Vulvovaginitis is an umbrella term for anything that causes an infection of the vulva/vagina. Yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, some viruses, parasites, and STIs can fall under this category. Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis are the most common. The STI Trichomoniasis also falls under this category.
The basic symptoms of anything in this category are itching, irritation, inflammation, change in discharge, foul vaginal odor, and discomfort or pain with urination. Depending on what you have, a simple pap smear should be enough for a doctor to diagnose and treat it.
There are some things you can do to help prevent certain kinds of infections, like BV, yeast infections and even UTIs. Upping the immune system can help tremendously. Using vitamins like vitamin C and eating garlic and taking Echinaceahelp. Eating yogurt (especially organic or sugar free) can help a lot. Using barrier methods during sex can help as well. Nonspecific vulvovaginitis and other infections can be caused by Bubble baths, soaps, vaginal contraceptives (spermicide, cervical caps, and sponges), “feminine hygiene products”, and perfumes as can tight fitting non absorbent clothing. All of those can cause rashes and irritation or itching which make the vulva and vagina more susceptible to infection. Menopause can cause vaginal dryness which can also make the vagina more susceptible. Some skin conditions or foreign objects like tampons can do the same.
Bacterial Vaginosis is when the balance of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted. You see, the vagina is this very precise eco system with a very precise balance of good bacteria that keeps it clean. When there is an overgrowth of a certain kind of bacteria it creates an infection. It’s the most common vaginal infection. Some people are more prone to infection than others though there are certain things that can increase your risk of getting BV. One is improper hygiene, using douches, other chemicals or soaps in the vulva or vagina. Introducing fecal matter to the vagina either through wiping back to front or through switching from anal stimulation to vaginal. Sexual activity in general can increase the danger of BV. The symptoms of BV include unpleasant odor (most commonly a “fishy” odor) or change in vaginal discharge. There may also be burning or itching present. However, BV can have no symptoms at all. BV decreases your immune system so be sure to get treated quickly and be careful while you have it, especially as it puts you at risk for STIs. If one is pregnant BV can cause a child to be born prematurely, or cause PID which poses several health risks. A simple pap smear will test for BV. BV is treated with antibiotics and as it can be passed during sex it’s important for partners to be tested and treated as well.
Candidiasis is a fungal infection. When it occurs in the mouth it is called thrush, when it occurs in the genitals it’s called a yeast infection. As stated before, the vagina is an eco system. Not only does it have a particular amount of bacteria in it it also has a particular amount of yeast. Whenever that yeast becomes overgrown it causes an infection. A common way for thrush to occur is oral sex while a partner has a yeast infection, however thrush itself is uncommon unless you have a weakened immune system. It’s a good idea to practice good oral hygiene to prevent thrush. Some medications can also cause it so be weary of that. It can be asymptomatic but otherwise symptoms include redness or soerness, difficulty swallowing, and cracking at the corners of the mouth. It is treated with prescription antifungal treatments. As for a yeast infection, it causes are much like BV. Inproper hygiene and sexual activities can cause it. Also, getting any kind of sugars around the vulva can cause it as well. If you bake you know that whenever you mix sugar with yeast the yeast grows. That means you should keep foods away from your vulva. Also, some lubes and other substances (mostly cosmetics) have glycerin in it. Glycerin is a form of sugar so it’s important to look at labels and avoid that ingredient. Some people who are prone to yeast infections find that limiting their sugar intake helps decrease the risk of yeast infection. Another good idea is to wear cotton underwear. Warm moisture (again as most bakers know) can also cause yeast to grow and cotton is a breathable material that decreases warmth and moisture around the genitals. Symptoms include change in discharge (it may become more lumpy or change colors), and there may be itching and burning. There may be rashes on the penis. It can be diagnosed with a simple pap smear. It is treated with prescription antifungals, although there are over the counter methods that can help for some people. Be aware that the more often you use OTC methods they may become less potent and at some point stop working.
A Urinary Tract Infection is an infection that can happen anywhere in the urinary tract. When it occurs in the urethra (the tube that empties urine from the bladder out of the body) is called urethritis. When it occurs in the kidneys it’s called pyelonephritis or just “kidney infection”. When it occurs in the bladder it’s called cystitis or “bladder infection. UTIs rarely occur in the urters (the tubes that take urine from the kidneys to the bladder. UTIs are usually caused by bacteria that enters the urethra and can spread to the bladder or kidneys. It’s more likely to occur in those with vaginas as the urethra is shorter and closer to the anus. This makes it more likely for infection to occur during sexual activity or when inserting things (like tampons or diaphragms) into the vagina as bacteria can also make its way into the urethra from these activities. Menopause also increases the risk of UTI, as does diabetes, urinary retention, catheter use, incontinence, enlarged prostate, kidney stones, pregnancy, or surgery involving the urinary tract. Symptoms include cloudy or bloody urine, urine with a foul odor, pain or burning with urination, pressure or cramping in the lower abdomen or back, and needing to urinate often. It’s important to see the doctor at the first sign of these symptoms because if left untreated the kidneys can become infected which is more painful and can be life threatening. Symptoms of kidney infection are chills and shaking or night sweats, fatigue, general ill feeling, fever above 100F, side, back or groin pain, flushed, warm or reddened skin, mental changes, confusion, nausea and vomiting, and severe abdominal pain. A urine sample is all that is needed to diagnose a UTI. A mild infection can be treated with antibiotics. It’s important that you finish all the antibiotics and take them as prescribed. You may also be given medication to help with pain. It’s important to drink lots of fluids (sugar free cranberry juice is good) and urinate as much as you can. If you have a more severe case you may need to stay in hospital and get antibiotics and other medications through an IV. If you have a severe case there may also be complications that need medical treatment. These include blood infection and kidney damage or scarring. To keep from getting a UTI especially if you have chronic UTIs you may want to choose to use pads instead of tampons or menstrual cups, don’t douche or use feminine hygiene sprays or powders (which is a good rule in general), take showers instead of baths, makes sure you use proper genital cleaning techniques, urinate before and after any sexual activity, wipe front to back, avoid tight fitting pants, wear cotton underwear and change at least once a day, drink plenty of fluids, avoid alcohol and caffeine, and use barrier methods with sex. If you continue to get UTIs the doctor may suggest taking a single dose of antibiotic after sexual contact or having a 3 day course of antibiotics at home to use whenever they occur.
Pelvic Inflamatory Disease happens when bacteria moves from the vagina or cervix into the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, or pelvis. PID usually happens whenever an infection isn’t treated. The most common causes are the STIs Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. However, this can also happen during childbirth, miscarriage, abortion, endometrial biopsy, or during an insertion of a IUD (this mostly happens if you have an STI upon insertion). Symptoms include fever, pain or tenderness in the pelvis, abdomen or back, change in vaginal discharge, bleeding after intercourse, chills, fatigue, frequent or painful urination, increased menstrual cramping, irregular menstrual bleeding, lack of appetite, nausea, loss of menstruation, painful intercourse. There may also be no symptoms. It can be diagnosed through a pelvic examination or lab tests and usually will be treated with antibiotics. Severe cases may require a hospital stay and IV. If left untreated PID can cause scarring on the pelvic organs which can cause trouble conceiving, infertility or chronic pain. It’s important to use condoms and other barrier methods to decrease risk of PID. Also do not douche and get tested regularly.
Toxic Shock Syndrome is caused by a toxin produced by some types of Staphylococcus bacteria. TSS can occur with tampon use although that counts for less than half of current cases. It can occur with skin infections, burns and after surgery. Risk factors include childbirth, staph infection, foreign objects like used in medical packings to stop nosebleeds, menstruation, surgery, tampon use (especially if left in for a long time), use of contraceptives inserted into the vagina like diaphragms/cervical caps/sponge, and wound infection after surgery. Symptoms include confusion, diarrhea, feeling ill, headaches, high fever, low blood pressure, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting, organ failure, redness in eyes, mouth and throat, seizures, and rash. Diagnoses is based on symptoms and organ problems. Blood cultures may also be taken. Treatment includes foreign materials being removed, infections drained, antibiotics, fluids through IV, and possibly more serious things like dialysis if organ problems are present. Toxic Shock Syndrome can be deadly in up to 50% of cases because of organ damage or going into shock. It’s best ot avoid highly absorbent tampons and changing tampons more frequently or using tampons less regularly or not at all. It’s also important to follow directions when using contraception that is inserted to reduce risk of TSS. Luckily TSS is rare.
Chronic Vaginal Infections
I have a few tips to deal with reoccurring infections:
Avoid using Bubble baths, soaps, vaginal contraceptives (spermicide, diaphragms, cervical caps, and the sponge), feminine sprays, and perfumes. If you use lube make sure it doesn’t have glycerin or parabens. Never get food near your vulva. If you use condoms try latex free condoms. Using barrier methods during sex (vaginal, oral, manual, and genital rubbing) can help as well.
Avoid tight fitting non absorbent clothing. Wear cotton underwear and loose bottoms.
Avoid disposable tampons or pads. Menstrual cups and reusable cloth pads work better.
Upping the immune system can help tremendously. Using vitamins like vitamin C and eating garlic and taking Echinacea help. Eating yogurt (especially organic or sugar free) can help a lot.
Only wash your vulva with water. Avoid using soaps, “feminine hygiene products” and douching. Wipe from front to back and never put anything that has been in your anus in your vagina.
Always urinate and clean up after sex.
Drink plenty of water and limit sugars as much as possible. Eat good food and exercise regularly. Get lots of sleep and avoid stress.
My friend thinks Luke Evans/Bard is super hot, so I thought I’d draw a Bard for him. Aaaaaannnd I have a Barduil request to work on, so I needed to practice drawing Bard.
Also, I love the thrush. I totally understand why they changed it from a movie standpoint, but I was sad when they didn’t include the thrush telling Bard where to shoot his arrow. My new otp, Bard/Thursh…Brush :P