How to Treat Vaginal Infections

>> Tuesday, August 13, 2013

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Other than annual exams, vaginal infections are the most common reason that women come to my office. Vaginal infections are not only annoying, but they can be scary, too. Most of the time the symptoms alone are hard to deal with - the odor and itching is unbearable - but there is also the inconvenience of having to make an appointment to come in, taking time off from work, experiencing an uncomfortable exam, etc. And, who wants an exam when bleeding or having awful discharge?!

The most common vaginal infections are vaginal yeast and bacterial vaginosis (often referred to as BV). Most surprising to many women is that BV is twice as common as yeast infections (the odor is so offensive that many women feel they are the only ones who could possibly suffer from them).

With a yeast infection, vaginal itching can occur on the inside of the vagina, outside on the labia or both. Vaginal burning (especially while urinating) and redness and swelling of the labia or even the inside of the vagina can occur as well. The vaginal discharge is usually white and lumpy in texture, similar to cottage cheese.

The standard treatment for yeast infection is an antifungal product to curb the over growth of yeast, restore the vaginal flora to a natural balance, and of course resolve the symptoms. For many years,
antifungal products were not available for purchase over the counter. Fortunately for women today, there are over the counter (OTC) treatments for yeast infections as well as products that can help relieve symptoms such as itching and irritation. If symptoms do not resolve, then come in for an appointment. With most of my patients, I can write for refills on their previous prescription medications. They know what the symptoms are, so this helps them, because if it doesn't get better, they are right back in for a re-check.

With BV, the most common symptoms are a grayish white, thin vaginal discharge with a very noticeable vaginal odor. Many women describe the odor as a “fishy smell.” This odor is frequently most noticeable after sexual intercourse or before and after a menstrual period.

Because bacterial vaginosis is caused from an over growth of certain bacteria in the vagina, oral antibiotics or vaginal cream/gel are the standard treatment used to resolve the infection. These antibiotics are prescription only and must, therefore, be written by a doctor or healthcare provider. BV is a highly recurrent situation and, therefore, repeat treatment may be necessary. Again, that is why I give refills to help stay on top of them. If the medication doesn't help, then it's time to return for an exam. Needless to say, this cycle can cause frustration and distress, leading to emotional and psychological effects in women who suffer recurrent BV and vaginal odor. It is embarrassing and makes being intimate very uncomfortable.

Luckily WaterWorks has been designed to help women who have recurrent vaginal odor and can even help with discharge. It is FDA-cleared for vaginal odor and really works! It is a reusable douche-like device that has a medical grade stainless steel nozzle. It is kept in your shower where you can fill it with warm water and allow the water to sprinkle out of the steel end that is placed into the vagina for feminine hygiene washing. It is the reaction of the stainless steel with the water that erases the vaginal odor, and restores the vagina back to normal. Now you can feel clean and be confident with your partner!

It is wonderful to know that you can use it every day as part of your shower routine. Since it uses only plain tap water, there are no harsh chemicals to harm or disrupt the normal vaginal flora. It is great to use after your period or after sex to rinse out the semen and feel clean immediately.

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