Of late you notice your daughter scratching her crotch. Her sitting posture isn't the same. Sitting or walking, she seems to feel uncomfortable. Soon, she is likely to complain that her genital area has turned red, is sore and perhaps swollen with occasional discharge. Before it turns severe, to that extent where she finds it difficult to urinate, seek the help of healthcare provider. Chances are, it could be vulvovaginitis.
Teen girls or menopausal women - vulvovaginitis, irritating vaginal itch, troublesome vaginal burning causes emotional trauma to women of all ages. Women are more prone to urethral or vaginal infections at one point or another in their lives. So, feminine hygiene is a very important aspect of a woman's life. If compromised, it can lead to serious consequences. Understand the importance of feminine hygiene!
Certain vaginal facts
- Female genitals consist of skin folds (outer and inner lips), clitoral hood, the clitoris, and the openings to the urethra and the vagina.
- Vagina is inhabited by a multitude of microscopic organisms.
- The vagina's acidic environment prevents one species overpowering another, and inhibits infection.
- Changes that occur with any vaginal infection changes - smell immediately.
- Vaginal health is determined by its smell.
- Smell of the vagina and it being infected are directly related to a woman's lifecycle, her weight and diet.
- Following certain basic rules on feminine hygiene can prevent infections.
Importance of Feminine hygiene
Research on feminine hygiene and internal cleanliness indicate that women give more importance to outward appearance. Internal cleanliness is not given its due attention and care. So much so, that women are ready to sacrifice food before cosmetics. It is beauty over food and feminine hygiene.
A look into the female life cycle and the changes the vagina is subjected to best describes the importance of feminine hygiene. During the entire female life cycle, the vagina undergoes seven distinct stages. They are the fetus, the newborn stage, the child, the adolescent, the pregnant mother, the post-childbearing years and lastly, the menopausal woman. During these periods and beyond, the vagina is subject to various changes. These changes may open unique challenges that need attention in the interests of feminine hygiene.
Vaginal itch, vagina burning or vulvovaginitis, almost any challenging issue related to the vagina can be kept at bay if the vagina is healthy. In order to have a healthy vagina, a woman requires personal maintenance.
It is true that the vagina is a self-cleansing organ and has its own protective mechanism. But menstrual cycles, sex, yeast, bacteria or virus infections, birth control methods, aging, medicines or changes after pregnancy can cause vaginal problems. So, the vagina requires as much attention to hygiene as other parts of the body to help maintain overall good health.
To maintain a healthy vagina, investing in personal hygiene products are almost always unnecessary. These can cause more harm than good. All that it requires is adherence to very basics of vaginal care.
Vaginal itching, burning, vaginal pain, soreness in the vaginal area, cutting, ripping, swelling of the vagina, lumps in and around vagina, ulcers in vagina and vaginal discharge - all these best describe vulvular discomfort.
Vaginal itch, vagina burning or vulvovaginitis, the onset of vaginal problem can be easily identified if a woman is aware of the changes that occur in her vagina. The very first and most evident sign is change in normal vaginal discharge.
A change in normal vaginal discharge could be due to one or a combination of these conditions.
- Inflammation or infection of the vagina, vulvovaginitis.
- Infections of the vagina, such as yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis trichomoniasis, human papillomavirus (HPV) or herpes.
- Infection of the cervix (cervicitis)
- An object in the vagina (like a forgotten tampon)
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia or gonorrhea can be a major cause of vaginal irritation.
- Sex practices such as oral-to-vaginal and anal-to-vaginal contact.
- Using certain medicines (antibiotics) or douching.
- Stress, illness and hormone changes can make the vagina more vulnerable to irritation.
Each woman and her vagina is unique. Women differ in shape and build. There isn't a standard measure to confirm a normal vaginal discharge. In order to differentiate normal discharge and a change in the normal vaginal discharge, a woman should be familiar with her body's unique cycle.
Vaginal discharge changes throughout. It is up to 2 teaspoons a day - during ovulation; it tends to be thinner and clearer at this time. Before menstrual flow, it is creamier and thicker. If it ever itches, burns, stinks, or looks like cottage cheese, it is time to seek an appointment with your gynecologist.
Other noticeable changes include changes in urination such as urgency to urinate more frequently or a burning feeling while urinating. But for these signs, vulvular discomfort can often remain unnoticed until it becomes severe and starts to interfere with routine functioning.
To a large extent, what happens to the vagina can have a profound effect on the exterior (the vulva). For example, candidiasis, an infection of the vagina, usually causes no symptoms to the vagina itself but will cause an intense itch on the vulva.
Basic rules for feminine hygiene
Having understood the importance of feminine hygiene and how it reduces vaginal conditions, follow certain rules pertaining to feminine hygiene. Here are certain recommended ways to reduce vaginal risks.
Clean and tidy vagina: Keep the genitals clean. Infections happen simply because the area is conducive. Shower regularly and wash the area at least twice a day with a mild unscented soap (pH balanced soap) and cold water. Apply soap lightly between the genital lips and not inside the vagina. Also rinse off the area with a hand held shower after a bowel movement or urinating. Avoid fecal contamination of the vagina as it may cause infection. Wash and wipe front to back with a tissue paper. Do not douche. It can take away some good bacteria and can also lead to inflammation.
Special days extra care: Maintain proper hygiene during regular menstrual cycles. Avoid using scented sanitary pads during periods and always keep vaginal region clean and dry. Change pads regularly, at least every 4-8 hours.
Wear cotton: Cotton is breathable. It enhances circulation in the vaginal area unlike synthetic fabrics. This helps to keep things from building up 'down there', and also helps maintain good skin around the vagina area.
Don't hold on: Urinate when you feel the need. Don't postpone. Urinate before and after sex as it helps keep bacteria out of the genital area.
Learn to avoid: Avoid tight-fitting clothes. They prevent the normal breathing function of the skin and especially an area like the vulva. This closed in effect will produce an unpleasant smell. Avoid wearing synthetic materials next to your skin. Use of synthetic materials in clothing will also react with the bacteria on the skin, and the bacterial waste product leaves a particularly unpleasant smell. Avoid long exposure to hot sweaty conditions like saunas and aerobics. It can be suffocating and stressful to the vagina.
Go healthy: Drink plenty of water. It helps to flush potential urinary tract infections causing bacteria out of the body. Include raw vegetables, fiber-rich foods, anti-oxidant fruits and vegetables in your regular diet. These foods not only help you to prevent various vaginal yeast infections, but also help to maintain better health. Minimize sugar intake and maximize yogurt intake. Yogurt contains good bacteria called acidophilus.
Keep safe: Prevent vaginal areas from contact with deodorant soaps, lotions, feminine hygiene products that can cause irritation to vaginal organs. Avoid using chemically strong creams and lotions at genital areas. Don't use petroleum jelly or perfumed oils for vaginal lubrication. If used and caught in the crevices of the vagina, it results in vaginal infections.
Use condoms: Condoms, while helping to protect against pregnancy, also help keep vagina clean. Having unprotected sex often can lead to vaginal problems as well as the obvious pregnancy and STDs.
Remove old tampons: Leaving a tampon in the vagina, say for more than six hours can cause toxic syndrome (TSS), as well as disgusting build up. Use smaller size and change sooner. Leaving a pad on too long can cause serious irritation to the skin on and around the vagina like diaper rash. Consider using panty liners as added protection in combination with a tampon or cup.
Abstinence helps: If the presence any sort of vaginal infections is confirmed or if you notice any signs of vaginal infections, avoid sexual intercourse during the period of treatment for vaginal infections. Avoid vaginal and anal intercourse during the same act. Also, a man's penis after entering the anus should not be allowed in the vaginal area until properly cleansed. It provides a breeding ground for vaginal infections.
Keep up appointments: When you feel any kind of vaginal irritation or itching, don't scratch. Try to use soft cotton cloth and water for better relief. This can help you avoid the spread of infection to other vaginal organs. Don't try to diagnose your condition yourself. Only a qualified healthcare provider can accurately diagnose problems related to the vagina and the body. If you notice any itchiness, changes in the color of your vaginal discharge or its odor visit your doctor right away. These are signs of possible infection.
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