Knowing different types of vaginal infections
WHEN women are uncomfortable and itchy down there, they tend to shy away from talking about it. They feel like infections are an embarrassing thing to have or are all caused by having unprotected sex.
WHAT IS A VAGINAL INFECTION?
A vaginal infection is a condition that causes an infection or inflammation of the vagina and is caused by different things.
Hormones can change the pH balance in your private part. If you are diabetic and your diabetes is not well-controlled, the increase in sugar in the mucus membranes of your private part can create a place for yeast to grow.
According to a report by the National Institute of Health, between 40 and 50 percent of women will experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) in their lifetime. Even more, getting a UTI once increases your risk of repeat infections.
The report says about 75 percent of women have at least one vaginal yeast infection at some point in their lives while nearly half have at least two. About 5 percent have more than three infections in a single year. It is the second most common cause of vaginal inflammation after bacterial vaginosis.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF INFECTIONS
Olwetu Mateta, a registered nurse at Groote Schuur Hospital, explains the various conditions that cause an infection or inflammation of your private part.
She says you can have an infection caused by bacteria, yeast or viruses. Chemicals in soaps, sprays or even clothing that come in contact with this area could irritate the delicate skin and tissues. Yeast infections affect different parts of the body in different ways.
“There is the sexually transmitted infection, Chlamydia, which may not show any symptoms. Then there are genital warts, which occur with or without the use of condoms. As long as there is contact between male and female genitalia, you can contract the infection and sometimes without even having sex,” says Olwetu. “There are also infections such as a bladder
WHEN YOU GET RED RASHES, THEN YOU SHOULD KNOW IT IS TIME TO SEE THE DOCTOR
infection, which may cause pelvic pain, increased urge to urinate and can occur during urination or during sexual intercourse. You normally feel fatigue, fever, discomfort and cramping or vaginal irritation.” AVOID VAGINAL INFECTIONS ■ Invest in cotton underwear: This is for optimal genital health. A very tight G-string can rub and make the rectum and anus sore and carry bacteria towards your private part and urethra, leading to an infection. ■ Don't forget the lube: Lubricant is actually recommended for the prevention of infections, particularly for those who are dry because it cuts down on the risk of tiny periurethral (tissues surrounding the urethra). ■ Avoid overly fragrant soaps and body washes: Using the wrong type of soap or body wash near your private part can increase the risk of yeast infections. ■ Don't hold your bladder if you want to pee: Urinate regularly and go to the bathroom when you need to avoid getting a bladder infection. ■ Urinate before and after sex: A urinary tract infection happens when bacteria travels up the urethra and enters the bladder. Peeing after sex helps flush out bacteria before it can travel to the bladder. ■ Drink a lot of water: This helps to dilute your urine and ensures you'll urinate more frequently, allowing bacteria to be flushed from your urinary tract before an infection can begin.
SPOT THE SYMPTOMS
“Genital warts appear in small cauliflower-like areas and mostly appear near the anus, on the cervix or in your private part. When you get red rashes and blisters, then you should know it is time to see the doctor. With chlamydia, you will only know once you get tested,” says Olwetu.
One of the symptoms of an infection is when your vaginal discharge changes colour, is heavier, smells different and you notice itching, burning, swelling or soreness around or outside your private part.
Another symptom is when it burns when you pee or when you feel uncomfortable during sex.
KNOW YOUR ODOUR
As perfectly normal as it is for your vagina to have a certain kind of smell, certain vaginal odour can also mean different problems, therefore it is very important to know whether to seek a doctor's help or not. ■ Yeasty odour: Yeast infections are not smelly at times. Occasionally, these infections are accompanied by a thick, cottage cheese-like discharge. The discharge will also have a faint scent of yeast. ■ Fishy odour: If you notice a fishy odour, the reason behind this is the most common vaginal infection; bacterial vaginosis. ■ Bleachy odour: Many women notice a bleachy odour in their vaginal discharge. This might be because of lubricants or condoms, as these products can contribute to this smell. ■ Musky odour: This could be the result of wearing synthetic underwear. ■ Metallic odour: You will notice a metallic odour during your menstrual cycle. This is because of the blood; which changes the pH of your private part, making it smell different.