My college roommate almost drove me nuts confiding in me about her possible herpes. She didn’t have the virus, but she thought she did. I witnessed a pattern happen a few times during our four years together and it went something like this: she’d be dating a guy, decide to have sex with him, then freak out during the three to four days after because her Gina was very angry. Red, a little swollen, a little itchy.
She’d go to our school’s medical center, convinced that the friction from sex had irritated the virus causing it to manifest in the form of pissed-off skin. Once with a doctor, she’d explain her theory, they’d check out the situation and say they didn’t see any herpes blisters and that her blood test had come back negative. Then they’d add that it did look irritated and ask her if she had a yeast infection. Next stop would be my room, where’d she recount the whole thing and ask if I could relate. I tried to be there for her, but I found it all very confusing. She’d have me convinced one moment that she had herpes and then come home and tell me what the doctors said and I’d be left wondering whether or not the right thing to do as a friend would be to recommend that she see a therapist.
Then, miracles of miracles, happened: she dated a guy who asked her after their first time together “Hey, are you allergic to latex condoms?” He said that the way she felt after he put the condom on, made him wonder. They bought some non-latex condoms. They tried them out. She never had that reaction again. The tricky thing was, she didn’t realize she had a latex allergy prior to his inquiry. Her sensitivity was light enough that it just caused discomfort.
According to Columbia University there are three levels of latex allergies, which encompass a whole rainbow of latex-sensitive reactions, including red, a little swollen, a little itchy skin. People can go through years trying to figure out what the eff is going on down there. My friend got lucky. Her beau had had a past experience with a girl who also had a mild sensitivity. Once she was exposed to latex in the form of a condom, the area would become very dry and the contraception would almost stick to the inner walls of the vaginal canal. He knew what this felt like and so it prompted him to ask my nearly-frazzled friend.
We all need to pay attention to how our parts are holding up down there. It can be a wonderful place but when things aren’t acting as expected it can become a dark, strange place. If you’re having discomfort ask around, hell, ask everybody, don’t just come to a conclusion on your own and stick to it no matter what. Know that there is most likely a way to help you with whatever you're facing, even if you haven’t thought of it yet.
Ashley Brooke Roberts is a comedian based out of New York City. You can find out more about her at @AshleyBRoberts. Ya, she'd be really into that.