Vagina is one of the most sensitive parts of the female human body. It is composed of two different kinds of epithelial coverings and three separate layers namely the mucosa that lines the lumen, the musclularis and the adventitia. This organ of the female reproductive system appears as an approximately 8 cm long muscular tube, which can expand up to ten times its regular width so to form an outward passage for a 7 lb baby.
It is yet so common that the women of our society have less knowledge about the health of their reproductive system. The vagina is prone to infection, since it opens outwards and is not covered. Several vaginal health conditions prevail in today’s era, including vaginitis, genital warts, vaginismus, bacterial vaginosis, gonorrheal infection, vaginal prolapse, vaginal cancer, herpes simplex viral infection, and yeast infection.
Of all the conditions mentioned above, the topic of our health news in this blog post shall be ‘vaginal yeast infection’. This infectious condition in women is fairly common, and is mostly caused by the Candida genus of this class of micro-organisms. Of these, Candida albicans is the most common specie responsible for the infection. The organism forms a normal part of the vaginal flora, and works in association with the lactobacillus bacteria (another important micro-organism of the flora of vagina).
Why does it happen?
You might be wondering what causes these normal organisms of the organ to produce infection, and how can they cause diseases when they normally live there? Well, there are certain circumstances in which this normally occurring flora turns pathogenic, some of which are mentioned as under:
- a weak and incompatible immune system
- regular use of antibiotics- antibiotics interrupt the working of lactobacillus bacteria in the vagina. This disrupts the co-operative working of the micro-organisms, making Candida the dominant one. The dominance of Candida thus produces yeast infection
- an uncontrolled diabetes
- chronic stress
- irregularity of hormones that maintain the menstrual cycle
- too much intake of sugar in diet
- being overweight
How would you know if you have a vaginal infection?
Although the symptoms produced by yeast infection and that caused by other infectious conditions of the vagina might be difficult to differentiate, however the recognition of abnormal symptoms in itself is highly necessary. Symptoms of the disease together with lab tests can lead towards the formation of a proper diagnosis.
- a woman with vaginal yeast infection shall experience severe itching around the organ
- sensation of burning around and in the vagina is yet another commonly occurring symptom
- vaginal yeast infection can cause pain during sexual intercourse. An intense and long prevailing infection can thus affect the sexual relationship
- a yeast-infected vaginal appears sore
- vaginal discharge occurs in almost all kinds of vaginal infections. However, the type of discharge is important to appreciate the responsible specie for the disease. In yeast infection, the vaginal discharge is thick, odorless and whitish grey. Many a times, doctors make the appearance of vaginal discharge as one of the tools for diagnosis of the condition
- due to yeast infection, there can be a rash anywhere near the vagina
How is vaginal yeast infection treated?
Once a proper diagnosis is established, treatment is started immediately and accordingly. Vaginal yeast infections are not difficult to cure. However, any delay in the treatment can bring out complications earlier than expected. Yeast infections in vagina are fairly common, and most of the times they are not severe and easily treated due to early diagnosis. However, in few cases, such infections can be quite severe, so much so that they can even lead to failure of the transplanted uterus.
Lets split up the treatment for this condition into that for mild and complicated cases:
For simple candida infections of vagina, anti-fungal regimen is provided by means of creams, ointments, oral tablets and suppository. The most commonly used anti-fungal medicines are Monistat, Terazol and Lotrimin. An oral dose of Diflucan is also prescribed.
Complicated cases of Candida albicans infections require a rather aggressive form of treatment, since such cases fail to respond to mild medications. A long-term course with Diflucan medication is initiated. Moreover, a 14-day treatment with anti-fungal suppository, cream or ointment is also prescribed.
What can you do to keep away vaginal yeast infection?
Simple measures are required to keep away your chances of getting yeast infection.
- a balanced diet comprising of adequate portions of vegetables, meat, fruit, poultry and fiber should be followed
- special care should be taken before consumption of birth pills, since they disrupt the hormonal balance in the body
- hygiene is an important factor in the prevention of vaginal yeast infection. Make sure that the clothes and undergarments you wear are clean. Tampons, sanitary pads, and other stuff used during menstrual cycle should also be clean
- your sex-partner could have any infection which might be asymptomatic. Use of condoms is highly advised is one of the partners is affected
- frequent use of perfumes, sprays and powder in the vaginal area can disrupt the pH of the organ, by interfering with the balance of the normal vaginal flora
- if you are immunocompromised or are using steroid medications, consult your doctor so that they may guide you regarding the health of your vagina