Nearly 75% of women will get a vaginal infection at least once in their lifetime. Find out what are the causes, symptoms and treatment options for vaginal infections.
Vaginal yeast infections are commonly caused by the fungi Candida albicans, which are organisms that live in small numbers inside the vagina. Under normal conditions, the vagina flora is acidic, as the lactobacilli bacteria helps to maintain a certain level of acidity. However, when the vagina becomes less acidic, the yeast can over grow and hence cause a yeast infection.
While yeast infections are considered normal as 3 out of 4 women will experience an infection at least once in their lifetimes, it is essential that you know how to identify the symptoms as well as learn how to prevent it.
Most women notice a yellow or white discharge that is dried on their underwear. This is the fluid that helps clean and moisten the vagina – it is completely healthy and normal if the discharge is cloudy or has a slight odor and may increase in amount and become stringy during ovulation.
However when you notice changes from your regular discharge, it may be a vital sign of an infection. The discharge will usually be accompanied with a foul genital odor and a thick consistency that resembles the appearance of cottage cheese.
When you have a case of bacterial vaginosis, which is another common type of vaginal infection, the discharge tends to be coloured (yellow, gray or greenish) and also has an unpleasant fishy smell.
Other symptoms include burning sensation during urination, swelling of the vulva, itching around the vulval area and pain or vaginal discomfort during sexual intercourse.
Treatments For Vaginal Infections
Treatment of vaginal infections typically involves five to seven days of antibiotics that are either taken orally or inserted into the vagina. Oral metronidazole is the best and most effect medication to treat infections. It is also available in a gel form, called Metrogel. If you happen to be allergic to metronidazole, do inform your doctor so that he/she can prescribe other types of antibiotics that are as effective.
Although it is mostly necessary to treat only females, some doctors may recommend to also treating the male sexual partner if the female becomes re-infected after completing her medication and resuming intercourse. It is essential that the patient complete the course of antibiotics as prescribed by the doctor to lower the risk of a re-infection.
There are also some home remedies that one can try to treat vaginal infections – using boric acid suppositories, applying tea tree oil to the vaginal area and consuming probiotic acidophilus supplements that promote the growth of Lactobacilli bacteria to kill the yeast.
Tips To Prevent and Avoid Future Vaginal Infections
Here are several tips to prevent future vaginal infections:
- Avoid using perfumed soaps, bubble bath, scented tampons, vaginal powders or vaginal deodorant sprays. Keep your vagina clean by washing with mild, unscented soap.
- Do not use coloured or scented toilet paper.
- Avoid wearing tight or damp clothing as this can keep the moisture in and irritate your genital area. Do not wear nylon or lycra underwear.
- If you are using birth control methods like diaphragms or cervical caps, make sure they are clean and dry before using them.
- Avoid douching as this washes out the good bacteria that keeping the acidity of the vagina in check.
- Always practice safe sex – use a condom.
- Eat healthily and have a balanced diet, especially, drink more water and having lots of fresh fruits that are known antioxidants such as apple, cranberry and prune help to keep the vagina flushed of bacteria and other contaminants.
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