Ask Twin Nurses

by Emma and Kate

E. and K. are identical twins who both happen to be nurses.

If I’m a 27-year-old woman who’s been having sex pretty regularly for the past 10 years and never been on birth control but also never had a pregnancy scare, what are the odds I’m infertile? I use condoms, but there’ve also been stretches where I just wasn’t using condoms (oops). And still, never a flicker of a baby. Does this strike you as odd? Is there some kind of statistic about how many times people have unprotected, trying-to-have-a-baby sex before they actually get pregnant?

We’ve encountered many women with this concern! For instance, one woman in her mid-twenties has practiced the infamous “pull out” technique since she became sexually active at 15, while another takes her pill on a whim. Neither of them has ever been pregnant, and both frequently express this same fear. But, technically, infertility is defined as when a woman has actively tried to become pregnant (has had unprotected sex and been aware of her cycle) for 12 consecutive months without conceiving.

Of course, in reality it’s much harder to get pregnant than Teen Mom makes it look; out of a 28-day menstrual cycle, there’s only a four-day window (two days before and two days after ovulation) when you can conceive. So even if you’ve a) had sex, and b) encountered sperm that’s hearty enough to make the journey and then penetrate the egg, the zygote (egg + sperm) still has to make the perilous and lengthy journey from fallopian tubes to the uterus. Thinking about everything that has to happen to make a baby, its sometimes shocking that ANYONE ever gets pregnant, but, obviously, pregnancy does occur (regularly!), and only 8% of couples are technically infertile. Most of these couples, however, with various treatments can go on to conceive. Not getting pregnant after a year of trying and being labeled “infertile” DOES NOT mean you will never become pregnant!

(But it’s never worth the risk, so always use protection! Condoms aren’t just for protecting unwanted pregnancy — certain STDs can go unnoticed in men, and when those STDs appear in women, sex drives, relationships, and even fertility can be ruined.)

I heard you can cure yeast infections by putting raw garlic up your vagina. That’s … insane, but also fascinating and a cheap alternative? Does it work, how long do you have to keep the garlic in there (also, holy shit, obviously), and can you please suggest a good joke to make about Italian cooking in regards to this garlic cure?

This oddly enough is true! It’s best to catch the infection right away, though, because the longer you wait the more times you have to put the garlic up your vagina. (Basically, garlic kills yeast.)

What you need to do is stick a clove of it in there, which you can do it during the day — although creepily and revoltingly you’ll actually be able to taste it. So unless you like having the taste of garlic lingering in your mouth, reminding you of the clove of it stashed in your lady parts, you should do it at night. It can work in as quickly as one night, and you’ll know it’s been successful when you no longer feel any itchiness.

But if you’ve waited until your infection has progressed and have discharge and swollen red labia (sexy!), you can still attempt this trick but will need a higher “dose” of the garlic. The way to get the garlic the most potent is to cut the clove in half. Every night put a fresh (and cloven!) clove of garlic in there, and if it doesn’t get better after a few days you should probably get an over-the-counter remedy. (However, everyone responds differently to over-the-counter remedies — e.g., Monistat — some favorably, some with extreme reactions that produce an exaggerated and painful inflammation of the labia.)

For easy retrieval, sew a piece of thread into the garlic so it’s easier to take out in the morning. (If you don’t use the string trick, it might come out on its own, or you might have to do some rooting around. And if you’re not sure whether it’s all out, you can handily see if your mouth tastes like garlic — if it does, you still have some searching to do. If not, you’re home free!)

And similar to how fingers can smell garlicky long after the garlic-cutting is over, you might want to make sure it’s been a while since you employed this garlic cure before you invite anyone down into that region.

As always, prevention is key when it comes to yeast infections! Some things every woman can do:

1) No douching or vaginal powder sprays.
2) Wear cotton underpants as often as possible.
3) Eat yogurt regularly.

Oh, also, I also heard that you can cure yeast infections by pouring plain yogurt into the finger of a rubber glove, freezing it, and then sleeping with this homemade popsicle up your vagina. Which, holy extra shit, for ever and ever. And which also raises a bunch more questions: do you have to wear, like, a diaper or something? Do you have to do this more than one night in a row? Is this actually for real?

We have a gross story about this: a friend of a friend who happens to be a guy thought he had some sort of yeast infection on his penis so he bought a diaper and filled it with yogurt! And wore it around the house and when he took it off … he put it in the refrigerator!!! So he could reuse it! This is a) gross and b) not the right way to go about it.

Yes, plain, unsweetened yogurt with active cultures does work to cure yeast infections, but there are less-repulsive ways to use it than sleeping with a frozen yogurt popsicle melting into your diaper.

For instance, the simplest and easiest way is to push out a half-inch of a tampon and dip the exposed part in yogurt. Make sure the exposed part has expanded, because this means it’s absorbed some of the yogurt rather than just being coated in it. Then insert the tampon and leave it in for an hour (or overnight, which is more effective). This gets the yogurt, which has bacteria that fights the yeast, in the right area to begin its job.

Another way is to buy a syringe with a plastic tip at a pharmacy, fill it with yogurt, insert it as far as you can, and deposit the yogurt right where it needs to be. (But make sure to wear a pad for when the yogurt seeps out!) Although we suggest the tampon method and eating lots of yogurt.

(Please do not rely on this for medical advice; see your doctor if you have any questions.)