Vaginal infections, at times referred to as vaginitis, are some of the worst infections any female can ever suffer. They not only come with a lot of itching and irritation but also affect the female's social as well as sexual life. Many women suffering from these infections have kept to themselves in the fear of embarrassing themselves. All they do is resort to over-the-counter medications that only deal with the symptoms rather that the root causes. Vaginal infections will often result when the vaginal ecosystem is disrupted by external factors such as hormones, contraceptives and antibiotics. Despite being a very common condition, very few women know what to do when they develop an infection.
There are three major vaginal infections that a woman can suffer. These are bacterial vaginosis, vaginal yeast infection and trichomoniasis. Up to 70% of the affected women try to treat these conditions on their own before resorting to medical help, research has shown. Unfortunately, in as much as their signs and symptoms are similar, the treatments for the three conditions are quite varied. This means that before you start administering any home remedy, you will have to be more that sure you know what you are treating. The good news is that you do not need to take a medical course to help yourself out. By the time you are done reading this guide, you will be equipped with methods of not only treating current vaginal infections but also preventing any future ones.
Causes of Vaginal Infection
The fact that vaginal infections have nearly the same symptoms but differ in treatment has left a lot of women confused. However, things will be much clearer is you consider the causes of these three major vaginal infections. The study of the causes of vaginal infections will therefore be broken down to the three different infections. Bacterial vaginosis, commonly abbreviated as BV, is unarguably the most common cause of vaginal infections. It is usually caused by:
- Changes in bacterial types: Any slight changes or imbalances regarding the types of bacteria that reside within the vagina could lead to bacterial vaginosis. This is because the changes often result in the overgrowth of organisms like Gardnerella vaginalis.
- Pregnancy: In the United States alone, up to 16% of expectant mothers suffer from this vaginal infection. The prevalence varies according to race and is highest in African Americans. Pregnancy is seen as a key trigger since it causes radical changes to the hormonal balance in the female reproductive system.
- Sexual activity: It has been noted that women who are very active sexually or have multiple sexual partners are more susceptible. One the other hand, women who have never had sex a rarely affected by BV.
Vaginal yeast infections are caused by:
- Fungus: The main fungus that causes yeast infections is Candida albicans. This particular infection can therefore be referred to as candidiasis, vulvovaginal candidiasis or genital candidiasis. The yeast infection can then spread to other body parts such as the skin, heart valves, mucous membranes and the esophagus. For people with weakened immune systems, it could be a life threatening condition.
- Overgrowth: Yeast infections could also occur when normally occurring fungi in the vagina overgrow. Such growth results when the balance of microorganisms within the vagina is disrupted.
- Wearing very tight underwear, scratching the vagina and using douches could also increase the risk of getting this vaginal infection.
Trichomoniasis on the other hand is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by a parasite known as Trichomonas vaginalis. Primary, it affects the genital and urinary tract but most infects the vagina in women.
Symptoms of Vaginal Infections
Some of the common symptoms for vaginal infections include itching, burning and vaginal discharge. However, it is the color and smell of the vaginal discharge that could help you distinguish between the different infections. Here is a more in-depth look into some of these symptoms:
- Bacterial vaginosis: This infection results in abnormal vaginal discharge with a foul smell. Other women have reported a very strong fish-like odor, especially after having sex. The discharge is usually thin and could be gray or white in color. This is accompanied by intense itching and painful urination.
- Yeast infections: These often itchy infections are associated with a thick, white-gray discharge. You could also experience pain during urination and itching around your genitals.
- Trichomoniasis: This causes a frothy, green-yellow or gray vaginal discharge. It also results in burning during urination and irritation of the genitals.
Home Remedies for Vaginal Infections
The causes and symptoms of vaginal infections can be very confusing. However, you will have to master them before you can even think of treating the conditions. Doctors have come up with several treatments for these conditions. The diagnosis will usually comprise of several urine tests just to confirm which particular infection you are suffering from. Treatment will also vary depending on the duration and severity of infection. Other conditions such as pregnancy could also be taken into consideration. However, it is not always that you will be able to access medical care. This is exactly where home remedies will come in handy. Remember, you should always consult with your physician in order to get a proper diagnosis and before trying to incorporate these home remedies yourself!
- Vaginal creams- You can purchase a number of vaginal creams or suppositories as part of your home remedy for vaginal infections. The creams can be applied inside the vagina using a plunger like applicator. You should only use one cream everyday for about one week. If you purchase a stronger dose, one to three days should be enough to do away with the symptoms. Women suffering from yeast infections for instance can use miconazole or butoconazole for this purpose. Depending on the instructions provided, massage the above medications into your vagina and wait for the effect after a week.
- Probiotics- Probiotics is a term used to refer to live microorganisms that occur naturally in the gut as well as vagina. They are often referred to as friendly bacteria since they help in maintaining a proper balance inside the vagina. Their presence suppresses the development of harmful organisms such as Candida. This means that you could take nonprescription probiotic supplements as a home remedy for vaginal infections.
- Avoid vinegar douches- Many women use douches to clean during their menstrual periods, something that doctors have never recommended. This is probably because the vagina should naturally clean itself so as to avoid any disruptions. Douching usually removes the healthy bacteria that reside on the vaginal walls. Do not attempt any form of cleaning 24 hours before seeing a qualified medical practitioner.
- Boric Acid- Boric acid is another natural remedy for vaginal infections that ladies can try out. This is due to the fact that the chemical substance boasts both antifungal and antiseptic properties. In a study conducted in Italy, 22 women suffering from yeast infections responded better to boric acid treatment than others who were on the antifungal drug itraconazole.
- Tea Tree Oil- If the above home remedies are nowhere within your reach, there is no reason to panic. Tea tree oil can be diluted and topically applied around the vaginal area as a potential home remedy for vaginal infections. The treatment properties are believed to be a result of the presence of a compound known as terpinen-4-ol. However, more research is still being done to ascertain these claims.
- Echinacea– Echinacea is herb that helps to boost the body’s immune system by increasing the activity of the white blood cells. Those that are suffering from yeast infections are recommended to take the herb. The herb also prevents the frequency at which vaginal infections occur. The herb can be added to tea or it can be added to a cup of hot water. The extract can be taken for up to ten days everyday in does of 2ml or 3ml.
- Garlic– Garlic on the other hand has antifungal and bacterial properties which can help to fight off vaginal infections. Garlic is widely available and can be taken in powder pr ginger form. The dried cloves can also be used. One can acquire the most benefits by using the standardized extracts.
- Ginger- Ginger is also effective in fighting off vaginal infections that cause bad vaginal odor. The ginger can be applied to the vaginal area after making a thick paste of fresh ginger. Alternatively, you can wrap gauze with ginger and insert it into the vagina. It should be replaced after every six hours until the smell completely goes away.
- Pomegranate- Pomegranate has the ability to reduce yeast infections due to its properties to fight off infections in the body. It significantly reduces the presence of yeast cells in the body thanks to its anti fungal properties. The efficacy of the herb was studies through the use of a topical gel extracted from the fruit
Diet for Vaginal Infections
Diet has always played a major role when it comes to treatment as well as prevention of medical conditions. The story isn't any different when it comes to vaginal infections. The best foods to help you heal or avoid these infections are those with fungicidal and bactericidal properties. Such foods prevent the development of or even eliminate the bacteria and fungi that cause infections. They include:
- Foods with vitamin B: Foods such as veal, pork and chicken, eggs and whole grains will help you prevent infections.
- Foods with zinc: Zinc often boosts the immune system, helping it to fight infections.
- Foods with iron: A shortage of iron always results in fungal infections.
- Yoghurt with lactobacillus: This helps to restore the natural flora while preventing the growth of other harmful microorganisms.
Prevention of Vaginal Infections
Vaginal infections will not only disrupt your day to day life but are also very difficult to treat. The best thing you can do for yourself is to find ways of ensuring you aren't infected. The good news is that there are many things you can do to keep vaginal infections at bay. These include:
- Keeping the vagina dry: It is very important that women keep their vaginal areas dry, especially after a shower or after urinating. Some women use powders after showering to make sure the vaginal region remains dry.
- Avoid pants: If you can avoid wearing underpants then the better for your vagina. This is because pants often trap vaginal discharge such that it continues to irritate the vagina for a longer time.
- Avoid douching: There is absolutely nothing wrong with cleaning the outside of the vagina. However, most women aren't aware of the fact that douching does more harm than good. Most douching products have chemicals that actually cause irritation inside the vagina.
You will also need to lead a healthy lifestyle – eating healthy and working out – to keep vaginal infections out of your life.
95 total views, 1 views today