How do you know if you have an infection down there?

Many women will suffer from infection of the vagina in their lifetime, but this aggravating condition can now be controlled.

Women suffer more than their share of genital discomfort and the persistent nature of it is often due to current fashion and custom.

Irritations, itching, and general discomfort about the vulva (the vaginal entrance) can cause frayed nerves, mental anxieties, tension, and frustration, as well as wreck otherwise well-adjusted marriages.

The constant desire to scratch is an embarrassment. Besides, it is self-defeating and only makes the irritation worse. It can also lacerate the skin, opening the way for infection. The sufferer becomes more uncomfortable and further from a cure.

Just about every case of “pruritus vulvae” (as it is often called by doctors) is caused by vaginal discharge.

Once the fluid reaches the surface on a continuous basis, the skin quickly becomes red and inflamed, and often itchy. The problems increase rapidly.

Fortunately, good treatment is now available for most cases of vaginal infection and the resulting skin irritation. Many antibiotics effectively kill the organisms responsible.

Often the doctor will take a specimen for pathological assessment. This identifies the germ and usually tells what antibiotic is most suitable for the patient.

Treatment can involve the use of pessaries inserted into the vagina each night for a week or more. It can involve the use of tablets taken orally for a week.

Nystatin or natamycin pessaries (or creams or other forms of locally applied material) work fast.

Metronidazole tablets taken orally seem to cure quickly the two most common causes: mondial and trichomonal infections.

About 85 percent of women suffer at some stage of their lives from mondial infections of the vagina. Monilia is a fungus, Candida albicans, and is not related to sexual intercourse.

The fungus is a normal inhabitant of the bowel and many women unconsciously infect and re-infect themselves by incorrect use of lavatory paper.

A sweeping front-to-hack motion alters a bowel action, or the reverse after urinating, causes the paper to bring surface monilial germs to the vaginal entrance.

From here it is very easy for the germs to enter the vagina and begin to grow, provided the nature of the vaginal fluids encourages growth.

In recent years, many new factors are claimed to aggravate the monilial infection.

The contraceptive pill and antibiotics can produce vaginal fluids with an acid-alkaline balance (pH) that encourages monilial growth. It is more common in diabetics for the same reason.

Pregnant women are more likely to suffer from it: the chemical state during pregnancy and when taking the Pill is similar.

Wearing tight-fitting pantihose, particularly in summer, prevents adequate aeration: moisture accumulates and aggravates infections and irritations.

Another common vaginal infection is caused by an organism called trichomonas vaginalis.

This is sexually transmitted. When present in the vagina it produces a thin burning watery discharge that not only causes intense discomfort within the vagina but also marked local irritation when the discharge covers the skin about the vaginal entrance. The discomfort can be so severe that normal intercourse is totally impossible.

Besides these two relatively common infections, there are quite a few other gynecological disorders that can produce excessive secretions and moisture in the vagina and at the vulval opening. Small meaty growths called polyps occurring in the cervical canal are notorious for this.

In some cases, a check-up and possible treatment of the husband at the same time as the wife lessens the chance of relapse. When a cure is sought the patient’s co-operation is essential or a recurrence is almost inevitable.

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