Vaginitis is an umbrella term used to describe inflammation of the vagina. The possible causes of vaginitis include bacterial and yeast infection, a parasite or atrophy. Treatment is dependent on the type of vaginitis, and typically involves prescription medications in the form of pills or creams. Home remedies exist, though are only effective in treating vaginitis caused by a yeast infection.
Types of Vaginitis
There are four main causes of vaginitis:
Bacterial vaginosis, which is caused by an excessive number of naturally-occurring bacteria in the vagina.
Yeast infections, which is caused by Candida albicans, a fungus that occurs naturally in the body. It is the most common type of yeast infection, affecting an estimated 75 percent of all women in their lifetime.
Parasitic infections, which are a form of sexually transmitted disease. The medical term for this is trichomoniasis.
Atrophic vaginitis, which occurs as the result of diminished levels of estrogen. This typically occurs in post-menopausal women. It causes the vagina to dry out and become thin, which can lead to burning, pain and itching.
Symptoms of vaginitis include a change in the appearance, flow and volume of common vaginal discharge. It may become painful to urinate or to have sex, and the vagina becomes painful or itchy. In some cases, vaginal bleeding may occur.
Some symptoms are type-specific. The odor that accompanies bacterial vaginosis is often described as a "fishy" smell, and may become more apparent after sexual intercourse. The discharge may also take on a grayish-white appearance. The primary symptom of a yeast infection is a discharge resembling cottage cheese along with itching, while the discharge for trichomoniasis is frothy in appearance and possesses a greenish-yellow color.
Home Remedies for Yeast Infections
If the cause of your vaginitis is bacterial, parasitic or atrophy, then the only effective cure is medication prescribed by a physician. Yeast infections are the only form of vaginitis that can be cured without prescription medication, although some possible natural treatments exist to help alleviate the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.
Over-the-counter treatment in cream or suppository form can be taken for up to a week to help treat a yeast infection. The primary ingredients in these medications include clotrimazole, miconazole and tioconazole. If you have had a yeast infection and are aware of the signs and symptoms, no doctor consultation is necessary; otherwise, consult a physician before beginning an over-the-counter drug regimen.
In addition to medication, applying a cold compress can help ease pain and inflammation. Additionally, cold water irrigation of the vagina using a fountain syringe can help provide temporary relief and keep the area clean and cool. Other methods include cool baths and douches to keep the vagina and vaginal canal clean. When douching, it is best to begin with warm water to clean out the discharge and follow it up with a cool douche to alleviate pain and irritation. Douching, however, should not be done on a regular basis or when healthy, as it can actually increase the risk of an infection by washing away good bacteria.
Home Remedies for Bacterial Vaginosis
Some websites, such as OrganicFacts.org, make the claim that bacterial vaginosis can be cured without the aid of medication. According to MayoClinic.org, this is not true; therefore, if you suspect you have bacterial vaginosis, consult a doctor immediately.
Some home remedies, however, have been suggested for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis symptoms. In addition to the use of cold compresses, applying yogurt or garlic directly to the vagina has been considered an effective treatment for vaginitis. Other possible remedies include vegetable juice, turmeric dissolved in milk and soaking in a bath containing oil.
Although proclaimed by some to be effective at treating bacterial vaginosis, no medical evidence exists to support these claims. As such, before beginning any alternative treatment regimen, it is wise to consult a doctor to avoid any unwanted side effects and to determine the exact cause of the condition.
One of the best home methods for preventing and even treating a vaginal yeast infection is through a proper diet. The goal of a yeast infection diet is to reduce the amount of vaginal secretions and cutting off the food supply of the fungus, which is primarily sugar. This begins with a minimum three-day fast, wherein only juices should be consumed. Following the fast, a diet consisting of raw or boiled vegetables for approximately two weeks can not only help minimize secretions, but help reduce inflammation as well. A complete least of what foods to eat and what to avoid while suffering from a yeast infection can be found at YeastInfectionAdvisor.com.