Taking charge of your vaginal health

Taking charge of your vaginal health
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The weather's changing, it's the sweaty, itchy season with lots of humidity. With the rain comes the humidity, which can be an irritant at times. However, the changing weather conditions be it summers, rains, winters can sometimes leave you dehydrated and dry. And this holds true for your vagina and its health too.

There is a possibility that most women will notice a rise in vaginal infections during varying seasons. Dr Chandrika Kulkarni, Consultant Obstetrician, Gynaecologist & fertility specialist; Cloudnine Group of Hospitals speaks to IANSlife about the infections which could affect your vaginal health during different seasons and how can these be avoided.

Common Infections

Fungal Infections: The most common infection during the monsoon due to the heat and increased humidity is fungal infections. Candidiasis is the most common fungal infection which can lead to severe itching of the vagina and the external genitalia. It can also lead to excoriation of the skin and swelling due to intense scratching. Candidial infection is associated with thick curdy white discharge.

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Bacterial Infections: The moisture during varying seasons can increase the risk of bacterial infections like bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis which are characterised by altered foul smelling vaginal discharges. This can lead to itching and foul smell emanating from vagina which at times could lead to a loss of self-esteem. Typically cause grayish-white or yellow discharge. This discharge may have a fish-like odor that's easily noticed after sex.

Vaginal Infections & Pregnancy

Thanks to the surge in hormones that happens during pregnancy, moms-to-be are more susceptible to a host of vaginal infections. Here are the common culprits, along with how they're treated during pregnancy. Vaginal infections, ranging from common to more rare, can affect pregnant women: bacterial vaginosis (BV), yeast infections, and trichomoniasis. These need to be diagnosed promptly and medication has to be taken in consultation with your gynecologist / fertility expert. Self-medication should be avoided.

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Precautions

Below are the precautions to be taken to keep infections at bay. Vaginal infections aren't life-threatening conditions but if you notice any symptoms like which mainly includes itching, discharge and irritation, it's bests to seek help from your gynecologist so the that the infection can be prevented.

Make an appointment to see your doctor if you:

*have never had a vaginal infection before

*have had a vaginal infection but are experiencing new symptoms

*have had different or new sexual partners

*develop fever

*believe you may be pregnant

*have symptoms that return after treatment

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Clothing: Wear 100 per cent cotton underwear. Avoid wearing skin tight clothes which limit movement and cause more sweat, restricting the airflow and causing friction. Choosing cotton under clothes instead of synthetic ones helps in absorbing moisture which can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Wearing properly dried clothes (preferably sun dried ) is essential as damp clothes can irritate the skin and also provide a conducive atmosphere for fungi and bacteria. Soaps, body washes, perfumes, and vaginal contraceptives can all irritate your vagina. This can cause inflammation and tight-fitting clothes may also cause heat rashes that irritate your vagina.

Eating: Healthy probiotic food like curd is rich in good bacilli which prevent the harmful ones from growing in the vagina. Diabetics are more prone to infections, hence keeping sugar under control by eating healthy is important. Monsoon is the time when people crave for fried food, however it is prudent to limit oily stuff and consume healthy organic diet.

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Hydration: Drinking plenty of water and liquids helps to keep the urinary tract infections from occurring. Hydrating oneself is also important to keep all others infections away. Additionally, water helps in clearing out toxins from the body and maintains its pH balance as well. Excessive sweating and decreased fluid intake lead to loss of body fluids and salts which leads to urinary infection and irritation of the vagina.

Cleanliness: Vaginal hygiene post urination and defecation is an important preventive measure. Leaving the external genitalia damp and wet after washing post urination is not advisable. One should pat the area dry with tissue post cleaning. Hair over the external genitalia may be removed by clipping it short rather than shaving with razor as using blade could lead to minor cuts which may get infected.

Barrier contraception: Sexually transmitted vaginal infections can be avoided by using condoms during intercourse. This also helps in avoiding unwanted pregnancies.

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