Vaginitis

Description

Vaginitis is the most common infection of the female reproductive tract, affecting most women at some point in their lives. There are three major types of infections that can cause vaginitis: vaginal candidiasis (fungal, or yeast infection), trihchomoniasis (a form of parasitic infection), and bacterial vaginosis.

Sexual activity is not the only way to pick up one of these organisms. Candida is found normally in the vagina but under certain circumstances this fungus grows out of control, causing symptoms.

Predisposing factors include use of antibiotics, oral contraceptives, diabetes, pregnancy, use of feminine hygiene products.

Trichomoniasis is caused by Thchomonas, a parasite that is transmitted through sexual activity, but it also more common during pregnancy and after menopause. In this condition, the vaginal discharge is usually white, grayish-green, or yellow, and offen appears shortly after a menstural period. Menstrual blood raises the vaginal pH, which creates an ideal environment for Trichomonas to grow. Itching is usually intense.

Bacterial vaginosis is usually caused by a bacteria called Gardnerella vaginalis. It differs from Candia and trichomoniasis in that there is usually little or no inflammation of the vagina and no accompanying symptoms. Bacterial vaginosis is more common during pregnancy, lactation, and in women using an IUD, and like the other causes of vaginitis, is associated with sexual activity.

Symptoms

  • May be asymptomatic
  • Any change in vaginal discharge (change in color, volume, odor)
  • Itching, irritation, or burning sensation
  • Pain on urination or during intercourse (in some cases)
  • Vaginal bleeding (in some cases)
  • Thick, cheesy, white to off-white discharge (yeast infection)
  • White, grayish-green, or yellow, sometimes frothy discharge (trichomoniasis)
  • White, gray, or yellowish discharge with fishy odor (bacterial infection)

Medical Treatment

If you suspect vaginitis, see your gynecologist, who can make a diagnosis based on the characteristics of the discharge. Your doctor performs a pelvic examination and a Pap smear (if you have not had one in the past year) and collects and examines a sample of the discharge to detect the presence of one of the organisms described.

Bacterial vaginosis is treated with metronidazole or clindamycin either orally or in the form of vaginal suppositories.

Alternative Treatments

Vaginitis may be caused by a number of things including bacterial or fungal infection. To be safe, eat a diet that is fruit-free, sugar-free, and yeast-free. Avoid aged cheeses, alcohol, chocolate, dried fruits, fermented foods, all grains containing gluten (wheat, oats, rye, and barley), ham, honey, nut butters, pickles, raw mushrooms, soy sauce, sprouts, and vinegar. In addition, eliminate citrus and acidic fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons, tomatoes, pineapple, and limes) from your diet until inflammation subsides. Then reintroduce them slowly.

Eat plain yogurt that contains live yogurt cultures. (You can even apply it directly to the vagina.) This fights infection and soothes inflammation. Eating brown rice and taking prodophilus supplements helps also.

Nutritionists recommend these daily supplements to relieve discomfort:

  • a prodophilus formula
  • biotin
  • vitamin B complex
  • colloidal silver
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin C

Aromatherapy

Add several drops of one of the following essential oils to a warm bath for soothing relief from itching: German chamomile, tea tree, or myrrh.

Ayurvedic Medicine

To manage vaginitis Ayurvedic practitioners may advise avoiding fermented foods, such as cheese and yeast breads, using a douche of mugwort, and taking the combination formula Septilin.

Remember to consult your doctor before embarking on any new regimen; vaginitis can be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as a sexually transmitted disease.

Chinese Herbal Therapy If vaginitis is caused by a yeast infection, the herbs sandalwood, garlic, and cnidium monnieri may help.

Rehmannia Eight, Gentiana, and Tang Gui and Ginseng Eight are Chinese combination formulas that also may be prescribed to remedy the symptoms of vaginitis.

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