The environment in the vagina is ideal for promoting bacterial growth. As it is warm and damp, the vagina is the natural habitat for several active germs. Majority of these microorganisms survive in a symbiotic or mutually beneficial relationship. In fact, they are also essential for maintaining the general health in the region of the vagina. A number of bacteria assist in sustaining the vagina in its usual condition of acidity that this is responsible for controlling the development of yeast, fungus as well as other damaging organisms. Precisely speaking, in its normal state, the vagina is somewhat more than just being acidic - it has a pH level of about 4.0 to 5.0. As there is any alteration in the environment inside the vagina, even a little, from its usual acidic level, it results in the growth of a few microorganisms going beyond control. When these microorganisms reproduce, they produce metabolic wastes, which, consecutively, results in irritation and inflammation inside the membranes of the vagina - a condition that is known as vaginitis.
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Actually, there are many different types of vaginal inflammations that vary from monilia and Candida that are attributable to a fungus resembling yeasts, to gardnerella, to trichomonas that is attributable to a protozoa present in the urinary/ genital tract and may other types of infections of the vagina that are caused by an assortment of microorganisms and together they are known as non-specific vaginitis. Majority types of vaginal inflammations are infectious and they have a propensity to occur repeatedly.
Antibiotics or sulfa medicaments are frequently used to treat vaginitis. These two medications are extremely useful in eliminating the bacteria that are responsible for the vaginal infections. However, they also kill the good or beneficial bacteria present in the vagina and are essential for sustaining the health of the environment in the vagina. Despite the fact that antibiotics act rapidly to kill the microorganisms responsible for vaginitis and appear to heal the condition amazingly, they are not able to provide a long-term respite from the infection. Along with obliterating the infection-causing microorganisms, antibiotics also wipe out the symptoms of the condition - albeit only for a few weeks. As a result, the problems that were responsible for the imbalance firstly are not rectified, and the germs start growing once again. In most cases, they reproduce even faster this time, as the other microorganisms (the 'good bacteria') that earlier provided a normal protection against the harmful germs were also obliterated owing to the use of antibiotics. When a woman finds the infection recurring, she is most likely to decide to start treatment with antibiotics again and this vicious cycle shows again.
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Hence, the sole means to effectively cure vaginitis is to rectify the basic causes responsible for the condition.
A number of specific herbs and dietary supplements are beneficial in treating as well as preventing the occurrence of vaginal infections, while there are others that you need to avoid. A brief discussion regarding such herbs and supplements is presented below.
First and foremost, women suffering from any type of vaginal infection should keep away from taking vitamin supplements that have yeast as a base. On the contrary, taking acidophilus either in capsule or liquid form helps in restoring the 'good' bacteria in the vagina that are essential for combating infections. It has been found that the lactobacillus variety is most helpful.
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Several types of vitamins are helpful in treating as well as preventing vaginal infections. For instance, vitamin A as well as beta carotene are needed to sustain the health of the mucosa in the vagina as well as to perk up the immune system. In addition, it has been found that women suffering from recurring vaginitis usually have a dearth of vitamin B complex and, hence, it is important to take this vitamin. In fact, deficiency of estrogen has the potential to augment the requirement for vitamin B6.
It is also important to take vitamin C to maintain the health of the immune system and help it to combat any type of infection. In addition, vitamin C and bioflavonoids facilitate in preventing the progression of the infection and, at the same time, have proved to be effective in lessening the rate of occurrence as well as the seriousness of herpes infections.
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Vitamin D taken in combination with the minerals magnesium and calcium may help in alleviating stress that is related to vaginal infections. You may also use vitamin E topically for relief from itching. Any deficiency of vitamin E in one's diet may make the immune system weak. In addition, women with vaginal infections should stay away from iron supplements, especially when the contagion is active. Iron has the aptitude to feed specific bacteria.
Zinc picolinate may be used externally for relief from itching caused by the infection. However, findings of a number of studies have shown that zinc is poisonous when used for vaginal infections attributable to yeasts. At the same time, it has been said that a deficiency of zinc may make the immune system weak and this may make one vulnerable to infections.
Chlorophyll is a bacteriostatic substance and has the aptitude to alleviate the inflamed tissues, while the use of lysine may lessen the vaginal infections from occurring repeatedly. It has been found that taking lysine in the form of an oral supplement helps to lessen the rate of occurrence as well as the seriousness of specific infections.
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If you are having any type of vaginal infection, you will benefit by using aloe vera gel, which aids in alleviating as well as healing the exasperated tissue. Similarly, the herbs Oregon grape and goldenseal may be used internally and in the form of remedial douche. These two herbs enclose the alkaloid known as berberine that possesses antibacterial attributes. Taking garlic capsules is also helpful in treating as well as preventing vaginal infections. Garlic possesses anti-fungal properties and is useful against a number of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics.
Several other herbs, including alfalfa, ginseng, anise, red clover, fennel, licorice and dong quai, are believed to have moderate estrogenic effects that may aid in sustaining the hormonal equilibrium and, in this way, lessen the chances of having vaginal infections. Tea tree oil is also effective in alleviating the symptoms of vaginal infections. When diluted, this herbal oil may be used in the form of a douche to combat infections as well as calm the irritated tissue. Use four to five drops of tea tree oil on a tampon and place it inside the vagina.
The herb pot marigold possesses astringent and anti-fungal properties and facilitates the healing process. It may be used in the form of a cream or a douche. Similarly, damask rose possesses soothing and anti-inflammatory properties that assist in providing relief from the itching caused by vaginal infections. This herb is used in the form of a lotion.
The bark of white oak acts in the form of an astringent and helps in combating vaginal infections. In addition, you may also use pau d'arco tea, which possesses anti-fungal attributes and assists in combating all types of infections.
There are a number of homeopathic remedies that are effective in treating as well as preventing the occurrence of vaginal infections. For best results, these homeopathic remedies should be taken in the strength (x or c) of 6, 12, 30 twice, thrice or more frequently every day subject to the seriousness of the symptoms.
Besides undergoing conventional treatments, using herbs and dietary supplements and resorting to homeopathic remedies, women enduring vaginal infections may do a few more things to prevent the disease, cure the condition as well as facilitate the treatment.
It is very important for women suffering from vaginal infection to maintain a healthy immune system by means of proper diet, undertaking exercises and taking vitamin and mineral supplements, as these go a long way in putting off occurrence of vaginal infections. In addition, you should not smoke, consume alcoholic beverages or eat or drink anything that contains caffeine.
Taking a diet that is rich in fiber content and includes a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, but containing very low amount of sugar is helpful for maintaining a healthy immune system. At the same time, keep away from all synthetically prepared sweeteners, which have been found to be associated with a higher rate of occurrence of yeast infections in the vagina.
In addition, it is advisable that you take acidophilus culture, especially those of the lactobacillus variety, following meals.
Avoid wearing nylon underpants if you are having a vaginal infection. Instead it is advisable that you use white underwear made from cotton, as this puts off the development of infection. Also do not wear any tight fitting garments, which impede the circulation of air, particularly during the night. You may preferably wear panty hose having cotton crotches. While washing your undergarments, ensure that you rinse them at least twice with a view to avoid any type of irritation caused by the chemicals present in detergents.
When you are having menses, you should preferably wear pads instead of using tampons. In addition, ensure that you use any natural lubricant while participating in a sexual intercourse, as this will help in avoiding any type of irritation caused by chemicals in synthetic lubricants. Some of the recommended natural lubricants include egg whites, mineral oil, plain yogurt and petroleum jelly. Do not use baby oil as it contains scents that may cause irritations. In addition, never use any spermicide as an alternative to contraceptives. Using spermicide may augment the chances of developing vaginal infections.
It is also important that you use uncolored and unscented toilet paper. At the same time, avoid using chemical douches, as they disturb the usual acid-alkaline balance in the vagina and may also augment the chances of developing bacterial infections. Also do not use any soap that is heavily scented or any deodorant.
Most importantly, try to stay away from using antibiotics whenever possible.
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