Vaginal Infections cause a wide range of symptoms, including one or more of the following : itching, burning, and irritation in the vaginal area; painful intercourse, abnormal vaginal discharge, white “chunks” that resemble cottage cheese, foul odor, fishy odor, inflammation and swelling of the genital area, and burning during urination. A healthy vagina has a pungent odor unique to every person. Normal discharge is clear to white, turning yellow when exposed to air. The color and amount of discharge varies through the monthly cycled and depends largely on estrogen levels.
Bacterial vaginosis is responsible for at least 50% of vaginal infections. BV is caused by the growth of an unfriendly bacterium called Gardnerella vaginalis that lives in low-oxygen environments. When the vagina loses its natural acidity the Gardenerella bacteria thrives in the altered pH-neutral environment. A bacterial infection with Garnerella causes a fishy odor along with vaginal itching and irritation. Discharge may vary from yellow to grayish white. BV does not cause pain during intercourse and sometimes causes no symptoms at all.
The common yeast infection is caused by the overgrowth of a genus of yeast called Candida Albicans. This fungus–all yeasts are fungi–is present throughout the mouth and digestive tract in nearly 80% of the population, with little noticeable effects. This yeast starts out as a single-celled organism, but in the right conditions it will, literally, go crazy, producing a huge branching structure of filaments, much like a tree with many, many branches. This tangled mass produces a visually identifiable infection called Candidiasis, which is responsible for vaginal yeast infections and mouth infections called thrush. In the most severe cases, Candida can invade the nose, organs, brain, and blood.
Vaginal yeast infections occur most frequently after a course of antibiotics. Medications like penicillin kill all kinds of healthy bacteria, including the good vaginal flora.
Patients on steroidal medications and women on birth control pills or using IUDs are more likely to experience frequent yeast infections. Some women on birth control can develop yeast infection symptoms monthly, which subside at the beginning of the cycle and return again before menstruation.
Diet is a major influence on the body. Unhealthy food causes imbalances in the vaginal microflora. Diet can influence everything from blood sugar to pH and both are key causes of vaginal infections.
Although yeast infections are not sexually transmitted women who have frequent unprotected sex are at in increased risk this simply because sperm and ejaculate are highly alkaline, making the vagina work harder to correct the acid balance.
Serious medical problems like diabetes, leukemia, and HIV or AIDS can cause in increased occurrence of vaginal infections, particularly yeast infections with Candida. Diabetes alters body chemistry, pH, and causes elevated blood sugar that yeast thrives on. People with compromised immune systems, including patients with HIV or AIDS, are at an increased rick for persistent yeast infections, including oral thrush.
After a course of antibiotics take a probiotic supplement to help reestablish the healthy microorganisms and prevent a full-blown infection.
Proper Dieting & Comfortable Clothing
Excellent diet is the key to preventing the reoccurrence and length of infections. Yeast, in particular, feeds on sugars in refined starches. A died heavy in processed foods and empty carbohydrates causes spikes in blood sugar that yeast needs to survive. Limit consumption of potatoes, white flour, breads, crackers, and anything made with starches. Consuming any of these foods, particularly in excessive quantities, only fuels the fire.
Regular consumption of yogurt is extremely effective at balancing the natural healthy flora in the intestines and vaginal area. Using milk supplemented with Sweet acidophilus cultures is another way to correct the natural balance of healthy bacteria in the vagina. Avoid synthetic underwear made from polyester, which can trap air and moisture. Wear cotton undergarments that naturally absorb moisture and promote air circulation.