How to know you have a vaginal infection

One of the most annoying infections any woman can have is a Vaginal infection.

It transcends every age and can be contracted in several many ways including use of toilets, underwear, and sexual transmission among others. Again some of these can be very deadly while some are mild. Be that as it may, it is important to know the signs of an imminent infection in order to prevent and treat where necessary.

The general signs of any infection may be one or all of the following, Discharge, vulvae itching, Redness, swelling, lumps, blisters, sore spots or ulceration of the vulva (the skin around the outside of the vagina), Foul odor, Painful intercourse and Lower abdomen pain.

However there are common groups of vaginal infections which may have their own unique signs.

Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is one of the most commonly diagnosed vaginal infections causing vaginal discharge in women generally belonging to reproductive age. It causes foul odor sometimes accompanied by itching and burning. The foul smell could have a fishy smell.

Symptoms - Most of the women suffering from bacterial vaginosis experience discharge of white, grey, yellowish or greenish color and may also experience some pain in the vaginal area.  BV may further lead to infection of the bladder and the uthrera as well as skin infection around the vulva.

Threat – If not treated timely then Bacterial vaginosis can raise some serious long-lasting problems and increase the likelihood of  miscarriages, premature labor, cervicitis (at the uterus orifice) and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

Treatment - Frequent vaginal wash is advised which helps in reducing bacterial infection, along with any medication your gynecologist might prescribe.

Vaginal Fungal Infection

Vaginal fungal infection is another most commonly experienced infection by women.  Yeast is always present in the vagina in small numbers but symptoms appear if there is an overgrowth.  Several factors are associated with increased symptomatic infection in women, including pregnancy, uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, and use of oral contraceptives and so on. Although the parasite can survive in a moist environment like on towels or clothing and can be picked up from genital contact with such items.

Symptoms - The most frequent symptoms of yeast infection in women are itching, foul-smelling, burning and irritation of the vagina.  Painful urination and/or pain during intercourse are common. Vaginal discharge is not always present and may be minimal.  The thick, whitish-gray discharge can vary from watery to thick in consistency.  Most male sexual partners of women with yeast infection do not experience any symptoms of the infection.

Treatment - Various antifungal vaginal medications are available to treat yeast infection. Women can buy antifungal creams, tablets over the counter for use in the vagina.  But because BV, trichomoniasis and yeast infection are difficult to distinguish, it is advisable to consult the doctor before using these products.

Viral Infection (Herpes simplex virus)

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is another vaginal infection which takes a five to seven day growing period before symptoms appear.  In this type of infection painful ulcers develop on the genitals, which take around 2-3 weeks to heal. The virus may reappear from time to time.  Recurrences tend to be milder and in one place. Ulcers heal in about 10 days.  A person can infect others for about four days after the symptoms have gone away.

Symptoms - When a woman is first infected, her symptoms may include feeling unwell, swollen lymph nodes in the groin and a fever that usually goes away in a week.

Treatment - For the treatment of HSV a course of anti-viral drugs is prescribed. Since this infection can be transferred from male partners, the treatment of a woman’s sexual partner in certain types of conditions is also advisable.

Some basic hygiene tips to help prevent vaginal infections
Eat good and nutritious food.

Have a daily exercise routine.

Wipe toilet seats before use.

Wear cotton pants and underwear.

Ensure your sex partner is safe and does not carry any infections, if not sure, use a condom.

Ensure you clean off after using the toilet or urinating.

Wipe from the vaginal region to the anal region and not the other way as wiping from back o front would send bacteria to the vagina.

Do not use medicated soaps to wash the vagina; using a lot of water instead is healthier.

Avoid wearing tight fitted clothes and undies to prevent the growth of yeast.

Keep a watchful eye on your body changes and underwear and report any changes to your  gynaecologist  for prompt treatment.

Always check with a specialist since some of the infections might not show any physical signs.

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