Vaginal infections vaginitis, or inflammation of the vagina are fairly common and the tendency to treat by self-medicating is also on the rise these days, with medicines being made available at the click of a button and Google being at everyone’s beck and call. Maybe it has to do with the stigma of not being able to talk about this openly or maybe it is plain shyness. If the self-treating involves natural remedies or dietary changes, it is quite fine but you have to draw the line when it comes to medicines even the topical ones. And especially if the infection is happening for the first time, a doctor should be consulted for a proper diagnosis. Research has shown that two in three women who purchase antifungal medicine for a probable yeast infection don’t actually have one. In cases like this the body may become more resistant to antifungal medication when used without a yeast infection, which can in turn make it difficult to get rid of a yeast infection in the future. The treatment for a yeast infection won’t cure a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or bacterial vaginosis and hence it is important to diagnose correctly to avoid unforeseen complications.
Some women are more prone to vaginal infections than others for reasons unknown. A healthy vagina does in fact have some bacteria and yeast as well without this being an infection. It is when the natural vaginal ecosystem or PH levels gets upset that this turn into the bacteria and yeast overgrowing. Some of the top causes that could lead to vaginal infections include douching, or rinsing the vagina with water or other liquid, certain female hormone level changes, post antibiotics usage, vaginal intercourse or even pregnancy and breastfeeding. Most of these could perhaps be unavoidable but douching is definitely unnecessary and potentially harmful. Some of the commonly seen symptoms of vaginal infection are pain, burning, itching, vaginal discharge or unpleasant odour but it is necessary to know what type of vaginal infection you have. The treatments often vary based on the condition,
Certain vaginal infections are caused by sexually transmitted diseases like Trichomoniasis, Chlamydia Vaginitis, Viral Vaginitis or Gonorrhoea but there are other very common ones that are not transmitted sexually. Let’s look at a few of the common infections;
Yeast Infection – The most common vaginal infection is the yeast infection that is caused by a type of fungus called candida. Candida is something that is already found in the body in small numbers but it is when they multiply that an infection occurs. Hormone level changes due to pregnancy, birth control pills, or menstruation are a few conditions that raise the risk of vaginal yeast infections. Cottage cheese like thick discharge, vaginal itching and redness of the vulva and vagina are the common symptoms.
Bacterial Vaginosis – Bacterial vaginosis is when the usually harmless lactobacilli that live in the vagina goes down much below the normal levels. This friendly bacterium then gets replaced by infection causing bacteria called Gardnerella. Thick or whitish discharge or a fishy odour after intercourse are the signs.
Vulvodynia – Pain or discomfort of the vulva without a known cause. The constant or occasional symptoms are similar to vaginal infections like burning, stinging, rawness, soreness, and swelling.
Non-infectious Vaginitis – This happens when the skin around the vagina becomes sensitive to an irritant like scented tampons, perfumed soaps, or fabric softeners. Another form of non-infectious vaginitis is atrophic vaginitis that happens when female hormone levels decrease as menopause approaches.
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