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Change in Vaginal pH--continual bacterial vaginosis?

cloudsinmycoffee Member Posts: 2

I took letrozole (Femara) for 13 months (stopped taking it March 2014) but finally decided the poorer quality of life was not worth the side effects; my oncologist agreed. Even though I had gone through natural menopause many years ago (age 52; I'm now 67), up to the month before I started taking letrozole (Feb 2013), I still had a very high sex drive, still lubricated easily and a lot, and had no problem reaching orgasm. While I was taking letrozole, I went through horrible hot flashes (much worse than when I went through menopause the first time), the walls of my vagina became what seemed to be paper thin, they were gray, and insertion of anything caused me to tear and bleed to the point that I'd have thought I just thrust a sharp knife inside myself. What I hated most of all is that my natural vaginal scent disappeared. I always had a very mild scent, but to me it was me and had been since my early teens. I could tell in an instant if there was anything amiss just by the change in the scent. I was happy with the scent and was never concerned at the prospect of having oral sex because I knew the scent was pleasant and very very mild. I felt like not only did I lose my breast (left-sided mastectomy, no nipple sparing), but I lost what to me made me me sexually. My sexual self disappeared/died. Since stopping the letrozole 15 months ago, the walls of my vagina are a little thicker and pinker, nothing like they were, and I still bleed almost as severely with any internal friction. Even the inner lips of my vulva will bleed; they will look like I have a rug burn. One positive note is that my sex drive has never diminished, and my vagina is almost as pliable/flexible as it was pre-letrozole therapy. However, I have never been able to orgasm from oral stimulation (so that's no option for me rather than intercourse). I COULD orgasm from having my breast fondled or my nipple sucked, and, of course, now there's absolutely no feeling on that left side whatsoever. And, as I said, no matter how much lube I use, I bleed easily. It is difficult for me to come vaginally without any thrusting (something just inserted with no movement). I'm very angry and depressed about all of this. I am single. Older women are not considered, in my opinion, sexually desirable in our society as it is, and then you add looking like the bride of Frankenstein, bleeding with penetration, and feeling like this vagina belongs to a stranger since it either has no scent or has a bad scent, yes, I am angry. Nobody said anything to me about how I would change inside (vaginally, scent, etc.). I have discovered, after a talk with my gynecologist, that my vaginal pH changed from being more acidic to being more alkaline--a common occurrence in postmenopausal women (though it hadn't yet happened to me) and in those who have taken AIs. I seem to be constantly battling bacterial vaginosis. My gynecologist recommended douching with a vinegar-water solution on a regular basis, which, at first horrified me since I had always been told to never douche. Based on studies I've come across, I plan to use on a routine basis a douche that contains lactic acid (pH 3.8) (Balance Active Vaginal Gel I ordered on line from Amazon). One of the studies was:

Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Apr;117(4):922-7.
Vaginal pH-Balanced Gel for the Control of Atrophic Vaginitis Among Breast Cancer Survivors: A Randomized Controlled Trial.
Lee YK, Chung HH, Kim JW, Park NH, Song YS, Kang SB.

Has anyone else had a problem with bad side effects from a change in their vaginal pH/change in their scent? I also am really tired of trying to deal with bacterial vaginosis all the time. Again, I never had that problem when my vaginal pH was "normal" (i.e., acidic) before taking the letrozole. Also, I'm still wondering if it is safe to use something like Estring. I didn't think it was; my tumors were estrogen/progesterone positive.