilst dealing with the pain of seeing their child suffer and knowing there will be no cure.

Whilst I found many of the changes  I had to make easy I found many difficult and I still struggle. Switching to organic haircare was easy, though making my own at home didn’t last long. I struggled greatly with changing my diet to the raw food diet. I became very sickly, with many vitamin deficiencies.

I think the problem is that I tried to change too much too quickly. I thought Id have the will power and knowledge to completely change my lifestyle in a few short months. How wrong I was.   I’ll talk about each issue below.

Diet

Diet is the hardest to change. I’m already a vegetarian and many of the autoimmunity protocol diets require the removal of food types which are a huge part of my diet and to instead eat lots of meat. Not Great. I did not wish to sacrifice my morals for my health. I began the raw food diet. This did not go well. The main issue was no matter how much healthy food I ate if I didn’t eat enough calories none of the vitamins from these would be absorbed. I really struggled to pack raw food recipes full of enough calories to be sustainable. I was so disappointed with myself. I felt like a failure. I let my vagina down.

After much thought and research I believe that I won’t be able to just pick up someone else’s ready made diet plan and expect it to work for me. It just won’t. Just like all of our symptoms are different so are our dietary needs.

I think an important thing to remember is that PROPER PLANNING PREVENTS PISS POOR PERFORMANCE.

Before beginning my diet changes I am going to properly plan everything. I cannot change my diet too much write now as someone else is doing the shopping and the cooking. So I am going make a recipe book, based around the food diary I’ve been keeping. The recipe book will contain a months worth of recipes for each piece of food I will remove from my diet. Starting with gluten.

 

Gluten is such a huge thing to remove which is why i think this needs proper planning. I need to know where to buy the best and least expensive gluten free products.  I will put the first month of recipes on here when they are complete.

Skin care

In my first few blog posts I told you guys about sodium laureth sulfate a horrid little sulfonate used in car wash and oven cleaner which is also put into our skin care products. I have mostly eliminated all skin care products containing this or its sister products, in both cheap and expensive ways. In the next few months I’ll be sharing more hints and tips on the best carcinogen free and organic skin and hair care products including makeup brands.

Today I quickly want to mention oral health.

I know believe I have Lichen Planus, Which, I guess, can be described as oral LS. the centre of my lip along the gum is splitting and fusing all the time. I have white patches on my gums. I AM THRILLED!

As such a I began to examine the products I brush my teeth with.

Can you believe that there is only one toothpaste on the shelves not containing sodium laureth sulfate. No wonder they tell us not swallow. I cannot believe I have been brushing my teeth all this time with a product that is in oven cleaner.

The toothpaste without SLS in Sensodyne toothpaste, which is relatively cheap toothpaste.

 

In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing products, recipes and research I have discovered over the last few months. But first….

It’s VULVUARY

The Vulva Health Awareness Campaign has launched a vulva health awareness month in February. You can find out how to help raise awareness by emailing them at vulvuary@vhac.org

Also PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take the British Associations of Dermatologists Survey on vulva health. The more people who take this survey the more likely it is that they will realise just how many people are affected by LS and other vulvar diseases.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BADVulvalSurvey2015

  Find out how you can help to make awareness by emailing vulvuary@vhac.org and download the awareness poster and display it anywhere where women will have the chance to see it and be educated.

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The Importance of Food

I haven’t posted for a while because I’ve been a bit under the weather, with two colds/flu in a row. I guess this is common with a compromised immune system. I’ll give you a quick update before I continue with this post. I went to the doctors on the 18th for my first check up since being diagnosed. My dermatologist had a quick look before telling me everything looks good and that I should discontinue with Clob until I have my next flare. Now everything I have read online, and all of the information which the ladies in the Facebook LS groups share, tells me that this is wrong. That I should continue with maintenance between flare ups. Having lost a bit of confidence in my dermatologist, I got a mirror out when I was home and had a look myself. I found that I had new white patches around the entrance of my vagina. This tells me my doctor didn’t properly examine. It is so important to check your own vulva, as no one will know what it should look like better than yourself.  OK, so on with this blog post.

The Importance of Food

In what little research there is for LS, there is quite a lot of thought about what affects diet can of a compromised immune system. A lot of women with LS have found that they have more flare ups when they eat things like sugar and gluten. As such there are a lot of different diets which the LS ladies love.

So over the last few weeks I have done a bit of research into the two diets which I think will best suit me, to decide which one I should do. Both of these diets require a lot of will power and change to life style, so it was not a light decision. The two diets are The Whole 30 Program and the Raw food Diet. I have decided to give the Raw Food Diet a shot. I’m going to discuss both diets and the reasons why I chose one and not the other. However, this is such a personal choice and the reason I chose the Raw Food diet will become clear.

The Whole 30 Program

The idea of The Whole 30 Program is that so food groups, such as sugar, grains, dairy and legumes, could be a having a negative impact on your health and fitness. The Whole 30 Program argues that this can lead to symptoms such as inconsistent energy levels and skin conditions. They believe that such symptoms may be directly related to the food we eat.

The idea of this program is to strip harmful food groups from your diet for a full 30 days. This is to allow the body to heal and recover from the effects of food.  However, for these 30 days you have to be so strict and there are a lot of rules.

Firstly, you are not allowed to drink alcohol or smoke at all.  Not even for cooking.

You are not allowed to consume sugar of any kind. Real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, Splenda and Stevia etc.  This means no sugar in your coffee. No sugar in anything that you buy from shops, cutting out a lot of pre-made ingredients for such as, pasta sauces or curry sauces.

You can not eat grains. So no wheat (bread), rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, bulgur, buckwheat, sprouted grains, or quinoa. This includes using these things in the form of bran or starch.

No Legumes. This means beans of any kind, including kidney beans, black beans, red beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils and peanuts. No peanut butter either. This includes any soy, so no soy sauce, miso, tofu, etc.

No dairy at all. This included cow, goat or sheep. No cheese, yoghurt (even Greek), sour cream, etc.

You are not allowed to recreate baked goods, junk food or treats with ‘approved ingredients’. So no ‘Paleo Pop-Tarts’. This is constituted as missing the point.

You are then supposed to reintroduce food groups, one at a time, to see which ones make you ill.

The Reason I Did Not Choose This Diet. 

I didn’t choose this diet for a number of reasons. I mean look at it, it’s so strict. You can’t recreate any treats, this means you couldn’t even make a carrot cake as an alternative. Nothing.

I am also a vegetarian, which means a lot of the food which I eat for protein are not allowed in the Whole 30 program. I could get quite ill from this diet, no matter how positive it is. This leave the Raw food Diet.

The Raw Food Diet.

The idea of this diet is that you eat your food raw. Essentially you become a vegan, and eat a lot of veg. Any food which you do heat up can not be warmed over 115 degrees. The reasons for this are simple.

Heating your food over this temperature kills the natural enzymes in food. Enzymes help you digest your food. Your body can create enzymes but that process takes a lot of energy. This process makes you feel tired and heavy after a cooked food meal. Further, the enzymes your body makes are not as efficient and effective as the ones that were destroyed in your food. Food is not broken down and thus becomes harder to digest.

Heating your food over this changes the pH of the food and makes food acidic. We like to eat alkaline foods.

Heating your food converts easy to absorb minerals into inorganic, hard to absorb- minerals. It also destroys vitamins.

On the Raw Food diet you generally eat 75% raw fruits, vegetables, (germinated) seeds and nuts, and super foods. You can eat the plain, or juiced. There are many online recipes for gourmet raw food, and there are some fantastic raw food restaurants, particularly in America.

Why This Diet

I chose this diet because it will have very little effect on the way I eat already. As a vegetarian, for moral reasons, the next logical step is to become Vegan for health reasons. I will be posting a lot of  the recipes I will be learning over the next few weeks, and how I get on with this transition.

You can take a look at both diet plans yourself by clicking on the links below. 

http://whole30.com/whole30-program-rules/

http://www.thebestofrawfood.com/raw-food-diet.html

 

Achievement unlocked.

This morning I got my very first anal fissure.

Fucking great.

I know this because it is bleeding and sore.

Awesome.

I could get upset and cry and hate this disease. I could sit here in front of my morning brew and wonder if this means that it’s spread. That I will have to go to my appointment with my dermatologist tomorrow and be told that since diagnosis it has gotten worse and not better.

But fuck it! I won’t.

Instead I sat on the toilet, bloody tissue in hand, thinking ‘LS achievement unlocked’!

I have to face up to the fact that I will have this disease, condition, for my whole life. There is no cure, there is very little knowledge of cause.

I cannot and will not allow every set back get to me.

So just fuck it. Fuck this disease.

So as I have been sitting here with a pain in my arse, literally, I’ve been wondering what it is about this condition that makes me so obsessed with my vagina.

I was brought up by my mother to be a strong independent young women. I am not defined by my gender or sexuality. I believe in equality, and feminism, although not the shaved head, man hating kind. I wrote my 9000 word dissertation on the Suffrage movement and the first women’s theatre movement.

I believe, or thought I believed, that the vagina does not a women make.

Yet, now that my vagina is being threatened. It is sore and painful.

 I am obsessed.

I have a disease which I and most women with it find hard to talk about. ‘How are you?’, ‘well, quite frankly not great. I’m struggling to sit down at the moment because I have torn my arse open, and not due to anything exciting. But I am quite enjoying the breeze between my legs because I have no underwear on.’

Genital talk is inappropriate.

My sore vagina will make others uncomfortable.

Even if you feel you can talk to someone about the disease they don’t quite understand the magnitude with which it affects you.

Why am I obsessed with my vagina?

It is a part of who I am.

Not my identity. I still firmly believe that the vagina does not a women make. But take away a women’s vagina and you affect her sexuality, which affects her confidence, which makes her question who she is and her self worth.

Is it me or is it society which causes this deep seated obsession with the vagina? Society makes us believe that womanhood is synonymous with sexuality, femininity and vagina.

If I struggle with my vagina am I not still a women?

I am because I know I am. You are what you chose to be.

I chose not to let this disease confirm within myself and within others who I am, or what I fail to be.

Everyone’s personal struggle outweighs that of others. Not because people don’t understand but because it is individual.

I will carry this disease with me now, always. I will carry its scars between my legs but I will not carry it’s scars on my soul.

I will simply say, fuck it.

‘Don’t be a zombie!’

‘Don’t be a zombie!’.

Lichen Sclerosus: The Unspoken Pain

This blog post steps away from the theme of my recent posts. The reason for this is because today I watched a lecture of a pod cast called Lichen Sclerosus: The Unspoken Pain. The lecture is led by a very decorated doctor interested in vulvavaginal disorders. Dr. Andrew Goldstein presents the most recent thoughts about the causes and treatment of Lichen Sclerosus.

I wanted to share this video for many reasons. Firstly, I learned a heck of a lot. Secondly, because it scared the shit out of me. It showed me how little I actually know about my disease, and how little the doctors who treat us know about LS.  It scared me how far my LS could progress. However, I do encourage everyone to watch this as it was so educational. It could even be used to explain to family and partners how serious our disease is. For example, LS is often misdiagnosed because Gynaecologists know very little by LS, and Dermatologist are often wary of doing genital examinations and often have the wrong equipment for a correct examination and diagnosis (such as stirrups).

One thing this video has taught me that I, and other LS suffers, truly need to be clued up on the recent information around our disease. We should be able to recognise when we are given misinformation and demand the correct treatment. For instance, until I watched this video I had no idea that I was applying my medication completely wrong.

I also wish to share a few notes that I wrote down whilst watching the video. Take a read if you don’t have time to watch it or don’t wish to watch it.

Lichen Sclerosus.

Ok, so LS is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder that predominately effects the anogential area.

Symptoms:

LS is caused by a thickening of the skin: LS can be spotted by ivory white plaques of thickened skin, often described as ‘cigarette paper’ in a ‘butterfly keyhole’ or ‘figure 8’ pattern.  This causes fissures, erosions and purpura (bruising) on the genitals.

Women with LS will have minor to significant scarring and architectural changes. Such as, the clitoral hood fusing over the clit. This is called phimosis of the clitoris, and can lead to women being unable to achieve orgasm.

Women with LS can also have a resorption of the labia minora (inner or smaller labia), and a narrowing of the vaginal entrance.

Dr Goldstein argues that very often women go undiagnosed because they are asymptomatic. Women who do not have active symptoms of LS can still have active LS and should be treated. Active symptoms of LS include itching and burning.

Very often only prepubescent girls and menopausal women have active symptoms of burning and itching. This is because they do not have estrogen/testosterone active. This means many young women in between these two groups go undiagnosed unless they have complaints of painful sex.

Causes:

Dr. Goldstein describes LS similarly to how I described it my blog post The Nitty Gritty of It, however, he also describes it in a much more technical way too.

Dr. Goldstein states that LS is caused by the immune system or white blood cells recognising cells in the genital area as a foreign body. The white blood cells in women with LS are attacking the proteins in the basement membrane, or the bottom layer of the genital skin.

Evidence of genetics and environment:

Dr Goldstein discusses that their is a small chance that there is a link between LS and genetics, or secondary genetics. This means that LS could be present in family members such as grandmother/granddaughter. However, he puts forward that it is hard to know this as very often family members will not discuss having LS, or grandparents would not have been diagnosed.

Dr Goldstein also argues that environmental triggers can also cause LS. He believes that Lyme disease, other infections, or even trauma such as, riding a bike could cause LS. Although, again, he states there is very little research into this.

A Complicated Disease.

Dr Goldstein argues that Lichen Sclerosus is a complicated disease because unlike other diseases, LS has over 100 different genes turned off or on.

-73 genes in women with LS are turned on, when they should typically be turned off.

-26 genes in women with LS are turned off, when they should typically be turned on.

He argues that there genes/proteins group together, and are responsible for the inflammation and immune response present in LS.

He argues that the concentration of molecular proteins could, in the future, be targeted by medication specific to Lichen Sclerosus. A more precise method of treatment, whereas steroids affect everything- shock application.

This was the first study to look at localised treatment of Lichen Sclerosus. However, Goldstein, typically, was given no further funding to carry out further studies.

Correct use of medication:

Dr Goldstein states that there is thick layer of skin present about the area where the disease lies (the bottom layer of skin). As such, a thin layer of medicine applied to the skin won’t be able to get through the thick layer of skin and scar tissue,so won’t be able to treat the disease.

The correct use:

Soak in warm water for 15-20 minutes.

This is so the thick skin is soft enough for the medicine to get through to the bottom layer.

Apply medicine and rub for 90 seconds.

According to Dr. Goldstein ONLY this method of application is effective in the treatment of LS through clob etc.

Dr. Goldstein also argues that a topical cream is not effective in the treatment of LS as women are more likely to react the preservatives present in the topical creams. As such, only ointment should be used.

Dr Goldstein states that Estrogen and Testosterone should only be used to improve the health of the skin, as it does not treat the disease or inflammation.

Testosterone alone does not work and Dr. Goldstein argues should not be used alone at all.

What I found interesting about all of this is that Goldstein argues, as most of us are aware, that women with LS are more likely to have other autoimmune disease. Almost everyone on my mothers side of the family have a thyroid gland problem, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them also had LS, but I have no idea how to ask. I was also treated for Discitis when I was 14 years old. This is an infection in the spinal cord, and left me unable to walk and in hospital for two weeks. Now, on researching this further I found that Discitis is also linked to autoimmune diseases.

As much as this video terrified me, I am so glad that I watched it.

The hairy bits

So the theme of the last post and the next few posts is sacrifice. How I hate the sacrifices we women have to make due to LS. This post will be talking about hair care.

When I was diagnosed with Lichen sclerosis my dermatologist informed me that I should not wash my hair in the conventional way. He advised me to use shampoo and conditioner without sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). He said that SLS would affect my LS and cause flare ups, and that I should also be sure to wash my hair separately to my body, to avoid shampoo and conditioner washing down between my thighs.

Now, I don’t know about other women but leaning over the bathtub to wash my hair, even at 23, is no easy feet. It hurts my back, its uncomfortable. I get my bathroom floor soaking wet. I was pretty pissed at yet another sacrifice.

But after I went home and did some research on what sodium lauryl sulphate was, I soon changed my mind.

SLS of it.

Sodium lauryl sulphate, and its sister sodium laureth sulphate, are surfactants. All surfactants are partly water-soluble and partly oil-soluble. It is this which allows oil and water to become mixed. At about a minimum concentration, the surfactants molecules become organised in a structure that can trap the oil based dirt from the hair, allowing it to be rinsed away. The foaming effect you get from shampooing is not responsible for removing dirt, but allows the hands to work the shampoo through the hair.

It is arguably the most harmful element in hair care and body care products. SLS is also used in garage floor cleaners,  car-wash soaps, Fairy Liquids and engine degreaser, as it is corrosive and attacks greasy surfaces. SLS is used throughout the world for clinical testing as a primary skin irritant. Laboratories use it to irritate skin on test animals, and people so they may then test healing agents to see how effective they are on the skin.

All of this research got me thinking. I wouldn’t wash my skin with car-wash soap or floor cleaner, so why would I use something with the same corrosive product on my skin and hair. This next section is about how you can care for your hair without the risk of damaging your skin any further.

Hair care

Organix Coconut Milk Shampoo and Conditioner

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One great product I have found is the Organix Coconut Milk shampoo and conditioner. It’s completely sulphate free. This means you will not get any of the bubbles you get from your normal shampoo, but it is kind to your skin. You do, however, get enough lather to feel as though the product is cleaning your hair. This is due to the whipped egg white ingredient present in the formula, which, being a protein, helps to strengthen the hair. The shampoo is very soft and silky, which I guess is the coconut milk/oil working its way through the hair, washing away the dirt and helping to hydrate and nourish.

I love this shampoo product. It left my hair feeling clean, and smelling fantastic. It’s very easy when using a product which does not foam as much to feel as though you haven’t cleaned your hair. But, after using this product since I was diagnosed in May, I love it.

The only downside is the price. I spend nearly £14 on the shampoo and conditioner each time. Which is so expensive, especially as I’m a recently graduated student house hunting for her first apartment with her boyfriend. He has me on a tight budget and this doesn’t cut it.

Organic Home-made Shampoo

Your other option is to make a home-made, completely organic and chemical free shampoo. Which I have tested out a recipe for you, and I can tell you how to do it and what I think of it. This is why it took so long between blogs, I was waiting for the ingredients to arrive.

Ingredients and where to get them:

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All products can be purchased from Amazon.

Organic Lavender Castile Liquid Soap.

I got 1 litre on Amazon for £12.29. Seems expensive but you use so little in each batch I expect it to last quite awhile. It’s made of organic oils and has no harmful ingredients.

Dried flowers.

You’ll need some dried flowers of some kind. I used Chamomile flowers, as they have a bleaching effect on light hair. If you have dark hair you can use dried Lavender or Rosemary. I got 100 grams from The Alchemists Apothecary on Amazon and it cost £1.95. It’s got a pretty good date on; April 2016.

100ml Vegetable Glycerine.

I got this for £2.99 on Amazon. It’s a clear liquid which is a derivative of vegetable oil and is used in hair care products and in soap making as a preservative.

Ingredients for 8 oz of shampoo:

First you’ll need to make your basic shampoo. This can be done by mixing ¼ cup (60ml) of Castile with ¼ cup (60ml) water.

½ cup  (120ml) of water.

2 tablespoons of dried Chamomile (or other flower).

½ cup (120ml) of pre-made basic shampoo.

2 tablespoons of Glycerine.

How to make:

Mix the water and herbs together and add to a pan.

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Heat gently to make a strong tea.

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Let the mixture steep for a minimum of 20 minutes.

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I then removed the flower stems from the mixture but you can leave them in if you wish.

Then add the basic shampoo mixture and glycerine. Stir well.

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Pour the shampoo mixture into a squeezey bottle, or empty and thoroughly cleaned old shampoo bottle.

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Leave overnight to thicken.

When washing hair:

Make sure you wash your hair on a cool temperature. The cooler the temperature the more shiny your hair will be.

Use only a small amount to begin with, about the size of a 50 pence piece. Lather in your hands first and work through the hair.

Remember the organic shampoo won’t lather the same as shop bought stuff.

Make sure you rinse it thoroughly, for about two minutes.

With organic home-made shampoo you don’t really need to condition the hair. Conditioner is predominantly used to recondition the hair after the shampoo has stripped the hair of nutrients. However, you can use the smallest amount of coconut oil as a conditioner, working only the ends. I got 100g organic virgin coconut solid oil from Amazon for about £3.

When you’ve finished washing your hair don’t rub it dry as this can cause split ends. Pat and dab dry, before wrapping it in a towel and leaving it for about 20 minutes.

I then followed with some Argon oil.

Now the first time I tried this I didn’t follow my own instructions. I rushed the rinsing part and used far too much coconut oil as I was worried about how the shampoo would leave my hair. As a result my hair came out greasy and overly oiled by the coconut.

I washed it again this morning and I have to say I love the results. I didn’t condition my hair after the shampoo. My hair is soft and shiny, as you can see in the picture. I simply blow dried my hair on a low temperature and took the picture as was. It even smells nice.

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My results from Organic Home-made Shampoo

*Please note that each 8oz batch of shampoo will only last about a month before you should throw it out. 8oz is enough for a months worth of hair care anyway, and for the amount of ingredients you get for your money you will have plenty to keep making more shampoo. Remember, if your organic shampoo smells bad, it is bad. Throw it out.

Sex appeal, more like no appeal.

One of the things that annoys me about this condition is how much I’ve had to sacrifice and change since I was diagnosed in May.

Take this for example. I’m a young 23-year-old women, I love feeling sexy. But I’ve finally accepted that my lacy French briefs, that I love to wear, just no longer work for me. Here’s why I love to wear them. I deeply believe that if a woman feels sexy underneath her clothes that this will radiate outwards, giving her confidence. I love wearing a well-fitting black bra and a matching pair of lace Frenchies. They make me feel good. If I know I have nice underwear on, I feel good straight away.

But when you have LS it’s so important to let your vagina breath. Tight lace knickers just do not do this.  It’s hard to feel sexy, no matter how nice your underwear is, when you have this constant irritation between the thighs.

The next few blog entries will be dedicated to those little LS sacrifices, which to some women could seem a big deal, and how to navigate around them.

So first things first. Underwear!

A lot of people suggest wearing 100% cotton underwear. Whilst others suggest wearing no underwear, if you can.  The main thing to note about both of these options is that they allow the air to circulate, and keep the vulva area free of irritation.

So I’ve had a poke round the shops and on the internet to find some cotton underwear that I can still feel comfortable in. I’ve listed them below, with where to get them, how much they cost and what I think of them.

Marks and Spencer’s Full Cotton Briefs.

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Now these are 100% cotton, and you get 5 in a pack for £5. The sizing is a little big. Handy if your prefer your brief a little bit looser, but if they are too loose they will rub. My problem with these is they do look a bit Bridget Jones in style. They also aren’t great if you’re wearing clothes which show your tummy.

The Sock Shop

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The Sock Shop sells a wide range of cotton underwear, however, they are usually around 95% cotton mark. I love the Sloggie light cotton shorts. They are 91% cotton. The great thing about these is that they have been ‘laser cut’ and have sealed edges. This means that they are super comfortable to wear but, like frenchies or thong, you don’t get a knicker line. I also find that the shape of the shorts are very flattering particularly if you have wide hips. They are a little expensive though. It’s usually £13 quid for one pair but you can get them with 25% off at the moment.

The Natural Store

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Now these are my favourite. The natural store does a variety of underwear styles all in a 100% organic cotton. The pair shown above cost £6.50. The thing I like about these is that they are not only 100% organic cotton, they are also ethical too. They are made by a women’s co-operative on the Malabar coast of Kerala India, giving them much-needed employment.

Now I want to talk about those days when you wish to go commando. I think the important thing about going without underwear is still feeling comfortable. That means wearing clothes that you won’t flash some poor unsuspecting soul.

Midi Skirts

Midi skirts are tube or cone-shaped and hang from the waist covering most or all of the legs. Midi skirts are great when going commando because they securely cover the areas you don’t want seen, there is no risk of friction and they allow air to circulate. Below I’ve selected a few midi skirts to show how and when they can be worn.

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The first is a monochrome Aztec lantern shaped midi skirt with a zip fastening at the back from Top Shop. It’s a little expensive at £45. This is a lovely skirt for a few reasons.  Its slightly rigid state will keep it in place and stop it blowing up. Monochrome is a key trend for the autumn winter season. It can also be worn casually with a cute top, or for work.

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This pleated matelasse midi skirt is perfect. It’s from forever 21 and costs a cheap £15. It’s described as structured but breezy which is just what you need for an LS commando day. It can be worn with a boxy t-shirt to keep its traditional a-line shape, keeping it in trend for the coming season.

Harem Trousers.

If like me you prefer wearing jeans but find that they cause too much friction or cannot be worn when going commando, then harem trousers are a perfect alternative. Harem trousers are much looser around the waist, almost tulip shaped but they come in again to fit closely around the ankles.

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The traveler ikat harem pants from Forever 21 cost  £14.75. They can be worn casually with a white vest top and denim jacket, or in work by swapping the jacket for a blazer or smart cardie.

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The TopShop badge trousers are a bit more expensive costing £32. They 59% cotton and can be worn casually around the house, or as pjs.

In my next blog I will talk about hair care alternatives.

The Nitty Gritty Bits

So here’s the nitty gritty of what I’ve discovered so far.

 

Lichen Sclerosus is a long-term skin disorder which affects the skin around the genitals. There is no definite known cause, although it is believed to be an autoimmune disease.

 

In what little studies there are it is suggested that LS is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system sees the skin cells of the genitals as a foreign body and thus attacks it. Think of it like this. Each section of your body has its own section of skin, all of which is genetically different. So the skin on the palm of your hand is genetically different to the skin on your knee. This is why the immune system doesn’t attack all skin sells but only those it recognises as wrong, or foreign, typically around the vulva area (in women).

 

This causes small itchy white spots to form on the vagina as the skin cells thicken from the attack. These white patches spread and form white plaques. The white plaques thicken and will eventually become thin, wrinkled and fragile. This process of thickening and thinning is what causes the affected areas on the vulva to tear and fuse together. Thus the shrinking of the vulva.

 

LS is uncommon and affects 1 in 1000 women. It usually affects women over the age of 50.


I am 23 and my body hates me.

UPDATE: Someone on the LS Facebook page pointed out to me that some women have had their LS start in the anal area, as none itchy white patches and hard to heal anal fissures.  This highlights the fact that every women is extremely different. And all women (and men, children) experience this condition differently. It also stresses the importance of regularly checking, and getting to know your genital area. Even for men and women without a condition.

See, I’m learning more already.

Lichen What?

I had Lichen Sclerosus for some time before I received my diagnosis, or before I even realised anything was wrong.

It all started when my partner and I would have sex and my bits would tear up with little painful fissures. This was a great pain in the arse in my relationship. We would have to wait a couple of days between each act of intercourse. In a relationship between two randy people who are used to having sex a few times a day, turning round saying ‘soz mate, gonna have to leave it a day or two.’ or ‘Ok, we can try now if you want’ was not ideal, spontaneous or sexy. I didn’t even know I had LS and it was already getting in the way of getting it in.

Then one drunken house party toilet heart to heart between a group of my girlfriends, we started discussing vaginas. We were drunk enough to show each other our vagina’s. Typical bathroom compliments of ‘ oh yours is so neat!’, ensued. I, for the first time, noticed and pointed out the white patches down below. My friends and I really are a far too open bunch of young *cough* ladies.

Some time later I Googled ‘white patches down there’. I don’t know why I put ‘down there’ when the above story clearly indicates that I am no prude. I didn’t want Google to judge. I saw pictures of LS, I was horrified. I called up my best friend and cried down the phone ‘my vagina is going to shrink up!’.  She evidently thought this was hilarious and in true best friend style offered the comment ‘at least you’ll always be tight.’

I visited the gynae, who referred me to the dermatologist. I left the dermatologists office, having had some woman take a few photographs of my vagina, leaving us both, I am sure, embarrassed. It was confirmed, I had Lichen Sclerosus.

My vagina was going to shrink up and disappear. I would never be sexy again. I would be so tight I was too tight.

Check out my next blog entry for information about what LS actually is.