What causes vaginal infections?
While vaginal yeast infections can be caused by one of four varieties of the Candida fungus, almost 80% of vaginal yeast infections are caused by overgrowth of Candida albicans. This growth may be caused by significant changes in the diet or the use of corticosteroids or antibiotics
Bacterial vaginosis is primarily caused by Gardnerella vaginalis or Mobiluncus, although several other bacteria may also cause the disease. Bacterial infection is mainly caused by stress or a new sexual partner which may cause a change in the vaginal flora.
Vulvitis may be caused by chemical irritation or an allergic reaction to soaps, douches, bath oils, spermicides, lubricants, scented or colored toilet paper or perfumed pads or tampons.
What are the symptoms of vaginal infections?
When the vaginal discharge emits a foul odor or is white and cottage cheese like in appearance, it may be due to a vaginal yeast infection. Vaginal yeast infections are generally caused by an overgrowth of fungal yeast cells which upset the vagina's chemical balance.
The predominant symptom of bacterial vaginosis is a fishy smelling discharge. However women with this infection may exhibit no symptoms.
If the vulva is inflamed and itches, it may be vulvitis.
How are vaginal infections diagnosed and treated?
There are various tests to diagnose vulvitis. Pelvic exams can identify most cases but if secually transmitted disease is suspected then blood tests may be administered. If vulvitis persists, a biopsy to test for malignancy may be a necessary precaution.
If a vaginal yeast infection is diagnosed your doctor may prescribe an antifungal drug such as nystatin, miconazole or clotrimazole. There are many over the counter products also available for recurring vaginal infections
For post menopausal vulvitis or bacterial vaginosis, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, estrogen suppositories or topical cream lubricants.
If the skin of the vulva is thick and has developed white patches, this may indicate a condition called lichen sclerosis or cancer of the vulva. An abnormal discharge, bleeding and/or firm lesion on any part of the vagina may indicate vaginal cancer. Such conditions warrant immediate attention from your physician.
Prevention and Natural Remedies for vaginal infections
- Stop using products that can irritate the vagina such as soaps, sprays, perfumes either directly or through products such as spermicides, tampons, pads, douches and toilet paper. These can cause allergies or sensitivity.
- Always wipe from front to back to avoid infection from any organisms present in fecal matter.
- Monitor your sugar levels as excess sugar may cause yeast infections
- Eat yogurt containing live cultures.
- You can also apply yogurt to the vagina. Sometimes however this can worsen the situation.
- Include garlic in your diet as it has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties
- Wear cotton panties and avoid panty hose and tight clothing. This will aid in keeping the vagina cool and dry.
- Sit in a warm bath in which salt has been added.
- You can try herbal blends that applied topically can provide soothing relief.
V-gel from Himalaya Herbals contains 9 herbs that are combined in an ayurvedic formula that helps to soothe itchiness, restores pH balance and relieves dryness.
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