Susan Biali, MD
Chronic vaginitis affects women of all ages and is one of the most common gynecologic problems. Happily, this condition is highly treatable in the majority of women, once the contributing factors are properly understood.
Chronic vaginitis affects women of all ages and is one of the most common gynecologic problems. Happily, this condition is highly treatable in the majority of women, once the contributing factors are properly understood. Constant or intermittent vulvar and vaginal irritation, itching, redness or swelling it's a very uncomfortable and frustrating condition, often augmented by well-meaning, but misguided, attempts at treatment by practitioners who are not aware of the full scope of the problem. Many women are encouraged to repeatedly administer conventional yeast treatments, the most common being over-the-counter topical antifungals or, more recently, single-dose prescription pills. Though these can be effective in an isolated episode, women with chronic irritation usually experience no effect or only temporary relief from these medications. In fact, I have met many patients who have been encouraged to take the oral antifungal pill on a monthly basis; clearly, the underlying problem is not being addressed. Successive vaginal cultures are often negative and many women eventually give up on ever finding a cure. They resign themselves to a life of irritation. The effects on intimate relationships can be devastating. The Yeast Connection Candida is a common culprit but it should only be treated if cultures are positive. If cultures are negative, assume the problem lies elsewhere. The approach in a chronic situation is very different from treating a single episode. The emphasis should be on eliminating factors that contribute to yeast proliferation. A whole foods diet that restricts refined sugar and flour, yeast and dairy is a good starting point. Antibiotic use should be avoided if at all possible, as broad-spectrum antibiotics destroy the body's normal bacterial flora and set the stage for yeast overgrowth. If antibiotics are absolutely necessary, supplement with natural bacteria such as acidophilus and bifidus. These probiotics replace and support your body's good bacteria, creating a strong immune barrier and healthy, candida-resistant tissues. For those with documented recurrent vaginal candida, one should also consider the source. In some cases the sexual partner may be reinfecting the woman and needs to be treated. In others, the yeast may originate in the bowel, which is why it is advised to always "wipe from front to back." Bowel colonization with candida is typically found in people with a long history of antibiotic and/or oral contraceptive use. In this situation, natural health practitioners are the best resource for natural remedies to eradicate the yeast and restore the balance of normal flora. Lifestyle Factors If candida is not the source of your woes, it's time to look elsewhere. The following suggestions apply particularly to those with no evidence of infection, but can be helpful in any case of vaginal irritation:
Chronic vaginal irritation is not a life sentence. There are many different actions to increase your chances of healing and enjoying an irritation-free life. Live naturally. Natural Remedies Against Candida Topical/External Remedies:
These are only a few examples. Be sure to consult with your health care practitioner before beginning any treatment program.