Vaginal Infections

Sexual health can be a touchy subject, because there are many who are awkward about the subject. Dealing with any kind of infection or ailment that affects the genitalia can therefore be a lot more delicate. Whether or not you are uncomfortable, it is important to not neglect any infection or abnormality that affects the region. Vaginal infections are quite common in most women, and typically involve inflammation and are referred to as vaginitis. Most vaginal infections cause inflammation and other symptoms such as unpleasant odor, discharge and itching. Vaginitis can occur due to various factors and it is often difficult to diagnose the condition. Vaginal infections are usually not very serious, so try not to get too worried. At the same time it is important that you do not neglect it. There are a variety of over-the-counter medications that can help to treat vaginal infections. If over the counter medications and home remedies for vaginal infections yield no results within a few days itself, it would be advisable to seek medical attention.

Symptoms of Vaginal Infections

The most common symptoms of vaginal infections are itching and burning in and around the vagina. Vaginal discharge is also likely to occur. Some amount of vaginal discharge occurs normally in women of childbearing age. The glands in the cervix produce a secretion which travels downwards and carries the bacteria and dead vaginal cells with it. This may cause the mucus secretion to become slightly white or yellowish in color. The quantity of mucus secretion from the cervical glands varies throughout the menstrual cycle depending upon the production of estrogen. Vaginal discharge may also occur during times of stress or sexual excitement. In such cases the discharge is likely to be a clear secretion. In case there is vaginal discharge of an abnormal color along with a foul odor and changes in texture and consistency, it could be indicative of a vaginal infection.

Vaginal infections caused by bacteria or bacterial vaginosis results in white or gray discharge that has a characteristic fishlike odor. The discharge can be noticed especially after sexual intercourse. There may also be itching or burning around the vagina. It is also possible for bacterial vaginosis to produce no symptoms at all.

Another type of vaginal infection is a yeast infection. Itching along with a thick whitish discharge are the most prominent symptoms of a yeast infection. Pain during urination and sexual intercourse may also be experienced. Yeast infection can affect men as well and results in itching on the penis.

Trichomoniasis results in a greenish or gray vaginal discharge that also appears frothy in texture. There is likely to be itching, burning and irritation in and around the vagina. Strong odor from the discharge and discomfort during urination and intercourse may also occur. Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection and the symptoms are often noticed between 4 to 20 days after exposure.

A condition known as vulvodynia may result in stinging and rawness of the genitals without any infection. This condition must be treated differently from vaginal infections.

Causes of Vaginal Infections

The most common cause of vaginal infections is bacteria. Bacterial vaginosis develops when there is an imbalance in the levels of bacteria that are normally present in the vagina. Pregnant women and those who practice frequent douching may be at a higher risk of developing this infection. The use of intrauterine devices is also a risk factor. Multiple sexual partners or sexual relations with a new partner may also make a woman prone to bacterial vaginosis. Women who have never engaged in sexual intercourse are not likely to get affected. Bacterial vaginosis does not spread through swimming pools, bed linen or toilet seats.

Yeast infections are caused by the fungus known as candida albicans. It can spread to other areas of the body such as the skin and mucus membranes. In individuals with weakened immune systems, the infection could be life threatening. Yeast infections are extremely common and are not transmitted through sexual intercourse. They result when there is an excess growth of fungi in the vagina. Under normal circumstances fungal activity is kept in check by bacteria that are present, but when the balance is upset problems develop. The levels of bacteria may be affected by the intake of antibiotics. Fungal growth is likely to occur even during pregnancy or in women with diabetes. Other factors that could affect the balance of bacteria and fungi in the vagina include the use of birth control pills, use of steroids, diabetes, weak immunity, hormonal changes and use of perfumed feminine hygiene products. Fungal growth may be excessive even if there are scratches in the region. This can happen while inserting a tampon.

Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite that spreads through sexual intercourse.

Remedies for Vaginal Infections

The diagnosis of vaginal infections is usually made following analysis of vaginal cultures and urine tests. The treatment will depend upon the organism that is causing the problem. The treatment is also influenced by the type of vagintis, severity, duration and recurrence of the infection. Different types of medication may have to be prescribed for pregnant women.

Bacterial vaginosis is treated with antibiotic medications in the form of pills or topical applications. However it is possible for the infection to recur even after successful treatment. In such cases another course of antibiotic medication is then prescribed. There are also some home remedies that can help to alleviate the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. The most important step when you deal with a vaginal infection is to ensure good hygiene. It is advisable to cleanse the area frequently using a mild soap. Take care not to allow the transfer of germs from the anal area while wiping. Also avoid wearing tight jeans as this could aggravate the condition. Cotton undergarments that are comfortable will allow for circulation, limiting an excessive buildup of moisture and heat. It is also necessary to wash undergarments properly to get rid of any buildup of germs. A good way to encourage healing of a bacterial infection is to wrap a clove of garlic in cheesecloth to form a small tampon. The cloth may be tied with un-waxed dental floss. Insert this into the vagina and let it remain overnight. This may be done once every day until the infection goes away. Apple cider vinegar is another popular natural remedy for vaginal infections. Combine a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with two cups of water and add a fresh clove of garlic. Allow the solution to stand for some time and then use it for douching. Capsules of boric acid can also be inserted into the vagina to relieve symptoms of infection. However there may be some amount of burning initially.

Doctors usually prescribe anti-fungal vaginal tablets or suppositories for yeast infections. This is because oral medications are known to result in certain side effects such as nausea, stomach pain and headaches. Oral medications are also not prescribed in case of pregnant women. A popular home remedy for yeast infections is to immerse a tampon in yogurt and insert it into the vagina. This may be done twice daily until the symptoms subside. The live cultures of lactobacilli present in natural yogurt help to correct the imbalance of bacteria and fungi in the vagina. Tea tree oil is also known to help in easing symptoms of itching and irritation caused by a yeast infection. Pour a few drops of the oil on a tampon and place it inside the vagina. You can also add a tablespoon of potassium sorbate to a cup of water and allow it to dissolve. Then insert a tampon and pour the solution in so that it is absorbed by the tampon. This may be repeated for several nights until the infection clears.

Since Trichomoniasis is sometimes confused with other sexually transmitted diseases or bacterial infections, a proper diagnosis is essential. Trichomoniasis is treated with antibiotics in the form of oral medications or topical applications. Individuals affected with this condition should refrain from having sexual relations until the treatment is complete and all the symptoms are gone. Natural cures for trichomoniasis include the intake of probiotics or ‘friendly’ bacteria which are contained in yogurt and fermented foods. These are known to fight the parasites that cause trichomoniasis. Herbal remedies for trichomoniasis include the use of Echinacea which has natural immunity boosting properties. It is also anti-microbial and anti-bacterial in nature. Goldenseal too helps in destroying the bacteria which cause infection. Garlic is a powerful anti-bacterial agent and helps to fight parasites. It may be added to food or consumed in the form of tablets. Milk thistle is another popular herb which is used widely for cleansing the body of toxins. Tea tree is also beneficial in trichomoniasis and may be applied to the vagina in diluted form. It is advisable to consult a doctor before using any herbal remedies.

Diet for Vaginal Infections

There is no specific diet for vaginal infections. But making healthy changes to your daily diet can help to keep the body fit and resistant to various types of illness and infection. Include plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and fiber rich foods in the diet. Also cut down the intake of sugar as excess sugar can affect immunity. Vitamin A and vitamin E are known to help in treating trichomoniasis and multi-vitamin supplements are often prescribed by doctors. Natural yogurt is also an extremely healthy addition to your regular diet, as it can help prevent various fungal infections.

Suggestion for Vaginal Infections

In order to protect the body from vaginal infections, it is advisable to avoid using deodorant tampons or pads. If you are going to engage in any rigorous physical activity or will be out of your house for an extended period of time, it may be a good idea to carry a spare set of clothes, as remaining in sweaty or dirty clothes can worsen an infection.

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