What is vaginitis?
Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina that can cause discharge, itching, and pain. It is very common, can affect women of any age, and often results from irritation, infection, or hormonal imbalances. Although there are many types of bacteria and yeast normally present in your vagina, an excessive amount can cause vaginitis. The three most common forms of vaginitis (in order from most to least common) is a yeast infection, caused by the yeast Candida albicans, vaginitis caused by the Gardnerella bacteria, and vaginitis caused by the parasite Trichomoniasis. All three forms of vaginitis can be transmitted during sexual intercourse, but only Trichomoniasis is considered a sexually transmitted disease. Hormonal imbalances, such as those that occur during menopause, can cause your vagina to be become dry and may lead to itching, burning or pain. Some soaps, vaginal contraceptives, feminine sprays and perfumes may also irritate your vagina.
Signs and symptoms vary, depending on your type of infection. Light vaginal bleeding, pain during intercourse, vaginal irritation and change in the odor and discharge from your vagina are all common. Yeast infection may accompany a thick, white discharge that resembles cottage cheese, while bacterial vaginitis typically causes a grayish-white, fishy-smelling discharge. Trichomoniasis causes a greenish-yellow, sometimes frothy discharge.
The risk factors vary as well, depending on your type of infection:
- hormonal changes, such as with pregnancy
- medications, especially steroids, birth control pills, and antibiotics
- lack of sleep
- uncontrolled diabetes
- compromised immune system, as with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, or chemotherapy for cancer
- wearing damp or tight-fitting clothing
- using certain feminine products
- using an intrauterine device (IUD)
- having multiple sex partners
- sexual contact with someone already infected
Once diagnosed with vaginitis, your doctor will recommend medication specific to the type of infection that you present with. For example, yeast infection usually calls for anti-fungal creams or suppositories, although there is an oral medication available by prescription. Bacterial vaginitis is usually treated with metronidazole or clindamycin, the latter drug also being used to treat Trichomoniasis. If you are going through menopause and are suffering from vaginitis, your doctor may prescribe an estrogen cream, although the estrogen will get into your blood stream and can cause other problems, such as breast cancer in some instances.
How can natural medicine help prevent vaginitis?
Natural therapy can help you prevent vaginitis. Diet modification, such as eliminating sugar from your diet, can help a great deal. Acupuncture and TCM can help boost your immune system and also balance your hormonal levels. Yoga and massage therapy can help you reduce stress.
Contact us for a FREE consultation on how natural therapy can help you prevent vaginitis.
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