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Vaginitis is defined as inflammation of the vagina, caused by a disruption in the normal bacteria in the vagina. Experts estimate that 40% of all types of vaginitis are caused by candida, a yeast like fungus. When it multiplies in the vaginal tract, the disorder is called vulvovaginitis. Women often refer to it as a "yeast infection." About 75% of women get candida vaginitis at some time in their lives. Vaginal candida does not generally occur without estrogen, so premenarchal girls and postmenopausal women not on estrogen replacement almost never develop vaginal yeast.
Signs and Symptoms
What Causes It?
Candida is a yeast-like fungus that grows in the vagina. When there is too much, the fungus causes infection. The following increase your chance of getting a yeast infection:
What to Expect at Your Provider's Office
Your health care provider will give you a pelvic examination and swab your vagina to check for candida. You may also have a Pap smear. Some women have chronic yeast infections. If this happens, your health care provider may want to do additional tests.
Physicians usually recommend topical treatments before oral medications. For chronic infections, your health care provider may increase the dosage and length of treatment. If you have vaginitis, you should avoid excessive exertion and sweating, keep the vaginal area as dry as possible, and avoid sex until symptoms clear. Take showers instead of baths, use unscented soap, and always wipe from front to back after bowel movements. Wearing cotton underwear and avoiding pantyhose and tight fitting pants can help prevent infection.
Topical and oral therapies are equally effective.
Topical therapies (these may initially cause burning from inflammation):
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Alternative therapies may help treat acute and chronic vaginitis. Make sure to inform your health care provider about any herbs and supplements you are taking. Discuss the following douches and suppositories with your doctor to make sure they are not too irritating.
Use only one of the following douches at one time. Do not douche during menstrual periods. For first time or acute infection try the vinegar douche or boric acid capsules. For chronic vaginitis, use the herbal combination douche. For recurrent vaginitis, use the Betadine douche. Stop douching if you are in pain or your symptoms get worse.
Nutrition and Supplements
These nutritional tips may help reduce symptoms:
You may address nutritional deficiencies with the following supplements:
Herbs are generally a safe way to strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your health care provider to diagnose your problem before starting treatment. You may use herbs as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, make teas with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 - 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 - 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 - 4 cups per day. You may use tinctures alone or in combination as noted. Some herbs can interfere with medications so talk to your health care provider before beginning an herbal therapy.
Some of the most common remedies for vaginitis are listed below. Usually, the dose is 3 - 5 pellets of a 12X to 30C remedy every 1 - 4 hours until your symptoms get better.
Acupuncture may be helpful in improving immune function.
To prevent recurrence of infection, take showers instead of baths, use unscented soap, and always wipe from front to back after bowel movements. Wearing cotton underwear and avoiding pantyhose and tight fitting pants can help prevent infection. Recurrent signs and symptoms of vaginitis may be an indication of HSV-2. See your health care provider if you are suffering from recurrent infections.
HIV acquisition is increased among women with vaginitis, so prompt and effective treatment is critical. Yeast infections occur twice as often during pregnancy due to hormone fluctuations. The vagina may also be affected by skin conditions, or dermatoses. Diagnosis and treatment of these conditions is difficult because of the poor visibility in the vagina, and a lack of appropriate medications that are safe for use in the vagina.
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Review Date: 6/9/2012
Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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