If you ever thought that the embarrassing smell, irritable itching and terrible discoloration that occurred on your private parts was solely your problem alone – think again.
The fact is, you’re not alone when it comes to vaginal infections, according to the Illinois Department of Health, millions of women experience the same terrible ordeal too. Those same numbers of women are also looking for a relief to their problem and those same women are getting rid of it.
This article was carefully written to show you that you are not alone and that the unsurprisingly common ordeal of vaginitis is not always a bad thing. That in fact, it’s just your body’s way of telling you that something is changing, that something is wrong or maybe even that everything is functionally just about right. It’s important to understand the vagina, that way when there is constant itching, redness or inflammation you know exactly how to treat yourself.
What is a Healthy Vagina?
Your vagina is an amazing, self-sustaining organ that has its own environment for protection and maintenance. The University of Richmond says it is normal for the pH balance of your vagina to be acidic; this discourages any infections from occurring. A healthy vagina will also produce secretions to cleanse and regulate itself, similar to the function of saliva in the mouth. The environment maintained in the vagina is extremely sensitive, so any interference with the delicate balance of vaginal secretions sets it up to be susceptible to infection.
Vaginal discharge is also a normal part of the vagina. Normal discharge is generally clear, cloudy white, or yellowish when it appears on clothing. It can also contain white flecks and be thin and stringy. Normal discharge can changes due to factors such as menstrual cycle, emotional stress, nutritional health, bring pregnant, sexual arousal and the usage of medications like antibiotics and birth control pills.
Recognizing Abnormalities in the Vagina
The first sign of trouble when it comes to vaginitis lies in your discharge. Distortions in vaginal discharge may happen if the balance of healthy bacteria in your vagina is disturbed. Many factors can cause this imbalance, including the usage of feminine hygiene products, soaps, bubble baths, antibiotics, poor health, periods of ovulation, pre and post pregnancy, menopause or infections. The way your discharge is expelled from the vagina is or your best indicator. Because it is the first display of changes in your vagina, it’s with good reason to distinguish normal discharge and abnormal discharge; it could be the very factor that stops an infection from spreading or becoming worse.
There are of course instances where abnormalities in the vagina can mean nothing or be from something benign. If not an infection, then what can be the causing an itchy vagina? Minor factors such as shaving or trimming your hair, wearing tight clothing or applying a perfumed cream or lotion around the area are all perpetrators. Itchiness can also be accompanied by minor superficial infections such as jock itch, ringworm or an allergic reaction.
The next time you feel as if you’re vagina might be functioning unusually, consider the following symptoms to properly assess a potential infection:
• Abnormal Discharge
• Itching, redness, soreness or burning sensation (not always accompanied by discharge)
• Persistent or increased discharge
• Burning sensation during urination
• Discharge with the consistency of cottage cheese
• Grey/White or Yellow/Green discharge accompanied by a foul odor
If you experience any of the following symptoms, it’s in your best interest to visit your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis.
Determining Your Vaginal Infection
Did you know that according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as many as one third of women will have symptoms of vaginitis sometime during their lives? Vaginitis affects women of all ages and is most common during reproductive phases. Vaginitis is clinically recognized as any condition that causes infection or inflammation of the vagina. These conditions are usually a result of infection from organisms such as bacteria, yeast or viruses, as well as irritation from chemicals, creams, sprays or even clothing that comes with the area. Medically speaking, there are three common types of vaginal infections that a woman can encounter in her lifetime, these infections are:
Bacterial vaginosis, a mild infection of the vagina, is the most common type of vaginal infection. It’s not usual for women to experience this type of infection more than once in their lives as it is caused by a bacterial imbalance in the genitalia. In the vagina, it’s normal to find a lot of “good” and “bad” bacteria, where the “good” types monitor and maintain the growth of the bad types. When there is an upset balance, good bacteria become overwhelmed by the bad bacteria and as a result, bacterial vaginosis occurs.
This infection is recognized as a mild problem and typically resolves itself in a few days. However, if not monitored or properly addressed, bacterial vaginosis can lead to more serious problems.
The cause for an imbalance in bacteria is not completely known, but experts agree that certain activities can make it more likely to happen. Actions such as having more than one sexual partner, smoking and douching often increase the likelihood of a decrease in good bacteria, so it’s in your best interest to acknowledge these causation factors and modify your lifestyle accordingly.
Recognizing bacterial vaginosis is fairly easy. The most common and primary symptom is smelly vaginal discharge. The discharge often looks off grey or yellow and most women report having a noticeably “fishy” smell down in their vagina that is especially repugnant after sex. It is also common for women to not notice any symptoms when it comes to bacteria vaginosis, this could mean that the infection is mild to non-evasive.
If you are afflicted with bacterial vaginosis, it’s best to monitor and seek medical attention if the case becomes worse. While it is not common for bacterial vaginosis to cause other health problems, serious cases can lead to problems such as increasing the risk of a miscarriage, pelvic infection, or susceptibility to a sexually transmitted infection. For severe cases, most doctors will prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial vaginosis and while they usually work, they can lead to a few negative side affections such as succumbing to a vaginal yeast infection.
Vaginal Yeast Infection
According to the UC San Diego, about 75% of women will have a vaginal yeast infection at least once in their life and most of those times, it won’t be their fault. Yeast infections (about 80% – 90%) are caused by Candida Albicans, a fungus that thrives in the digestive tract, mucous membranes (found in the vagina, mouth and nose) and skin. Normally, this yeast is kept under control by the healthy bacteria in your body, but when the yeast grows too quickly an infection more than likely to occur.
Vaginal Yeast Infection is surprisingly common for women because of the many factors that can cause it. As mentioned before, bacterial vaginosis is an underlying culprit due to the poor balance of bacteria that is healthy in the vagina as well as the usage of antibiotics. Many women who suffer from vaginal yeast infection become afflicted after using medications such as antibiotics and steroids, so make sure to consider this risk before taking medical treatments. Many other things raise the risk of a yeast infection, and that includes stress, lack of sleep, illness or disease, poor eating habits (specifically high in sugary foods), before and after pregnancy, diabetes, your period/menstrual cycle, and hormonal changes.
Unlike other vaginal infections, a yeast infection is not always accompanied by an abnormal discharge. Many women have experienced an unbearable itching and soreness around their vagina and vulva when infected with yeast and because it is unaccompanied by discharge they are often confused with a self-diagnosis. While not always certain, it’s best to test for a yeast infection if intolerable itching occurs for more than three days or is persistent during the night; it will save you the worry and hassle if you get tested sooner than later. Aside from itching, extreme redness and tenderness around the vagina can occur as well as pain when passing urine, pain during sex, soreness, a cottage cheese like discharge with no odor, and a rash on the vagina. Every woman is different and many women will experience different symptoms when it comes to yeast infection, so don’t expect to have the same symptoms as a friend or someone over the internet because every woman reacts differently to this infection.
Treatment of a vaginal yeast infection is always better to do sooner than later. For many women the experience can be agonizing both physically and mentally and if left untreated, the yeast will only continue to grow and cause more pain. When treating a yeast infection, you will more than likely be prescribed anti-fungal creams, tablets or ointments that are applied topically or ingested. While these are the most common forms of treatment, it is being discovered that the Candida Albicans is becoming resistant to the medications. That’s why it’s best to proceed with treatment with caution and if possible find alternative methods to dissipate the Candida growth.
Trichomoniasis is the most common curable STD in young sexually active women, it’s estimated that about 7.4 million cases occur every year. Trichomonas vaginalis is the small organism which causes Trichomoniasis. The disease can affect both men and women, but usually the latter get caught at the bad end of the stick. Because the infection is transmitted sexually, it’s smart to have your partner tested before committing to an intimate relationship. Most men do not exhibit symptoms of trichomoniasis and therefore are unaware of an infection until they infect their partner.
When afflicted with trichomoniasis, woman can exhibit symptoms in their vagina such as a green-yellow, strong smelling frothy discharge, painful urination, irritation accompanies with itching, pain or discomfort during intercourse and (very rarely) lower abdominal pain.
Trichomoniasis is a curable STD that requires an oral antibiotic, metronidazole (Flagyl). If your partner is the cause of infection, they should be treated as well to prevent any chance of reinfection. Additionally, it should be common sense that all forms of sexual activity should be avoided until the treatment is complete and the disease has been ridden of, completing your antibiotics is important, even if you think you feel better.
Prevention is Key
If you have come this far, then you’re already familiar with the susceptibility and sensitivity of your vagina. You also know that while most of your infections can be treated by antibiotics, it’s not necessarily the route that you want to take for the restoration of your vagina’s health. Using home remedies for a healthy vagina is – for the most part – practical and easy. It’s simply a matter of eating the right foods, wearing the right clothes and overall treating your vagina as you would the rest of your body – that is not introducing it to harmful or irritating chemicals. Here are some helpful and important habits you should consider when it comes to your vaginal health:
Practice Proper Hygiene
Cleanliness of the vagina and the surrounding area is a vital step to preventing infections. In fact, proper hygienic practices cut your chances of succumbing to infection by more than half. When cleaning the vagina use warm water and non-perfumed soaps, shower gels or deodorants around the area, instead opt for mild soaps such as Dove or Ivory. The chemicals in perfumed products are harmful to the vagina and can easily upset your levels of good bacteria as well as cause skin irritation on or around your vulva. Additionally, when cleansing the area – be gentle – you’re only rinsing off the area of any superficial buildup, the rest of the vagina generally cleans itself.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, your vagina is a self-sustaining organ and one of the items on the top of its “to-do” list is cleaning. The vagina performs the necessary self-cleaning activities to maintain the environment within it. The waste and unwanted objects in your object is usually exhumed in the form of discharge or other vaginal secretions and this is perfectly normally. That means You Do Not Need to Wash the INSIDE of the Vagina. Most women have developed the mentally that this routine cleaning is unwanted, or don’t even know that the vagina cleans itself. If not that, then they mistake the symptoms of an infection for an unclean vagina and proceed to use a douche. Douches are potentially one the worst things you can ever introduce to your vagina and that is because you are forcibly insert chemicals directly into the vagina. Not only can this cause superficial damage, but the douche can upset the balance of good bacteria as well as exacerbate any infection you already have. Douching is also completely unnecessary because the vagina handles the task of cleaning on its own, instead opt to practice proper hygiene habits and your lady parts will be very thankful.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
For once, trading in those skinny jeans for baggy sweats might pay off. Wearing loose clothing is unsurprisingly more preferred for your vagina than tight or form fitting clothing. This is because tight clothing generally leaves little room for your vagina to breathe and stimulates the products of sweat that begins to accumulate in the area; this creates a preferred environment for fungus such as Candida Albicans to grow. Additionally, when purchasing underwear always opt for garments that are 100% cotton or bamboo. These materials are the most breathable and most forgiving on your lady parts.
Maintain a Healthy and Clean Diet
Eating well affects most if not all aspects of your health. Your vagina doesn’t always display the effects of food, but when it does, it’s usually bad. The embarrassing and devastating yeast infection is usually caused or exacerbated by a poor diet. Eating for a healthy vagina is very simple, all you need to do is stay away from sugars, processed foods and foods high in starch and the environment in your vagina is least likely to be compromised. The reason it’s necessary to stay away from sugars and starches is because the aforementioned are the primary sources of food for fungus and parasites that reside in your vagina. On average, women with diets high in sugar and starch have been diagnosed with yeast infection, more so than their counter parts. Eating clean foods can also help improve the smell of your vagina, especially if you’re prone to strong, unwanted odors. Fruits, nuts, vegetables and water should be the primary items in your diet for a healthy vagina.
Make Probiotics a Part of Your Life
There is a lot of hype in the market for probiotics and despite all skepticism; this is for a very good reason. As you already know the vagina is teeming with two types of bacteria: good and bad. The bad bacteria are usually kept at bay by good bacteria that regulate and maintain the health of your vagina. Of course, if we lived in a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to be so worry about the bacteria balances of our vagina. But because we lives where we encounter a lot of stress, chemicals in our foods and water, and pollutants in the air, the good bacteria in your body is susceptible to being thrown out of sync very easily. When this happens the good bacteria in your body is usually the first thing to be affected and in turn the bad bacteria begin to take a stronghold in your vagina. This is why probiotics is the most effective home remedy for a healthy vagina. Live and active cultures (probiotics) are responsible for maintaining your vagina’s slightly acidic pH levels and by maintaining a healthy amount in your body, you can help stave away infection. Many food products have probiotics added into their ingredients list, such as yogurts and kefir – however recent studies have reported that these foods are actually very low in probiotics due to its high sugar content. In fact, most foods that claim to be high in probiotics are the exact opposite. That’s why you’re better off consuming probiotics via a capsule or pill. There are a variety of probiotic supplements available on the market, but few are of the appropriate quality and efficiency for optimal bacteria balances, we recommend Probacto for its high quality ingredients and proven effectiveness.
Use Protection and Practice Smart Sex
No matter what age or how experienced you might be, appropriate behavior during sex is essential to maintaining your vagina’s health. Women are unfortunate to be the most affected when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases and infections, just because of the nature of our sexual organ. Because of this, it’s always wise to use protection, such as condoms, when engaging with new or multiple sexual partners; even if individuals are tested it’s always smarter to take the safe route. Even though your vagina can be forgiving, there are some things that it may never recover from. Additionally, if you or your partner are experiencing any signs of infection, cease all sexual activity immediately and only continue once an infection clears or has been treated completely. Many women suffer poor sexual lives due to poor vaginal health and unprotected sex so be sure to be smart about how you and you let others treat your lady parts.
Good vaginal health has several components to it. As we have seen in this article, probiotics (bacteria balances) and proper hygiene are essential to your vagina’s health. Because bacteria play such a huge role in your vagina’s effectiveness, it’s important to maintain a diet and lifestyle that promotes healthy bacteria.
Equally important is the overall cleanliness and care of your vagina. Damage to your vagina, whether it is superficial or chemical will affect you: physically, mentally and sexually. Douching, unsafe sexual practices and poor hygiene will affect your vagina in a negative way. This will upset your vagina’s sensitive environment leading to a whole host of health and wellness concerns.
So remember: that embarrassing itch, repugnant odor and unsightly redness you have down there is not all that unusual. Millions of women are experiencing the same thing right now, the same amount of women have just finished this article and the same number of women now know how to prevent, diagnose and cure their vaginal infections. And now, you are one of them too.
Frequently Asked Questions
What purpose does a multivitamin play for an internal or inner infection?
Multivitamins provide the necessary nutrients your body needs to recover and restore itself from the effects of an infection. Key components of a multivitamin include Vitamin C and E which both help boost your immune system.
Is it possible to experience only external symptoms when dealing with an infection?
All women are unique and as such react differently to every infection. Yeast infections are notorious for having a variety of symptoms. It’s quite common for women to only experience itching on their vagina and vulva to the point where it is both intolerable and causes the skin to become ran. Swelling and soreness is another symptom that can occur and is usually unaccompanied by anything else.
Can you get a yeast infection from swimming in a public pool?
Because of the high chlorine content present in public pools, your chances of catching a yeast infection is very low. The chemicals are effective in killing off any microorganisms that reside in the pool water. You can however, increase your chances of developing a yeast infection if you stay in your swim suit for a long period of time after leaving the pool or do not properly dry yourself down. The warm, moist environment created by a tight swimsuit and pool water makes for the perfect breeding ground for any fungus. Additionally, the high chlorine content can be too much for some women and can affect the pH levels of the vagina, thus resulting in an infection. If any discomfort is experienced during swimming it is highly advised to stop or reconsider the activity.
Will early detection of a yeast infection help me recover faster?
The ultimate goal for fighting yeast infection is prevention, so the earlier you diagnose yourself, the better. Early detection of a yeast infection can help stop the fungus from growing and becoming worse and also gives you time to consider the type of treatment plan you would prefer to be on. Whether it is otc medications, prescription or all natural, it’s best to know what you have so that you can determine the treatment that is best for you.
Is it possible for a young female / girls to experience chronic yeast infection?
Young girls who haven’t gone through puberty yet are less likely to get yeast infections, but they can occur. An infection of yeast is likely to develop in young girls who have a compromised immune system and who are currently taking antibiotics. Be sure to monitor your daughter when taking antibiotics and on the first complaint of itchiness and redness visit your doctor for diagnosis and consider adding a probiotics supplement to their diet.
Are there any cures or remedies to quickly soothe your itching?
There are not many practical remedies to soothe vaginal itching from an infection. Some women report successful results from using a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water. The most in evasive method to soothe itching is by taking a warm oatmeal bath to relieve the superficial skin infection or to take a healthy dose of probiotics daily.
Before labor I experienced severe vaginal itching. Is it from a yeast infection or another cause?
Yeast infections during pregnancy is more common than any other time in a woman’s life. You are more likely to contract a yeast infection during your second trimester of pregnancy. Severe vaginal itching before labor can be a result of the rapid hormonal changes your body undergoes and the reaction of your vagina as it tries to adapt to these changes.
I have a random itch, but do not believe it to be a yeast infection, is it possible that an STD is the cause?
Yes, many STDs are often accompanied by soreness, swelling, tenderness and intolerable itching around or in the genital area.
Is it safe to use creams like Vagisil and wipes if you have a yeast infection?
Despite its claims, Vagisil is not always effective against candida. Its ingredients are more directed toward reliving the symptoms of a yeast infection such as itching and redness. Vagisil generally does not clear up candida.
Can oral thrush be contagious and lead to a yeast infection?
Yes, any form of candida infection is contagious and can be passed on to other individuals. A sexual partner with oral thrush can pass on the candida fungus to your vagina and cause a yeast infection. Be sure to test for a candida infection and always have protected sex.
What is the first step a girl should do if she experiences vaginal itching?
Seek medical attention immediately.
Every time I shave I get an intense feeling that really itches. What could be the cause?
Itching immediately after shaving is caused by the irritation of the skin left by an abrasive razor. When shaving it’s recommended to go WITH the grain not against it, to prevent irritation of the hair follicles. Additionally, shaving the area causing the skin to dry so applying a moisturizing lotion that is mild and free of perfumes is also recommended.
What is the first step you would take if you experience vaginal bleeding?
Seek medical attention immediately.
What is safe to use to stop or relieve slight vaginal swelling?
There are unfortunately not many remedies to relieve vaginal swelling. The most you can do is wear loose fitting, cotton underwear, bathe regularly and clean the area thoroughly with a mild soap and change your diet to avoid sugary foods and add probiotics into your regime. For a quick, temporary solution, warm oatmeal baths have been associated with temporary relief and have helped some women who experienced vaginal swelling.
What over-the-counter products are effective against vaginal infection?
The most effective over-the-counter product for any vaginal infection is Probiotics like Probacto. The vagina’s sensitive environment is maintained by healthy bacteria and any infection is a sign that the healthy bacteria are no longer present. By taking probiotics you will restore your healthy bacteria and help reestablish your vagina’s natural acidic environment.