Vaginal Infections 101 — What You Need To Know About That Itch
Worried that there’s something funky going on down there?
Being a woman certainly has its benefits but some aspects of womanhood are far from glamorous, in fact they are down right unpleasant. Bothersome vaginal infections are high on the list, with about a third of women being affected at some point during their lifetime.
Gynaecologist and Lactacyd spokesperson, Dr Lizelle Nortje sheds some light on the topic….
What Are Vaginal Infections Exactly?
It’s a broad term for a number of feminine conditions, the three most prevalent types are:
• Bacterial Vaginosis (BV); presents with thin, increased, smelly (fishy odour) discharge. This is the most common cause of vaginal infections, accounting for 50% of cases.
• Candidiasis (yeast infection commonly known as thrush); presents with white clumpy discharge and inflammation with symptoms such as itching, redness and/or burning of the intimate area.
• Trichomoniasis (a parasite affecting both women and men, it’s a STI); presents with discoloured, smelly (fishy odour) and increased discharge as well as inflammation with redness and swelling of the vagina.
It’s also quite common to have a mixed infection, which may not be identifiable by one’s discharge.
What Causes It?
Well, it’s complicated; there are many factors that have an impact on our feminine health. Bacterial Vaginosis is caused by a change or imbalance in the types of bacteria normally found in the vagina. Candidiasis is caused by an overgrowth of normal fungi in the vagina and can cause more serious systemic infections in people with a compromised immune system, such as pregnant or HIV positive women.
Some Common Triggers Include…
• Antibiotics as they destroy healthy bacteria that prevent an overgrowth of yeast.
• Allergies to detergents and fabric softeners.
• Hormonal changes that may be brought on by menopause, pregnancy or ovulation.
• Diabetes, the condition alters the body’s sugar content and therefore the pH is altered.
Some Tips To Help Prevent Vaginal Infections Are
• Wash with a good feminine hygiene wash like Lactacyd, which is pH-balanced to match the pH of a healthy adult woman’s vagina, on a daily basis.
• Stay, healthy, eat well, get enough sleep and drink enough fluids.
• Do not douche, it disrupts the natural balance of bacteria and fungi and alters the pH of your vagina.
• Keep your intimate area clean and dry.
• Wipe from front to back after urination and bowel movement.
• Wear cotton underwear.
• Avoid using deodorised pads and tampons.
• Don’t use petroleum jelly or other oils for lubricants.
• Avoid sexual intercourse until the treatment is completed and you are free of symptoms.
Also, give your body regular breaks from tight clothing; choose natural fabrics over synthetic ones, especially when it comes to underwear; and avoid perfumed feminine sprays.
When Should You See A Doctor?
Bacterial Vaginosis and Trichomoniasis only respond to antibiotics so you will need to pay your doctor a visit if you suspect one or the other. Pregnant women should always consult with their doctor for treatment as vaginal infections can cause complications in pregnancy if left untreated. You should also see a doctor if you have excessive pain or vomiting and fever. If the infection is recurrent you will need to see a doctor to ensure you are getting the right treatment.