Home Medications and Treatments for Vaginal Infections.
Almost every woman has had a vaginal infection at one time or another, and some women seem to have a series of infections that never completely clear up. Vaginitis, a common gynecological complaint, refers to the Inflammation of the female genital tract. It is characterized by a Painful, sometimes whitish, discharge. One common form of Infection, identified by persistent or recurrent urethritis, is trichomoniasis. The spread of vaginitis, if caused by an Infection, can lead to other pelvic inflammatory diseases.
Vaginal discharge, itching, and burning are common symptoms of the various forms of vaginitis. Although the symptoms of these infections can be very similar, there are some differences to look for in the color and smell of the discharge. Some vaginal discharge is quite common and normal for women of childbearing age. Normally, cervical glands produce a clear mucous secretion that drains downward, mixing with bacteria, discarded vaginal cells, and Bartholin gland secretions at the opening of the vagina. These substances may (depending on how much mucus there is) turn the mucus a whitish color, and the discharge turns yellowish when exposed to air. There are times throughout the menstrual cycle that the cervical glands produce more mucus than others, depending on the amount of estrogen produced. This is normal.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common cause of vaginitis, accounting for 50% of cases. BV is caused by a change in the bacteria normally found in the vagina and causes an overgrowth of organisms such as Gardnerella vaginalis.
Risk factors include pregnancy, intrauterine device (IUD) use, and frequent douching. It is associated with sexual activity, possibly a new sexual partner or multiple sexual partners. Women who have never had sexual intercourse are rarely affected.
You do not get BV from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools.
In the United States, as many as 16% of pregnant women have BV. This varies by race and ethnicity from 6% in Asians and 9% in whites to 16% in Hispanics and 23% in African Americans.
Vaginal yeast infections are caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. This is also called candidiasis, genital candidiasis, or vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC). Yeast infection can spread to other parts of the body including skin, mucous membranes, heart valves, esophagus, and other areas. It can cause life-threatening systemic infections mostly in people with weakened immune defenses (such as women who are pregnant and people who are HIV positive, have diabetes, or are taking steroids).
Nearly 75% of all adult women have had at least one genital yeast infection in their lifetime. Vaginal yeast infection is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, but 12% to 15% of men will develop symptoms such as itching and penile rash following sexual contact with an infected partner.
Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of normally growing fungi in the vagina that creates unpleasant symptoms. The yeast are kept under control by normally growing bacteria in the body. If the natural balance of microorganisms is disrupted, the yeast grow out of control. It is not clear how fungal infections originate, but they are not thought to be sexually transmitted. Your own natural bacteria cause this type of infection when an imbalance occurs, possibly caused by any of these events:
* Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease (also called trich, pronounced "trick") caused by a parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. Trichomoniasis is primarily an infection of the urinary and genital tract. For women, the vagina is the most common site of infection. For men, the urethra is most commonly affected.
Other causes of vaginal infection may be because you could be allergic to spermicides, vaginal hygiene products, and detergents and fabric softeners you use to wash your clothes. You may also have a different sexually transmitted disease. Older women may experience atrophic vaginitis (a thinning of the vaginal walls with menopause). You may have forgotten to remove a tampon, or another foreign object may be in your vagina causing irritation.
Herbs applied externally ease the inflammation and itching of vaginal infections. Internally, herbs bolster the body's immune response and directly fight the microorganisms that are causing the infection. Use both external and internal treatments for best results, and be patient. It may take a couple of weeks for full recovery from a vaginal infection. When you use herbs and other natural remedies for treating a vaginal infection, you are not only fighting the infection, but you are also strengthening your body against future infections. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs that are used to treat vaginal infections treat only the symptoms and do nothing to help restore a healthy balance to your vagina or to strengthen your immune system.
The following herbs are among the most helpful remedies for treating vaginal infections.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)
helps to fight infection by bolstering your body's natural immune response. Take one-half teaspoon of extract or two capsules four to six times a day until the infection subsides.
Garlic (Allium sativum)
is a powerful antimicrobial that directly fights bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms that cause infection. Garlic must be eaten raw and either chopped or chewed to take full advantage of its infection-fighting properties. However, chewing a raw clove of garlic is not easy for most people because it is so pungent. Try finely chopping a garlic clove and adding it to salad dressings, pasta, or soups just before serving, or simply wrap the chopped garlic in a small piece of bread to make it easier to take. For general immune enhancement, eat one clove daily. During an active infection, eat three cloves daily.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
has natural antibiotic properties and has been proven to kill a wide variety of harmful microorganisms. In addition, goldenseal has astringent properties that soothe inflamed mucous membranes. Goldenseal can be used both internally and externally. To fight an infection, take one-half to one teaspoon of liquid extract or two to three capsules of goldenseal three times a day. Do not use goldenseal during pregnancy, because it may stimulate uterine contractions. Goldenseal can also be used as a vaginal wash (see following instructions).
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
is rich in fragrant essential oils that have potent antimicrobial properties. When made into a strong tea and applied externally, it relieves itching and is excellent for baths and vaginal washes for treating vaginal infections. Pour four cups of boiling water over six tablespoons of thyme, cover, and steep until cool. Strain and use in a sitz bath or as a vaginal wash (see following instructions).
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
is a soothing, gentle herb that calms inflammation and promotes tissue healing. It also has antimicrobial properties (including antifungal action) and is ideal for vaginal washes. Pour four cups boiling water over six tablespoons calendula, cover, and steep until cool. Strain and use as a vaginal wash.
Herbal Vaginal Wash
2 tablespoons powdered goldenseal
3 tablespoons thyme
3 tablespoons calendula
4 cups boiling water
Pour boiling water over herbs, cover, and steep
until cool. Stain through a coffee filter. Use as a
vaginal wash several times a day.
Aromatherapy for Vaginal Infections.
Many essential oils have infection-fighting properties and are helpful for treating vaginal infections. They can easily be added to baths, sitz baths, and vaginal rinses to help ease uncomfortable symptoms such as itching, inflammation, and discharge. In general, use approximately ten drops of essential oil in a sitz bath and five drops to one quart of warm water for a vaginal rinse or douche.
Lavender has soothing and healing properties and relieves itching and inflammation. Although gentle, it is a potent antimicrobial. It has a sweet, floral, herbaceous fragrance.
Tea tree has powerful antiseptic properties and kills a wide variety of infectious microorganisms. Always dilute tea tree oil before using it on tender mucous membranes such as the vagina. Tea tree oil has a pungent medicinal scent reminiscent of eucalyptus.
Herbal Sitz Baths for Vaginal infections.
Warm or hot herbal sitz baths help to relieve itching, pain, and
inflammation and also help to wash out the vagina. Make a
strong herbal tea to add to the bath by pouring one quart of
boiling water over four tablespoons each of calendula and
thyme. Steep until cool, and strain. Pour the tea into a large
plastic tub (large enough to hold your buttocks) and fill with
enough hot water so that the water barely reaches your navel
when you are sitting in the tub. Your upper body and your legs
will be out of the tub. The idea is to soak just your pelvic
region in the water. Add 10 drops of lavender essential oil.
Soak for 15 minutes, allowing the water to flow freely into
your vagina. Repeat this bath twice daily until the infection
Apple-Cider Vinegar and Vaginal Infections.
Apple-cider vinegar is an excellent way to relieve itching and helps to restore a healthy pH balance to the vagina.
Mix three tablespoons of unpasteurized apple-cider vinegar with
one quart of warm water. Add three drops of lavender essential oil
and two drops of tea tree essential oil. Use as a vaginal rinse as
needed, or as a gentle douche twice daily.
To soothe irritated mucous membranes, apply a liberal amount of
aloe vera gel or calendula gel or salve to the vaginal tissues two or
three times daily.
Diet to Prevent Vaginal Infections.
Avoid sugar and sweets, such as pastries and candies. These upset the acid-base balance of the body, including the vagina, and can lead to infections.
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