Today I went to see my doctor (Dr. Goldstein at the Center for Vulvo Vaginal Disorders). He performed an exam where he did the Q-tip test again, took a culture (because I thought I might have another yeast infection since I was experiencing some pain aside from my usual pain) and then discussed his findings with me.
The deal is that this time when he performed the Q-tip test I rated the pain from 3-6 as opposed to last time, when I rated it from 4-9. This means that the pain has decreased somewhat simply from me going off of my birth control pills and applying the estrogen/ testosterone cream. I am 25% better, so this is a good thing. However, I still have a ways to go.
The doctor and I have determined that I will continue with this treatment for the next 3 months, at which time the maximum benefit that I could potentially reap from this will be apparent. At that time, if I still feel pain, I may need to get a surgery (the vestibulectomy). So we will see.
Last time, when they took my blood, my hormone levels were in the dumpster. Now, the way birth control pills work is that they depress hormone levels to begin with. But apparently, I had a really weird reaction to the birth control pills in that they depressed my hormone levels more than they do those of others who are on the pill who don't get this kind of side effect. And the pill I was on, for those who are curious, is Yasmin (the generic is Ocella). So, to quote Dr. Goldstein "your hormone levels reflected those of a menopausal woman." Here I am, barely 25, and I've got the hormones of a 50-year-old menopausual woman. So the fact that I wasn't getting lubricated or aroused (my libido was not a happy one) was solidly due to the fact that my hormones wouldn't really be allowing for that.
They took my blood again this time, and the hope is that when they run their tests, the hormone levels should be back to normal.
I also learned that it's possible for yeast to be excreted via the rectum because if you eat a high-sugar diet (as I am wont to do), yeast can come that way. So even if I don't have a yeast infection in the vagina, I could be feeling irritated by yeast due to my diet- so I should stop eating lots of sugary foods, if I can. (This because he saw that the external part of me, the perineum, looked a little irritated- potentially by yeast).
Anyway, getting off the birth control pills meant that my vaginal tissue is a lot healthier now, looks less atrophied, and is all around happier.
Apparently there are actually studies that have been done that show that sexual dysfunction is often linked to the use of hormonal contraception.
There's a bunch of fun side effects to having low estrogen levels. I wonder whether my moodiness this past year has been because of this. Gosh, that sucks- to be ingesting something into your body, thinking that you just want to get settled into your marriage, and yet that same thing is making you moody, depressed, anxious, unable to get lubricated as much as you should be and potentially dry and in sexual pain (in the worst case scenario).
Anyway, I HOPE that I can just get totally cured through this treatment and I won't need the surgery at all, but the doctor said that even if I do need the surgery, everything I am doing to get the tissue as healthy as possible is really important as the first step. So either way it's good.