While it’s true the vagina is resilient, it can also be very vulnerable, especially because there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding it, leading to some going as far as subscribing to strange vaginal treatments. We are constantly reminded of sexually transmitted diseases, but contrary to what most might think, engaging in safe sex doesn’t necessarily mean you are immune to vaginal infections. No need to be ashamed. Listed below are vaginal problems anyone can get. Read more to understand them.
Also known as yeast infection, Candida stems from the growth of too many yeast cells in the vagina. It affects roughly 75 percent of women at some point in their life, though it is generally not contagious. Symptoms include itching, having white, clumpy and thick discharge, vulvar swelling and redness or irritated skin around the labia, and pain during urination and intercourse. Yeast infections can be treated with over-the counter anti-fungal medication such as ointments, creams, tablets, and suppositories.
BV happens when there is a vaginal imbalance due to the unusually large number of harmful bacteria in the vagina. While most women do not experience symptoms, some report itching, odor, pain, burning, and white or grey discharge. It’s also important to note that this type of infection can spread to female partners. It can generally be treated by antibiotics prescribed by a doctor.
Cervicitis, or the inflammation of the lower end of the uterus that opens into the vagina known as cervix, is a result of either noninfectious causes or STIs such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. Symptoms include brown, green, yellow, or pus-like discharge with odor, painful urination and intercourse, and spotting or vaginal bleeding. Treatment depends on the severity of inflammation. Medication or antibiotics will do the job if it’s caused by an STI. If it’s an allergic reaction or irritation, however, the source of problem must be removed. Chronic cervicitis may require cryosurgery, laser surgery, or cautery.
Though much more prevalent in women, this chronic condition can occur in both men and women. It involves genital pain, grave discomfort; urinary and bowel preoblems, as well as sexual dysfunction. Treatments options vary and can include physical therapy, botox, and even pudendal nerve blocks.
Commonly caused by childbirth, menopause, and even consistent constipation, vaginal prolapse happens when the vagina expands to bother other parts of the body, causing the uterus to prolapse or fall out. Most women don’t experience symptoms, while some feel a strange and uncomfortable sensation in the vagina, as well as pain in the lower back. Surgery can help treat this, while pelvic exercises are recommended.
This type of infection causes the tissues in a woman’s vagina to not function properly. Menopause or the decrease in estrogen is the usual cause. Vaginal dryness, burning, itchiness, pain during sex, discharge, and spotting or bleeding are the symptoms. Moisturizing lotions and oils, dilators, and hormone therapy, work as treatment.
This refers to the contraction of muscles around the vagina induced by either sex, insertion of tampon, or a Pap smear which causes pain, burning, or tightness during sex, difficult inserting tampons, and spasms in other body parts. It is usually treated with pelvic exercises as well as dilators.
Most prevalent among post-menopausal women, this unusual skin condition causes shiny, smooth spots on the vulva which can grow and lead to bright red or purple bruises. Scars borne from this can narrow the vaginal opening, making intercourse painful or impossible. Some symptoms are itching, discomfort/pain, bleeding, and blisters. This non-contagious condition can be diagnosed with a visual exam, or via a biopsy. Strong cortisone creams or skin ointments can help alleviate itching, while continuous treatment is key to overcoming it.
Contact dermatitis is caused by allergens and other irritants such as laundry detergents, fabric softeners, body soaps and deodorized tampons, which causes mild to severe vulvar itching, skin thickening, and pain during sex or vaginal exam among other. A feeling dampness due to vulvar irritation and skin “weeping” may also occur. Taking a short lukewarm bath with 4 or 5 tablespoons of baking soda in it two or three times daily may help relieve itching and burning. For severe cases, your doctor may prescribe steroid treatment.
While reading and educating yourself about these things goes a long way, consulting a professional is still key in helping you address and, ultimately, overcome your body’s concerns.
Art by Marian Hukom
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