Are you worried about your vaginal health? You should be, especially if you are already experiencing persistent itching, abnormal discharges, or irritations. These are all signs of vaginal problems, and it is your responsibility to learn more about them and treat them.
It could be a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, or trichomoniasis. Although the symptoms are similar, the conditions are completely different from one another. They have different causes and need different treatments.
In the following lines, we will cover the basics of these three affections so as to make it easier for you to recognize them and find the most effective treatment. Just remember that this is just general information and it should not replace or be interpreted as medical advice.
The 3 Most Common Vaginal Health Problems and How to Treat Them
These infections are caused by an overabundance of certain yeast. Candida, a fungus, is probably the best-known yeast and the most common cause of infection. Infections usually follow treatment with antibiotics, pregnancy, use of birth control pills, diabetes, and weak immunity.
These create a favorable environment for Candida to multiply and grow. When it does, it induces unpleasant symptoms, such as:
- White, cheesy vaginal discharge
- Painful intercourse
- Redness, soreness, swelling, and burning sensation in the vaginal area.
The symptoms fade away within days with the right treatment. There are numerous antifungal creams, suppositories, and tablets available over the counter. Depending on the product chosen, treatment can last from one day to one week. Within couples, it is advisable that the partner follows a similar treatment as well.
Before treating a yeast infection, it is important to get it diagnosed by the doctor. As mentioned above, vaginal problems have different symptoms and require different treatments, so you need a clear diagnosis first. Without it, you could be treating a condition that you do not have and, at the same time, allow the conditions you do have to get worse and, maybe, even develop complications.
2. Bacterial Vaginosis
This is not an infection but rather the result of an imbalance in the vaginal flora. The lactobacillus population is depleted in favor of other harmful bacteria. Common risk factors for bacterial vaginosis are pregnancy, having multiple sex partners, not using a condom during sexual intercourse, or using intrauterine devices.
Compared to yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis has fewer and milder symptoms. They include:
- Fish-like vaginal odor
- Abnormal white or grayish vaginal discharge
- Itching or irritation
- Burning sensation when urinating
Antibiotics are the most common treatment for bacterial vaginosis. In order for the treatment to be effective, the person receiving it should not engage in sexual intercourse until completing it. Men are not at risk of contracting and passing on the condition, so they will not need treatment. Lesbian couples should follow treatment together.
Left untreated, bacterial vaginosis increases your risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. It may also cause preterm birth or low baby weight in pregnant women. Therefore, it is important that it be treated and diagnosed in due time.
This condition is caused by a parasite and is a common sexually transmitted infection. Its symptoms may take between five days and one month to set in. Some women do not experience any symptoms as well. It is important to note that a lack of symptoms does not prevent transmission. The symptoms include
- Yellowish-green vaginal discharge
- Foul vaginal odor
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Painful urination
- Itching and irritation
- Occasional pelvic pain
The standard treatment for trichomoniasis is antibiotics, most doctors choosing between two options: metronidazole and tinidazole. Couples should seek treatment together and refrain from having sexual intercourse during it. Left untreated, the condition increases the risks of contracting and passing HIV.
It Is Always Preferable to Prevent Than Cure
Treating any of the above conditions could disrupt your routine and sex life. If you have not yet contracted any of these conditions or, if you have, once you complete treatment, you should consider taking some preventative measures.
Always wear cotton underwear. Avoid vaginal douches, scented feminine products, staying wet, and wearing tight pantyhose, jeans, or leggings. Change your tampons, pads, and liners frequently. Wipe from front to back. Add probiotic-rich foods to your diet. Should the worst happen, consult your doctor for accurate diagnosis and treatment?